What a time I’ve had at the Games. I’ve been based at the Olympic Village right where that athletes live. The Chaplain’s suites are in the Village Plaza where the athletes are welcomed officially, where they shop, eat, play video games, and use the Internet.
Thank you so much for your prayers. As chaplains we are not allowed to pressurize the athletes but rather engage in conversation on all sorts of topics, especially their events. That gets their attention. It’s great having been involved in sport to be able to relate to swimmers, water polo players, boxers, athletes, and soccer players.
The Holy Spirit has been leading me each day into amazing situations. I believe that happens because of your prayers. In the first week the athletes were very nervous and apprehensive, willing to talk and ask for prayer. I would roam the Village, or ride the shuttle busses around the village, or encounter these men and women as they came into the chaplains suite. Some of the Korean team came in for prayer a few times. They would leave the Chaplain’s rooms shining.
Let me tell you something funny. The Lord impressed on me to wear my minister’s clerical shirt and collar, (which I only normally wear for traditional church weddings and funerals, and in the Lutheran Churches in Eastern Europe) under my Olympic uniform. The response was immediate. You see that chaplain’s uniform is not very different from many of the other workers so nothing distinguishes us as chaplains to draw the athletes to come to us. The moment people saw the clerical collar they came directly to ask for prayer and help.
I was standing at a bus stop on day and the Zimbabwe Team arrived for their official welcome. I approached some of the black athletes and asked where they were from. The replied, Gweru and Bulawayo. So I greeted them in their language. (I grew up in Southern Africa, playing soccer with the little Zulu fellows and so learnt much of their language. The language spoken in southern Zimbabwe is the same.) Their eyes nearly popped out of their heads. They were amazed that an Australian spoke their language. I blessed them In the name of the Lord for the games. I greeted their manager and blessed him in Shona, the major language. (I was in business in Harare for over 5 years and preached in a number of the black churches there, and so learned a bit of that language. His eyes filled with tears as he expressed his appreciation for a blessing in his own language. At that moment the cameramen arrived and I ended up in one of their official photos. Amazing !
Later that day as I was eating my lunch meal a young Greek cook, named John, came and sat next to me. He saw my collar and began to pour out all his troubles. After a while I stopped him and said, “Do you realise that you need Jesus.” He said,” I know, but I don’t know how to find him.” I replied, “You eat and I’ll tell you how to find Him.” When he finished his food he bowed his head and received Jesus into his life like a little child. After a time of counselling he left saying “I feel so different, so light. Our meeting wasn’t coincidence, was it?” He came to the chaplain’s office to pick up a special Olympic edition New Testament.