In an effort to reach the Greek people and those attending the Olympic Games, a united evangelical Olympic ministry formed by the International Athletic Organization More than Gold and the Christian community of Greece is cooperating with the International Olympic Committee and hundreds of volunteers from Greece and beyond to share the Gospel through various outreach programs as the Olympic Games begin on Friday in Athens, Greece.
"The churches and Christian agencies are joining hands there to have an outreach, not only to the Greek nationals, but also to the millions of visitors who will be there to enjoy the games," said Paul Jenks of AMG International, one of the participating organizations of "Flame 2004", the joint evangelistic outreach.
Currently, 58 local churches are working together with organizations such as AMG International, International Bible Society, Athletes in Action, Southern Baptists, Jesus Film, and RBC Ministries for Flame 2004.
During the Olympics and the Paralympics that immediately follow them, a wide variety of outreach activities will include hospitality areas, refreshment stands, showings of the Jesus film, craft venues and presentations (sports, music and drama). Personal evangelists, short- and long-term missionaries, and relationship builders will work one-on-one alongside each other. Special Christian festivals are also planned at the conclusion of the Olympics, as is evangelism to the whole of Greece (hoping to reach locals whove stayed away to avoid the crowds and fanfare surrounding the events in Athens).
Also, as part of the effort, "a special concert that has Scriptural significance" has been organized for the Olympic Games, said Jenks. "One of the things that we're really looking forward to is the tribute to the 'Known God' concert that will be organized in the middle of the games. This will be an opportunity to invite the community of unbelievers to come an hear what the Apostle Paul proclaimed there at Mars Hill so long ago to people today who in many cases still don't know Him personally."
AMG Internaionals Cosmo Vision Center is serving as the headquarters for the many ministries who are joining together in Flame 2004. Since housing was predicted to be one of the biggest problems in Athens, Flame 2004 organizations set up the Olympic village to serve as a hub for the outreach.
Jenks says another major focus will be at the church near the Acropolis where they will be handing out something special. "Bottles of water will be given out and then attached to every bottle of water is a tract with not only the Gospel message, but an invitation to come to AMG's bookstore there in Athens, to receive either a free copy of the Olympic New Testament, or a copy of the special edition of the Jesus Film."
As the Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for Friday, Jenks has asked for the prayers of Christians around the world.
The Olympic Games will take place August 13-29, while the Paralympic Games will take place September 17-28.