Ministering to Olympians

When thousands descend upon London for the 2012 Olympic Games, the athletes won’t be the only ones with a clear-cut strategy.

For the seventh time, Carl will be working as an AIA* chaplain at the Olympic Games, investing a month of his life in London to work with athletes in the Olympic Village.

While other visitors to the Olympic Games might find the scene as organized chaos, Carl and others serving with AIA have a plan and purpose for their time in London.

“Our role is not an evangelistic one as much as spiritual care for the Christian athletes or those seeking God,” says Carl. “We provide church services on Sundays and a daily chapel time for fellowship, Bible study and worship.

While the International Olympic Committee forbids proselytizing, Carl says there are plenty of opportunities to have
spiritual conversations.

Sometimes the hard realities of the Olympic competition lead athletes to seek out answers with chaplains.

“Because I’ve done this for a while, some coaches will recommend that an athlete talk to me if they are struggling,” he says.

Carl says the random schedules for athletes, events and practices create challenges for chaplains, as do language barriers. But the effort is worth it.

“Being able to serve at the highest level of sports and impacting those sports influencers is rewarding,” he says. “We have seen many athletes use their influence for God over the years.”

Another byproduct of chaplains’ work at various events is expanding the ministry of AIA.

Table tennis player Cyrus Muwanga of Uganda met two AIA chaplains at the 2007 World University Games who gave him a video that later helped lead him to place his faith in Christ.

Reid, the chaplain, later encouraged Muwanga to join the AIA staff and reach athletes in his home country of Uganda.

Now, Muwanga serves as a chaplain and attends various sporting events to reach other athletes with the gospel.

*Athletes in Action (AIA) is the sports ministry of Cru. This is an excerpt from their 2012 Olympic prayer guide (PDF). Full names of international chaplains are not shown for security purposes.

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