On August 8 I flew from Recife to Rio de Janeiro in order to participate in the Olympics. Although rumors might have accidentally been started by me about competing, I was not there as an athlete. A group led by Dr. David Crandall, an ABWE board member and leader with Answers in Genesis went to the Olympics to evangelize. Dr. Crandall has been active in this type of large world event evangelism for the last couple of decades and has seen a great impact. I heard about the cause through our mission board ABWE as the missionaries from Brasil were asked to translate for the groups.
I thought it might be right up my alley since I do enjoy sport's ministry and so I signed up almost a year ahead of time. Upon arrival there was a diverse group of people from Peru to New Zealand, China to Brazil, and US groups from Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Michigan and everywhere in between. There were around 85 of us in all with varying personalities and styles.
We started going out on Tuesday and my group went to the Ipanema beach where almost everyone accepted the booklets we had. The name of the book is "The 7th Wonder" and talked about the Christ the Redeemer statue as well as talking about the Christ of the statue. The book is very well written and provides lots of interesting information. The Brazilians in Rio took the books like candy and we soon realized that we had not printed enough in Portuguese.
We switched locations most days and only a couple days did I go back to a location. During the 10 days in Rio I went to the Christ Redeemer statue, Ipanema beach, Copacabana beach, Olympic Boulevard, Olympic Park, a major bus stop and one rainy day to a mall. Most locations had crowds of people walking past us and we just handed them out with people on the run. We did not have many lasting conversations on these days, but were very successful in getting the books into the hands of people. During the week we were told that on average each book you hand out is read by 7 different people. Since the trip we have already heard of someone from Italy getting saved upon returning home and reading the book. God chose to give us His Word in written form, which probably means that is pretty effective.
The beach days were nice to be able to talk to more people. One day I hung around a few different groups and talked for a while. I met a girl whose boyfriend was participating. She asked prayer for his grandmother since she was really sick and they didn't want to tell him before he competed. A couple other conversations went deep into the gospel and it was neat to see people thinking about their lives.
After 7 days of passing out booklets our group had passed out over 108,000 books. The 55,000 Portuguese books quickly disappeared which stalled our effort some the last couple of days. Around 20 people had made professions of faith and many more deep conversations had occurred. We received many thanks from Christians who were impressed that the group cared that much to make the trip.
One other part I enjoyed was the networking aspect of the trip. I was able to connect to a couple pastors who have been begging for someone to go work in Rio. We were able to get some leftover books to them as well as maintain contact. There is so much work to do in Brazil and around the world! It is neat to see a trip where we could help both the world and Brazil in hearing the gospel. By the way, we were able to hand out books to closed countries; people who would not be able to hear the gospel in their own country. The popular refugee team from the Olympics all received these books! We also were able to get a box of books from 10 different languages into Olympic Village to be passed out to the athletes. I watched some of my teammates congratulate a girl from Hong Kong who had participated and it was a huge step for their country.
Below is the link to the Message magazine where there is an article about this Olympic ministry (as well as the article on our football ministry here in Brazil). It has more info about the trip and the ministry Dr. Crandall is involved in.