WINDSOR, Australia (BP)–Little pins, big pins — just give ’em the pins! Olympic pins, produced by every company and organization imaginable, are the hottest things on Sydney’s streets during the Games. People buy, sell, swap — anything to get a pin. Some are free, some bring big bucks.
And Georgia-based ministry group Action International 2000 Australia has discovered a way to use those pins to share a greater message: the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Using glossy enamel pins similar to those showing up all over Sydney, more than 40 American volunteers have gathered at Windsor District Baptist Church’s “Tent City” near Sydney for three weeks during the Olympics. Each day the team splits into small groups to take their pins and gospel presentation to hot spots all over Sydney — Darling Harbour, the landmark opera house, Olympic Park.
The pins show a gold torch surrounded by multicolored rings like the popular evangelistic bracelets developed for sharing the gospel through colors. Action volunteers come back with stacks of commitment cards to prove just how effective the pins are.
“God continues to pour out blessings far beyond anything we could have imagined,” said Richard Palmer, personal evangelism coordinator for Action International. “I had the privilege of praying with a woman [who received Christ as Savior] on the train, four teenagers and three vendors, and sharing with many, many others.”
Palmer, 41, of Paducah, Ky., is a member of First Baptist Church in Paducah.
Keith Gilbert, 35, from Birmingham, Ala., had some street evangelism experience under his belt — but nothing like the past few days among Sydney’s Olympic crowd.
“Here you’ve got a good tool, because people want pins,” he said. “It’s opened my eyes to people who have never heard [about Jesus]. They don’t even know the real reason we celebrate Christmas and Easter.”
Gilbert, who attends The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., has spent several days in Sydney’s Darling Harbour and Olympic Park sharing pins with people. But he hadn’t seen anyone pray to receive Christ until he met a man on the train from Windsor.
“We were going into town, and I showed him the pin and told him the story behind it,” he said. “I asked him if he’d ever heard the story, and he said no. In America you ask someone that question, and they’ll say, ‘Yeah, but … .’ I know there are statistics of people who have never heard of Jesus, but when you’re sitting two feet away from them and can touch them, it’s very eye-opening. They’re people, not a statistic.”
The man wanted to accept Christ, and they prayed together right there on the train.
And that, say Action volunteers, is the whole idea.