Friday, February 26, 2010

Medals Ceremony

Up early for the morning shift at the Athletes Village alongside chaplains Nick (from North Vancouver - called "North Van") and Dr. Lawrence (from Boston, MA). Nick is a pastor in the North Van area, and Dr. Lawrence is a retired pastor who nows works part-time as a chaplain on cruise ships.

On my way in to the Multi-Faith Centre I saw some of the USA bobsled coaches and congratulated them on their bronze medal from the day before. Also, I saw the USA Nordic Combined (cross country skiing and ski jumping) team on their way to their competition. I saw Billy Demong and told him "Congratulations" for his medal earlier in the week. Little did I know he was on his way to earning a gold medal in the competition today! Congrats Billy!

An alpine skier joined us for Bible study this morning, which focused on John 6:68. Nick led a good Bible study and then we prayed for the athletes, for the volunteers, for the spectators, for the workers, and anyone else we could think to pray for.

I had a good conversation with one of the workers inside the Athletes Village today. She said her family has never really attended church, and she didn't know much about the Bible. But she said if I wanted to bring her a Bible she would check it out. I brought her a "More Than Gold" New Testament and showed her where the Gospel of John was. I explained how the New Testament is 27 short books so you don't have to necessarily read it from page 1 to the end. Pray that she will read it, and that God will draw her to Himself. Pray that for all of the people we've given Bibles to.

Ever since the tragic accident and death of Nodar, the luge athlete from the Republic of Georgia, we have had a "book of condolences" for volunteers, staff, athletes and coaches to sign. We've kept it in the Multi-Faith Centre so that everyone could have access to it, and so that people could take a private moment to pray for his family as they sign the book and write him a note. But, now that the Games are almost over, we decided to move the book inside the Athletes Cafeteria so that everyone who has not had a chance to write in it can do so conveniently. The VANOC staff moved it over today. There is quite a protocol that must be followed for something like that to be moved to a new location. Pray that the words people wrote will help to comfort Kodar's family and that God will show them His love, mercy and grace.

In the afternoon I caught up with Erin Pac's family & friends to go to the Medals Plaza for the Medals Ceremony. It was pretty exciting. I was standing near Erin's family & friends, Elana's family & friends, and Shelly Ann's family & friends. They let the family & friends get really close to the stage for great pictures. When they put the medals on the medalists, you could see the happiness on their faces and the tears of joy in their eyes. They awarded many medals for events from the past two days. Some took place in Whistler (where we are) and some in Vancouver (which they showed to us live on the big screen).

If you'd like to read an article from BP News about Erin and Elana's bronze medal performance - and what role God had in their victory - click HERE.

After the Medals Ceremony, we boarded a bus to take us to the USA House for a celebration in Erin & Elana's honor. The USA House is a house rented by the USOC to be used for these types of celebrations as well as meetings, interviews, etc that need to be done away from the Villages. Teresa McAlpin, a member of our church and USOC staff, is one of the front-desk workers at the USA House. She and the rest of the team greeted us, got us signed in, etc. It was great to see her. Teresa showed me some verses of Scripture that the Lord had laid on her heart that she had written down to be an encouragement to the Christian athletes.

We had some good food to eat at the USA House. My wife Kim would have been proud of me for trying some food that I've never eaten before. It was all delicious.

At the USA House I was able to connect with a lot of the bobsled coaches, staff, and administration. I saw some friends who are going to the four-man race tomorrow and we made plans to meet up and hike to the Start line grandstands together. It was a privilege and a blessing to be there at the house.

A couple of last thoughts. The best part about the Medals Ceremony (from an earthly perspective) is to see the celebration and joy of people being together, celebrating the accomplishments of someone else. Everybody was getting along, so many different countries, all of whom had just been hours earlier competing against each other, now were applauding those who were the winners. But it is true in saying that all who compete are winners.

From a sociological point of view, it was interesting to see how much people love music, dancing and celebrating. It makes me think that we as Christians need to think about that in worship services because there are ways to do all those things in a Christ-honoring way. That brings me to my last thought. It's going to be pretty amazing in heaven when we get to enjoy music, and dancing, and celebrating, and being rewarded, and getting to place our crowns at the feet of Jesus. That's a Medals Ceremony that you should be really looking forward to!

1 comment:

Pat Ritter said...

Derek, Hey, this is Pat Ritter from NY. Sounds like you all are having a wonderful time at the Olympics. An awesome observation: at the medals ceremony each athlete bows his/her head when the medal is being placed around their neck. That is like a picture of how God works in our lives. When we humble ourselves he brings honor to us/lifts us up (James 4:10).