The Rio Olympics ends today. For the past two weeks, many of us have been cheering for our favorite athletes as they compete for the ultimate Olympic prize, a gold medal. But, beyond the often-shown iconic image of Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio, has Jesus been proclaimed?
Yes, He has. For several competitors, a television interview has become an opportunity to announce themselves as followers of the living Jesus. What an encouragement it has been for those stellar athletes to proclaim their faith.
Beyond the games, organizations such as Athletes in Action (AIA) have been using this event as an opportunity to take Christ to the nations. AIA sends staff and volunteers who coordinate outreaches with local churches at the Olympic venues.
One of the key tools for outreach is an evangelistic short film, “Struggle and Triumph,” which can be viewed on YouTube or through the JESUS Film Project in 24 languages. The film features Christ-focused Olympians who have achieved remarkable triumphs, but not without facing enormous obstacles. These athletes share how they have responded to their struggles and used them to fuel their pursuit of athletic greatness.
So, as we move beyond the competition, we can be praying, specifically for Christian athletes, the home countries they will be returning to, and the results of the various ministry opportunities that have happened both inside and out of the Olympic village.
On a personal level, the apostle Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 to run our Christian race with the same dedication and drive that athletes undergo while preparing for competition. Let’s have that same single-focused dedication as we strive to reflect Jesus to a needy world.