EDITORS’ NOTE: Baptist Press will provide news and features on Christian athletes and missions initiatives during the Summer Olympics in Athens.
ATHENS (BP)–Nathan Scott came to Athens with the International Sports Federation in June, but he won’t be part of the 31-member ISF volunteer team leading sports clinics in Greece from Aug. 13-29.
Instead, he will serve as sports information operator at the Hotel Oasis’ sports desk. The hotel will house International Olympic Federation presidents and other officials from across the world.
“My clients are VIPs and they are to be treated as royalty,” Scott said. “My services will be as an information guide to them and as a personal contact for anything they need.”
However, along the way he hopes to build relationships while assisting people and perhaps gain opportunities to share a “More Than Gold” Olympic pin that, via its multiple colors, relates the story of Christ or a pocket guide that, in a dozen languages, includes information recounting the time the Apostle Paul spent in Greece. The guide is produced by Flame, an Athens-based outreach of AMG International in Knoxville, Tenn.
“If someone is from China and doesn’t don’t know much English at least I may be able to give them something in their language,” Scott said of the multi-lingual resource.
Scott is a 2003 Union University graduate who grew up at Calhoun (Ky.) Baptist Church and now is a member of Ninth & O Baptist Church in Louisville.
This is the 24-year-old’s third Olympics experience. In 2000, he was part of an International Mission Board summer mission team and, in 2002, he worked with the North American Mission Board’s Global Outreach initiative just prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
However, this is his longest stay in an Olympics venue prior to the start of the competition. Scott was part of an ISF team that led soccer, volleyball and basketball clinics June 12-22 for more than 75 teenagers.
After that event, Scott remained in Athens as a logistical organizer for ISF. That means developing project schedules for sports mission teams, organizing transportation and coordinating plans with team leaders.
His assignments have included working with an Athletes in Action team from Holland July 7-17, an ISF team from Southwest Missouri State University July 11-19 and the current team.
ISF, based in Atlanta, has dispatched more than 1,500 volunteers on more than 200 projects since its founding in 1993, usually tackling sports-related clinics and other ventures in tandem with International Mission Board missionaries in more than 40 countries on six continents.
The summer has already resulted in a conversion story. Scott, who is staying at the First Church of Piraeus -– an evangelical church in the port of Athens -– befriended three teenage boys during the June clinic.
During the visit by the AIA team in mid-July, the boys went to a Christian concert with two men from Holland and professed Christ as Savior. Since then, they have been attending services at the evangelical church.
Scott’s summer work has served a dual purpose, earning credit hours toward his graduate degree in sports administration at the University of Louisville and moving toward his career goal of one day working fulltime with the Olympic movement.
Although Scott won’t be involved in most of the activities during the Olympics, he will take advantage of a day off Aug. 19 to work at ISF basketball and soccer tournaments.
The tournaments for youth 12 to 18 will be held at the Cosmo Vision Center, a 40-acre complex near the city’s airport. A second tournament will be held Aug. 28.
Sports are a natural entree to meeting people, said Scott, a former pole-vaulter who also played one year of college football before transferring to Union.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get into the ‘in’ group of Greek culture,” Scott said. “But if you’re willing to go out and play ball with them, they’re willing to look past the fact you’re an American. They appreciate you wanting to reach out and getting to know their culture.”
Learning about Greek culture included touring the ancient city of Corinth, where the Apostle Paul spent two years of ministry and wrote five books of the New Testament.
Seeing tangible objects of where Paul stood allowed the Bible to become much clearer, Scott said.
As part of spiritual preparation for the Olympics, Scott and other ISF personnel have been prayerwalking in areas where volunteers will work. They have daily devotions as a team and on Aug. 1 met with IMB missionaries in Greece and journeymen from Russia and Europe.
Scott said Southern Baptists in the States can support ISF volunteers by praying for them during the Olympics, something the people in his hometown have done on each of his mission trips.
They can also pray for the Greeks, who are embarrassed about the lateness of the preparations for the games and concerned about the threat of terrorist attacks, Scott said.
“If something does happen as far as terrorist activity, I hope the church’s message of hope will be shared with people who are in fear,” Scott said. “Pray for the safety of the games and for the hearts of the people here. Pray the Gospel will be presented to the people here [and that] God opens their hearts to the message of freedom found in Jesus Christ.”