LONDON - There are around three weeks left until the Olympic Games will be held in Greece, and at this time it is not only the athletes who are preparing their starting blocks for the Olympic Games - many Christians organizations from around the world are also actively preparing to do many works there.
A team of 45 Protestant and Anglican ministers from all over the world have been recruited to serve in the Olympic Village according to the online newsletter of the Anglican Ministry in Athens.
Inside the Olympic Village, the Religious Services Center will be used by a variety of churches and faith groups on a co-operative, time-sharing basis. Greece has 98 percent of the population practicing the Orthodox faith, which is officially regarded as belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church. The denomination's Holy Synod has appointed 20 priests to minister to the spiritual needs of athletes belonging to the Orthodox faith.
At the same time, the Greek Bible Society plans to hand out thousands of copies of Scripture during the games. Twenty thousand New Testaments in English, and copies of the New Testament in modern Greek, will be given out. A booklet called "The Apostle Paul in Greece," is to distributed by Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant volunteers. It has been translated in to Greek, English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic.
In addition, Hellenic Ministries, a Greek-based Christian agency, is organizing 'Operation Gideon', which aims to "surround Greece with evangelistic teams on 80 Greek islands through prayer, literature distribution and proclamation evangelism." The name is taken from Gideon, the Israelite warrior in the Bible who led his men to defeat the ancient Midianites. The agency describes itself as a "sponsoring and support organization for men and women called to serve Jesus Christ throughout Greece, the Balkans and the Mediterranean world."
Another organization called Athletes in Action, a sports ministry under the umbrella of Campus Crusade for Christ, has arranged for 60 staff chaplains from around the world to hold chapel services, prayer meetings, and Bible studies for contestants. The group has arranged security clearance so that the chaplains will have access to the competitors.
The ancient Olympics were banned as pagan rituals in the fourth century by Roman Emperor Theodosius, but many church and religious groups are planning to attend their modern equivalent in the Greek capital.
Under Greek law, proselytizing is not allowed, and the Orthodox church is particularly wary of any attempts by Roman Catholics and Protestants to gain converts. However, the government is currently taking little action to enforce the law against conversion, said Hellenic Ministries' James Macris,