Believers Spread Faith across Holy Olympic City

With thousands of people at the winter Olympics site and 20 million more watching on television, the 2006 winter games have been a fast-paced event not only for the fans but for the Christian community as well.

Already, local religious leaders in Turin, Italy, have more than 90 chaplains on call to assist the athletes and Christians are taking their faith to a city famed for the Shroud of Turin, what many believe is Jesus Christ's burial cloth.

"Turin is the second largest city for the occult in the world," said Freddie Harris of Greater Europe Mission, according to Mission Network News. "The Bible says to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. There are almost 190 countries represented in the Olympics right now. And of course, spectators come from all over the world to see them. It's like the world is coming to us and we're preaching the Gospel to the world just being here in Turin."

The mission group has a team of eight helping a local congregation to reach out to the lost in the Olympic city.

Local churches have been distributing the gospel to spectators, athletes, volunteers and Christians throughout Turin. The Bible Society in Italy printed 50,000 copies of a special seven-language edition of the Gospel of Mark for the Olympic project. Text is available in Italian, English, German, French, Spanish, Polish and Japanese.

Christian organizations and volunteers from all over the world have joined in the large outreaches, using the Olympics as a springboard for such opportunities. Operation Mobilization in Italy has played a leading role in helping churches share their faith.

Meanwhile, athletes themselves have put faith first in the midst of the16-day competition.

"My faith comes first," said U.S. cross-country racer Rebecca Dussault, according to The Associated Press. Although busy with training, races and family, Dussault has made time to visit Frassati's tomb in Turin and a multicultural Mass in Sestriere.

As prayers are said among athletes, mission workers are directing their prayers toward a wide impact in the city.

"We're all praying for a revival here in Italy," said Frank Apisa, a missionary in Italy, "a revival that would impact everyone here in Turin."