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Southern Baptists ‘Share the Light’ as Olympic Torch Relay begins

ATLANTA (BP)–As the 2002 Winter Olympics Torch Relay began its 13,500-mile journey from Atlanta to Salt Lake City Dec. 4, Southern Baptists volunteers were on the sidelines sharing their own source of hope and inspiration with the crowds.

Atlanta was the first of 65 cities along the route where volunteers affiliated with Global Outreach 2002 will offer both hospitality ministries and free “More Than Gold” evangelistic trading pins and “Interactive Pocket Guides” that contain a presentation of the gospel.

Global Outreach 2002, offering Southern Baptists an opportunity to “Pass the Torch, Share the Light,” is sponsored by the North American Mission Board, churches of the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention and the Georgia Baptist Convention.

The torch relay, however, is just the beginning of Global Outreach’s ministry. About 1,000 volunteers from 21 states will converge on Salt Lake City for the Feb. 8-24 games to participate in a broad range of activities.

The organization actually has been in Salt Lake City since earlier this year, working in cooperation with local churches. Eleven summer missionaries and eight to 10 volunteer teams participated, said Beth Ann Williams, director of Global Outreach 2002.

“I’ve really tried to focus on making this more than just 17 days of ministry,” she said. “People have a desire to come to Salt Lake City because it’s an Olympic city, and so we’ve tried to harness some of that interest this summer with missions teams, a sports clinic, and a creative arts team.”

Ministry during the Winter Games itself will be on both meeting physical needs of fans and sharing the gospel using the “More Than Gold” materials. First used during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the theme uses five colors — represented by snowflakes in the GO-2002 logo — to share the plan of salvation.

The pins build on the huge popularity of pin trading among Olympic fans, while the pocket guides contain reference maps, history of the Olympic games, and profiles of athletes. At the end of the 33-page guide is a four-page presentation of what each of the colors in the “More Than Gold” logo represent — blue for the hope found in Christ, dark purple for the darkness of sin, red for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, gold for eternal life, and green representing growth in Christ.

A coffee house ministry, including an Internet café, will be one of the primarily ministry locations during the Winter Games. Located a block and a half from Temple Square, the storefront location is being leased by a new church called The Summit.

“Our hope is that this will be a springboard for them, and provide an awareness of their location,” Williams said.

Another location will be operated in partnership with The Salvation Army and one of their facilities adjacent to the public transportation hub for the city. Included will be hospitality tents offering water and a warm spot to rest.

Other volunteers will travel public transportation and mingle with crowds at a variety of locations, including the three primary Olympic venues of downtown Salt Lake City, Park City and Layton.

“It’s going to be a good balance between what I call mobile ministries and these other locations,” Williams said.

While most of the volunteers already have been assigned, Williams said Southern Baptists still can help by lifting up everyone involved in prayer.

“We’re really doing a big push on that,” she said. “We will have a daily request on our web site during the games where we will have specific requests that reflect the ministries that are happening.”
For more on Global Outreach 2002, visit their Web site at www.go-2002.org.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: TORCH RELAY, MORE THAN GOLD and BONNIE BLAIR.

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  • James Dotson