November 11th starts the 1000-day countdown to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As the event draws close, Chinese churches are preparing for rare opportunity to spread the gospel and to push the China onward toward world evangelism.
Each year the Olympics draws thousands of athletes, audiences, and tourists. The event has evolved from an athletic ceremony to also a center for the fusion of culture and religion and an opportunity to spread the gospel. The previous Olympics in Athens was an example of this. The local Eastern Orthodox churches sent 20 volunteers to care for the spirits of the athletes, also the Greek Bible Society published small booklets called "Apostle Paul in Athens" and distributed freely in various languages among the crowd. Greek Bible Society indicates that over 20,000 New Testament Bibles were passed out at the event.
Blessing Foundation Magazine from North America posted an article recently pointing out the opportunity that 2008 Olympics provide to spread the gospel. Yet what will be the results of it? The article concludes that it is determined by the level of participation from Christians at the event and suggests that Chinese churches to follow the example set by the Korean churches during the Seoul Olympics in the 80's.
When the Korean churches found out that their nation has received the rights to host the Olympics, they saw the opportunity God opened in Korea to spread the gospel. The Korean churches united together and prayed earnestly for unity. Christian leaders placed down their differences and conferred with one another the mission strategy for the event.
The Korean churches in a joint effort placed large amount of manpower and resources toward the Olympics. They printed numerous flyers in different languages and trained volunteers Basic English that would help spread the gospel to tourists and athletes from overseas.
The Olympics in 1988 was the key that elevated Korea from a mission field to the center of several large international mission organizations today.
The 2008 Olympics is often perceived to be a seal that will connect the eastern and western culture. Some people suggested that the Olympics will be the center of international media attention and will likely draw their interest to explore the culture of Beijing during their stay. The event will advance China into the international community, a step that will help the nation to become more opened in its policies and loosen the restrictions on human rights and freedom.