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Australians call volunteers ‘Down Under’ for 2000 Olympics

WINDSOR, Australia (BP)–Three months and counting before the massive Olympics festival comes to town — and you’re invited.

“Our singular greatest need is for [volunteers] to have the courage to come out during those three weeks during the Olympics,” says Bill Whelan, deacon at Windsor District Baptist Church just outside Sydney.

“I believe Australia is, especially from an American point of view, a wonderful place to share your faith because of our cultural affinities to one another as people. Because of that affinity, you can, as an American, really touch people.”

The bulk of Olympics ministry will be carried out by volunteers, Whelan says. Coordinators need volunteers with every skill imaginable — evangelism, sports, music, drama and more.

Don’t know what your niche at the Olympics might be?

No worries. With 4 million native “Sydney-siders” and an expected 2 million Olympic visitors, there will be plenty to do.

And with Australia’s indifference to the gospel and a tiny evangelical population, the call for workers for the harvest is especially poignant.

“Australia is very secular. We only have about 3 to 4 percent of our population that have committed their life to the Lord,” Whelan says. “And we’ve never experienced a revival. So this time we believe is our time.”

In preparation for the influx of volunteers, Windsor District Baptist Church is using its 15-acre property to house a giant tent city — equipped with affordable amenities for volunteers during their stay.

And church members are putting their money where their mouth is by mortgaging their own property to pay for the venture, Whelan says.

“We took seriously what our Lord said about not hiding our talents and our resources in the ground,” he says. “In that parable, we learn of a servant who said, ‘I was afraid, so I hid it in the ground.’

“Everything — all these resources — are there as talents … to be used to touch people and to bring them into that close and dear relationship we have with him.”

As the clock winds down before the Games, there is still time for volunteers to come aboard.

“We’re not full yet, and we know that it takes people time and courage to make that commitment, and we’re just praying,” Whelan says. “We’re praying that we will fill up.

“It’s like the church in Acts. Can you imagine what it’s going to be like to have 3,000 Christians living and worshiping together, fired up to go and touch people’s lives? That is the most awesome thought.”

For more information about going “Down Under” to help with Olympics ministries, e-mail the International Sports Federation at [email protected] or call toll-free 1-800-999-3113, ext. 1512. Bill Whelan’s e-mail is [email protected].

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  • Jenny Rogers