VANCOUVER, British Columbia
— After eight Olympics and nearly three decades in ministry, Debbie Wohler
still discerns God’s work in hindsight like the rest of us.
In a matter of minutes on a stroll in downtown Vancouver, she has a dozen
interactions that could change her life, or theirs. But only God knows.
“There’s no one more surprised than me that I’m a missionary,” said the
physical education major-turned-Lake Tahoe resort missionary.
Her life is full of surprises, and she likes it that way.
“I’m a planner, planner, planner, but after all that planning, I have to be
open to what God wants to do, not what I want to do.”
At the Winter Olympics, God has shown Wohler the fruit of being flexible. This
year she is cheering for three Olympians from Lake Tahoe — Marco Sullivan,
Shannon Bahrke and Shannon’s brother, Scotty — who all grew up in the Big A
Club Wohler directs as part of a ministry to children in Lake Tahoe funded by
Southern Baptists’ North American Mission Board.
“I got to see Shannon take bronze this year on women’s moguls,” Wohler said,
beaming a smile on a street corner. “Twenty years ago, when we were telling
them Bible stories, did I think they would be here today? There’s no way I
could have seen this day 20 years ago. There are so many God connections you
can’t see at the moment but that become apparent over time.”
Making her way to the SkyTrain for an Olympic event up in King Edward, Canada,
she’s planting seeds for the next 20 years.
Her pockets are filled with More
Than Gold pins, which provide spectators with a keepsake and a printed
presentation of the gospel.
She’s learned the value of preparedness and the simplicity of pins; in less
than a mile it pays off multiple times.
She gives a More Than Gold pin and directions to a lady looking for the flaming
Olympic cauldron downtown. She gives a pin to a SkyTrain worker monitoring the
tracks. The three ladies asking directions outside the restroom — they get a
pin, too. They volunteer e-mail addresses.
They want to keep in touch.
“Those three ladies,” Wohler said. “Now we’re friends! And they gave me their
e-mail addresses and were so grateful for my help and for the pins. You see?
Who knows where this will lead?”
In Beijing and other Olympic venues of years past, it led to friendships she
still maintains. Some have become believers.
“In Torino (at the 2006 Winter Games) I gave a pin to a blind man. He said he
was a believer but that he wanted to use my pins to share with his friend.”
With her quick smile, wit and laugh, Wohler could make friends in any city. But
she also shows the power of simply going and letting God work through you as
“Whether we’re walking the wrong way down a one-way street or making our way to
an event, God has given us many opportunities and many different ways to talk
about Him,” Wohler said, recounting the interview she had the previous week
with a Wall Street Journal reporter.
She was at the wrong place at the right time.
“I’m just the conduit,” she said. “I just show up and who knows what’s going to
As the day grows late and her event nears, Wohler boards the train and looks
around, a More Than Gold pin at the ready.
Three iPhone “app” developers want
to know where they can find some coveted Olympic red gloves.
“They’re updating their iPhone app with my information,” she says, as the train
approaches her stop.
“We have the same exact event schedule for the next three
“You see? Who knows what God will do! All I do is show up and start talking.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Miller is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)