I’ve come all the way to Sochi
With an overarching goal-
I’m not here to win a medal—
No, I’m here to save your soul:
Have you ever heard the story
Of the savior on the cross?
Who redeemed us all from sinning
Through his sacrifice and loss?
I can see it in your eyes—you’re
Too polite to walk away;
So you’re gonna hear a story
I can talk about all day
You have shown your dedication
You’re the best at what you do
Every moment here is precious
Let me waste a bunch for you
You are here for competition
On your skis, or skates, or board
But myself, I’m on safari—
Hunting athletes for the lord!
I’ve got lots of pins for trading;
By the waterhole I lurk—
Yes, I’m here among the heathens
Doing missionary work
And I hope I bag a trophy—
Grab some big, athletic name—
Or it’s just a paid vacation
Hunting Big Olympic Game
There are probably fewer American fans in Sochi than at previous Winter Games, partly because of concerns about security, and partly because of the time and expense it takes to get to the Russian resort town on the Black Sea.
But Americans are represented there, with gusto, by a group of evangelical Christians who call themselves the International Sports Chaplains. Members of the group have been going to the Olympic Games since 1988.
On a recent sunny day at the Olympic Park, with bands playing and fans strolling around the venues, the chaplains move through the crowd in teams of three or four.
Reminds me of the cult recruiters I’ve seen on campuses; similar tactics, and many of the athletes are roughly college age. Sometimes they advertise their purpose, but often it is a bait-and-switch tactic:
When people see the pins, they want to trade, Gardner says. He says trading pins is a good opportunity, because he’ll say, “Hey, I’ve got a pin I’ll give to you, it’s got a story. Can I share with you that story?” Through the pins, they share the Gospel.
Gregory tells the story to a young volunteer near the entrance to the park. “See this dark area on the pin?” she asks. “That represents those choices that we make that are probably not the best choice. I want to tell you that red represents that God loves us and that he sent his son Jesus to die for us. And when we accept his love and his forgiveness in our life, he makes us clean and white, just like snow.”
Next Olympics, I want to be an atheist chaplain. My only duty would be to intercept christian chaplains on the hunt. Throw myself between the athletes and the hunters.