Baptists prep for Olympics ministry
LONDON (IMB)—At times, when Doug Shaw stands on the hill just outside Olympic Park in London, he can barely hear himself think.
Construction buzzes and roars in preparation for the Summer Olympic Games, which start July 27. The work’s been going strong for years.
Shaw can relate. He hasn’t stopped in ages either.
As Olympics volunteer coordinator for Southern Baptists, he’s been in motion for months preparing Baptists to meet the tens of thousands of internationals coming to the United Kingdom this summer.
“We are praying that many people from all over the world who may not have an opportunity to hear or respond to the Gospel without being persecuted by their neighbors might have that opportunity while they’re here in London,” Shaw said.
Shaw is expecting the help of about 400 Baptist volunteers from the States, and Pile is expecting the participation of hundreds of churches in England.
Volunteers will help with festivals, face painting, handing out water and a range of other things. Some will assist churches in hosting big-screen events in parks, and sports teams will help with basketball and baseball events in neighborhoods around local churches.
All of these efforts fall under the banner of More Than Gold, a joint effort of Christian churches of many denominations worldwide. More Than Gold helps Christians collaborate for ministry during major international sporting events such as the Olympics or the World Cup.
And its most famous ministry—pin trading—will be in full force during the 2012 games.
“Pin trading is the biggest of the unofficial Olympic sports,” Shaw said, noting that thousands participate in the hobby. As part of More Than Gold, volunteers trade a More Than Gold pin that shares the Gospel message, he said.
The pin is a good conversation piece and helps start Gospel conversations in the area surrounding the Olympic Park, where blatant evangelism is not allowed, Shaw said.
“During the Olympics, you won’t be able to do literature distribution or any kind of obvious evangelism within a mile of any of the venues in London or anywhere else in the UK. These areas are closed off to direct evangelism,” he said.
But pin trading is a traditional part of the Olympics atmosphere and, Shaw said, “There’s nothing wrong with talking with people.”
Pile said many local Baptists are also participating with a “big silent Christian witness” during the Games, serving as official Olympic volunteers, or Games Makers. These volunteers serve as chaplains, drivers and part of the field setup crew and in a range of other roles.
For more information on Olympic ministries, prayer requests and opportunities for service at the 2012 games, visit morethangold.org.uk.