Olympic Ministry Memory: Which one is your favorite?

One of the questions I am often asked is "which one is your favorite?" It's understandable when people hear that I've attended so many Olympics over the years. But it is not an easy question to answer. Each Olympic city is unique and regardless of the country or continent, all involved want to put their best foot forward for the world to see. Whether it is Beijing, China or Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, the local Olympic committee will work hard with local authorities to make sure daily real-life issues in the city such as homelessness, crime, etc., essentially "disappear".

Even though I have been to ten Olympic cities on five different continents, I have seen the very best representation of that city and culture and so must acknowledge that it is a somewhat skewed perspective. With all that being said, my typical answer to this question is along the line of "all are unique in their own way, but if I had to give an answer I would say I have two favorites". 

Without question, Sydney 2000 is one of my favorites for the primary reason being that it was my very first Olympic ministry outreach, not to mention my first travel experience outside of North America. This Olympic outreach experience rocked my world in so many ways. It has taken me years to come to fully understand the many ways Sydney 2000 impacted my life. That will be the subject of a future Olympic Ministry Memory. For now, let me just say this, God used this beautiful country and its wonderful people to show me how the Olympics is a truly unique evangelistic opportunity.

Lately I have been using the phrase "The Olympics are like Acts 1:8 all in one place" to describe this phenomenon. Remember what Jesus said, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." This is never truer in one location at one point in history than during the Olympic Games regardless of the city or country that are hosts. Think about it, this Summer in Tokyo, Japan, 206 countries are expected to send athletes to compete. Depending on the location, each Olympic city hosts not only the great athletes and coaches but also family members and fans from all of these countries, all in one city, over a period of seventeen days. Being at each Olympic city for as many days as I can have allowed me to have numerous Gospel conversations with people literally from all over the world! 
In the Summer of 2000 in Sydney, Australia, I was amazed at this unique opportunity in which I found myself for the first time. It was incredible! I would often start each day with the goal of listing every country that was represented by the many people I would have had Gospel conversations with. It was impossible to keep up! Each day I shared Jesus with people from dozens of different countries around the world as well as with many fellow Americans. 

In addition to the uniqueness of Sydney 2000, Bejing 2008 stands out as my other favorite Olympics to date. But it is for another, more personal reason. My involvement in Beijing, China during the Summer of 2008 not only allowed me to share the Gospel for the first time in Asia but also led to the adoption of our daughter, Joylee, in the Winter of 2011. Again, that will be the subject of an additional future Olympic Ministry Memory. 

Thank you for joining me on my Journey to Japan toward the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Ministry Outreach. For more information visit www.beyondtherings.net


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