England (MNN) — London seems to be the epicenter of attention with tourists and TV sets riveted on the Olympic Games.
With all the excitement, local London churches are stepping up to meet the crowds with the help of More Than Gold.
More Than Gold is an organization hopping from Olympic event to Olympic event. They coordinate with local churches to put on creative arts performances, sports clinics, distribute Olympics information and water, and hold festivals with big screens that play live Olympic competitions.
Around 2,500 volunteers work directly with More Than Gold to carry out this ministry.
According to their Web site, More Than Gold “is like scaffolding – existing on a temporary basis so something permanent can exist. Our ‘permanent’ dream is the legacy we want to see left behind – a growing and more relevant Church that is continuing to engage with its community through sports and service.”
International Mission Board (IMB) missionary Doug Shaw, volunteer for More Than Gold, says, “People get excited about receiving things. They get excited that there are performing arts often going on along the street side. It draws attention. Many are tourists, but also local communities get excited about the activities that are going on in their neighborhoods.”
And sharing the message of Christ is at the crux of it all. Shaw says, “We believe it’s an effective way to present the Gospel. Most people come to the Gospel by steps, even though there’s usually a critical moment in which one trusts Christ. There are also steps which bring one to Christ along with that.”
Shaw explains, “There seems to be an unwritten law that you can’t talk to the person sitting next to you when you’re traveling…and that’s changed a bit during the Olympic season. People are just more willing to talk. There’s a good atmosphere, and I think it does help with receptiveness towards the Gospel message.”
Some have already made a decision to accept Christ.
More Than Gold also works with the Olympic committee to set up home stays for the families of Olympic athletes. “Through the Olympics, all of the athletes family home stay programs is done through Christian organizations, which we find very exciting,” says Shaw.
While it’s difficult to maintain follow-up with international travelers, churches continue follow-up in their community. According to Shaw, “Often it’s neighbors as much as it is tourists who are on, shall we say, the receiving end of the ministry.”
Shaw asks for prayer. “Pray for the neighborhoods where people are working. Pray for the churches. Many of them could use a boost in the arm. Pray for the effectiveness of [the Gospel], and pray for this openness to continue in future Olympics. [Pray] that it won’t be shut off because of growing secularism.”