Sharing the Gospel during the Winter Olympics
International ministry OneHope is capitalising on the "Olympic-sized opportunity" to share the love of God during the Winter Games in Russia.
As part of a vision to see every young person in every nation reached with a relevant Gospel message by the year 2030, OneHope has produced an Olympic Games edition of the 'Champions Book of Hope' that shares the story of Jesus along with testimonies of various Olympic athletes.
600,000 copies of the book have been donated to local churches in Russia to distribute among their communities, and a further 100,000 copies will be given out in Sochi where the Games are taking place.
Teams will also be taking the book to some of the most remote towns and villages across the nation, where conditions are harsh and poverty is rife.
In addition to this, churches throughout Russia are being invited to hold open events where local people can come and watch the Games on big screens, followed by a Gospel presentation.
Some churches will also be holding sports competitions and training camps for children, while others will be heading to skating rinks and ski venues to share the message of Jesus.
OneHope believes that the Olympic Games offer "unprecedented opportunity" to share God's Word, and is encouraging church leaders to use sport as a "context for ministry".
"The juxtaposition of this celebration against the backdrop of a nation that is dying is glaring," said OneHope President Rob Hoskins.
"This country has quietly crept into the category of 'forgotten', with many corners of its vast geography untouched and unreached."
It is hoped that many more Russian people will find faith as a result of this fresh outreach programme, though the International Mission Board 'Engage Sochi' team have created a resource kit with the aim of helping Christians all over the world to use the Games as a way to share their faith.
The kit, entitled 'Engage Your Community', contains outreach ideas, sermon outlines and small group lessons for adults, teenagers and children. It also uses the colours of the Olympic rings to correspond to the Gospel message.
"The message we have to share is so much more precious than winning a gold medal – something only a few ever get the chance to do," says Marc Ira Hooks, co-director of Engage Sochi.
"We are talking about something that every person can have: a personal relationship with God. And the Olympic colours help tell that story."