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The light is bright in Whistler
Adam Miller, North American Mission Board
February 19, 2010
3 MIN READ TIME

The light is bright in Whistler

The light is bright in Whistler
Adam Miller, North American Mission Board
February 19, 2010

From yards away Lyndon

Rush’s red coat and tall frame are easy to spot shuffling among skis,

snowboards and tourists. They’ve come to Whistler to ski, relax, shop and watch

elite athletes like Rush, Canada’s number one bobsled driver.

“Hey! How are you?” he says,

stepping off a stair and into the cobbled path where North American Mission

Board (NAMB) missionary Derek Spain is taking Southern Baptist volunteers on

one of his daily walkabouts.

They shake hands and shortly the word “revival”

emerges.

“There are lots of Christian

athletes here,” Rush says.

Rush is one of dozens of

athletes Derek Spain has connected with over the last few weeks, and Rush sees

a mission field among his brothers and sisters in the Olympic world.

Photo by Adam Miller

North American missionary and Olympic chaplain Derek Spain, left, meets with Lyndon Rush, Canada’s number one bobsled driver and one of dozens of Christ followers among Olympic athletes. See related video.

“Rush is the real deal,”

says Spain.

The light of Christ is

bright among the athletes in Vancouver. Following the death of slider Nodar

Kumaritashvili this became apparent as chaplains and fellow athletes in the

Olympic Village responded to the grief and uncertainty they experienced.

“A lot of coaches and

athletes tried to stay focused, and this often meant not talking about it. But

many of our athletes were facing strong emotions,” says Spain, who is an

official chaplain for the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) at the athletes

village in Whistler. “Our job was to listen, but we also offered hope and

assurance of something greater than these events.”

Spain was chosen to be a

chaplain by the VANOC because of the relationships he already had with the winter

athletes he serves in his hometown of Lake Placid, N.Y.

“We’re doing the same kind

of things we do in Lake Placid — meeting regularly for one-on-one discipleship,

praying together and providing spiritual encouragement,” Spain says.

“Someone told me the other

day ‘I think a revival is coming among our athletes,’” says Spain. “I’m praying

and hoping that this is true.”

As the Games continue, Spain

and his fellow chaplains are showing that sports aren’t just sports. It is a

mission field with an easy connection to the spiritual.

“The atmosphere at the

Olympics is fantastic,” Spain says. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet

people and engage people from all over the world. The opportunities for

ministry and evangelism are everywhere.”

Single-mindedness,

discipline and endurance — all fruits of a soul sold out to Christ — are the

keys to success for the best athletes in the world. And the world is waiting.

Winter Olympic athletes represent some 80 nations.

“These athletes are returning to their countries in

a few days,” Spain says. “My hope is to see them return with a seed to plant.”