NEW ORLEANS (BP)–By Aug. 19, the second day of classes at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, most students had learned that a team from NOBTS was in Athens proclaiming the Gospel at the Olympics. But few suspected they would become part of the NOBTS Olympic team when they attended the chapel service that day.
After a time of praise and worship, Jim Shaddix, dean of chapel and associate professor of preaching at NOBTS, welcomed students and announced they would hear from Leavell College professor Endel Lee, who was leading the group in Athens. At first, the conversation was much like a “Can you hear me now?” commercial that had gone bad. Shaddix called out to Lee, yet received no answer.
Soon the problem was solved and Lee began sharing about the trip.
A stirring account of the team’s ministry in Athens followed. In order to share Jesus with representatives from more than 220 countries, the team spent time ministering in the Plotka, or marketplace, and in parts of the Acropolis. In addition to sports-based ministry, the team seized opportunities to witness to passengers on buses and subways as they traveled from site to site.
“It’s very difficult sharing here,” Lee reported. “The hearts are not open to the gospel. It’s very dark and evil is prevalent, but we continue to be faithful to share.”
Missionaries from more than 150 countries took part in an effort to reach people at the Olympics. Though the seminary team was one of many sharing Christ at the Olympics, the long, taxing days began to add up. Still, the team remained focused on the power of God to accomplish the task given to them.
“The team is tired,” Lee said. “We’ve had long days and many different challenges. Our work is great, but God is greater.”
“We ask that you continue to pray for us that God would give us endurance for these last two or three days while we’re here and patience as we wait upon the Lord,” he said.
Then the group read out some of the names of people with whom they had shared.
Seminary students in New Orleans listened carefully as the group called out names such as Tom, Sofia, Martin, Julie, Alexandria, Ronnie, Nathan and Johnny. Added to that list were new believers Lilly, Alex, Chris, Angela and Romeo.
“I’m not sure that you’re able to hear me,” Shaddix said. “We heard those names, Dr. Lee, and they represent, I know, the thousands of others. We’re going to stop right now and pray for them here in this chapel service, and we’re praying for you and the other members of the team.”
“We’re returning to New Orleans Saturday night [Aug. 21],” Lee said. “Y’all save us some crawfish. We love you, and we’ll see you soon. God is blessing. Good bye.”
Shaddix looked out at those in the chapel.
“He took over my sermon,” he said as laughter flooded Leavell Chapel. “With those names that they called out in mind, would you listen to this passage of Scripture?”
After reading the Great Commission from Matthew 28:16-20, Shaddix directed students, faculty and staff to pick out one of the names called out and pray for that person. He added, “As you call that name before the Lord, I want you to pray for a second thing. I want you to pray for boldness that you as an individual would be part of the fulfillment of what we just read.”
The report from Lee and the NOBTS Olympic team provided a true-to-life testimony of obedience to the Great Commission. As Shaddix introduced a sermon series highlighting the Christian’s call to “go and make disciples of all nations,” it was evident that the report from the team was not merely a sermon illustration. It was also an opportunity for those in New Orleans to take part in the Great Commission work taking place in Greece.