It’s been just a short time since the conclusion of the Olympic Games in Rio, but the memories linger still. We were amazed at the success of the athletes from the U.S. as they won more medals than anyone had expected. Notable also was the “faith” component of these Games. From the almost daily visits to the “Christ the Redeemer” statue on that mountaintop in Brazil to the frequent mention of God, Christ and religion, these Games had to have been the most faith-filled in memory.
Many witnessed the celebration as the Fiji men’s rugby team won its first-ever medal by beating Great Britain to win the gold. Immediately following their victory on the field, the players worshiped together, hands raised, as they sang, “We have overcome by the blood of the Lamb.”
America’s own Simone Manuel became the first African-American to win an individual medal in swimming, ending the Games with two gold and two silver medals. And she was quick to credit the Lord for that accomplishment. “All I can say is all glory to God,” Manuel said through tears after her first win. “It’s definitely been a long journey these past four years. I’m just so blessed to have a gold medal. … I’m just so blessed.”
U.S. divers David Boudia and Steele Johnson stole the spotlight in their NBC interview by giving all the glory to God after their silver-medal-winning performance. “It’s totally freeing when I stay in tune with scripture,” Boudia said. “I don’t have to worry if I miss a dive. I go into competition and it’s like, ‘Praise God no matter what.’ If I do well, that’s awesome. I praise Him. If I don’t do well, praise Him even more. Competition looks way different now.”
Allyson Felix became the most decorated U.S. women’s track and field athlete in history. “I praise God for it all. … I came to know Jesus Christ at a very young age. … Faith leads my life. That’s definitely the reason that I run,” she said.
Perhaps you saw the story of Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer who now has won 28 medals. Two years ago, he was depressed, suicidal and banned from swimming competitively. Having attained “rock star” status due to his success, he was now failing miserably at life. However, an NFL football player reached out to Michael and shared a copy of “The Purpose Driven Life,” and Phelps’ life was turned around. He now gives glory to God and is growing as a Christian.
These are just a few of many who spoke up for God at the Olympics. So, in a world filled with despair and sin, there are still people, even young people, who will speak up for and unashamedly serve Christ. And there are many, many more of them than we know! Let your light shine too!
Ron Brisson has been in ministry for 35 years, including the past 18 as Lead Pastor of New Life Church in Rolesville.