|The Salvation Army band performed and
served tea and coffee on the day the Olympic Torch
passed through Maidenhead.
The 2012 Olympics are quickly approaching. In just a couple of weeks, thousands of athletes from over 200 countries will pour into London to compete in 300 different sporting events. The Salvation Army is teaming up with More than Gold programme to bring in mission teams from across the world.
The Christian community has been involved in the world's major sporting events for decades, but mainly working independently of each other in the early years. In the late 1980's partnerships between sports mission agencies and local churches began to develop. These partnerships opened up opportunities for the Church to offer a wider range of officially authorized projects including water distribution, hosting athletes' families, chaplaincy, creative arts performances, and supplying literature resources.
Leading up to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, one Christian agency recognized the need for a uniting name and identity that would provide opportunities for faith-based outreach, hospitality and service and a relationship between the Games' committee and the Church. As a result, the name ‘More Than Gold' was developed.
The official Olympic Torch passes by
the Rayleigh Salvation Army hall.
This year, 22 Salvation Army teams from 16 territories will travel to the United Kingdom to aid in missional work in and around London. The teams have been allocated according to their different strengths and characteristics to predominantly help and minister to specific corps and surrounding areas. Some teams may also be used in wider Salvation Army programmes such as water distribution across London (including the Olympic marathons, Hadleigh Farm and within the Olympic Park).
The territories sending More than Gold teams include Australia Eastern, Australia Southern, Belgium/France, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, India Northern, Korea, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland, USA Southern, and USA Western.
In the ten weeks leading up to the Games, the Olympic Torch will pass through over 1,000 communities throughout the United Kingdom. At the same time, a 70-day prayer relay has been taking place, with cascades of prayer and praise heralding through the villages, towns and cities. A ‘Praise Bus' carrying worshipping singers and musicians has followed as much of the Torch route as possible in mainland Great Britain. Open Air prayer events have taken place in the 70 towns through which the Torch has travelled.
The Prayer Torch is passed off
to the Feltham and Banbury Corps.
London Divisions within the United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland Territory have been praying 24/7 for the fire of the Holy Spirit to fall. The Central South Division has been praying for transformation in corps and communities and has passed a prayer flame around every corps and centre from March to August. The London South East Division is using the theme: Torchbearers - Carry the Light and praying from March to July. The London Central Division launched a Prayer Torch Relay in April at THQ with a prayer breakfast attended by 70 people. The London North East Division launched a prayer relay in May, especially praying for Hadleigh Farm where the Mountain Biking event will take place.
The United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland Territory would value prayer support for the following:
- Torch relay and the prayer relay. That the blessings of God will flow around the UKT as the light of Christ is declared on the nation.
- The staff and volunteers of the SA emergency vehicles and mobile canteens who will be at strategic places during the Games, offering water and other refreshments in the name of Jesus.
- Games Pastors who will be showing Christian love and practical help to anyone who needs them.
- The Salvation Army Hadleigh Farm site where the Mountain Biking will take place. There will be thousands of visitors from around the world on SA land. Pray that the blessing of God will be felt in that place.
- Mission Teams from 16 territories who will come to the UKT and share their faith. Pray for safe travel, excellent hosts and amazing opportunities to be Christ to those who as yet do not understand His salvation.
- Athlete Family Homestay programme: for all hosts and their visitors that good and lasting relationships will be formed. Pray blessing on those who would otherwise not be able to see their family members competing.
- Social Justice: for those working alongside the homeless, providing fair trade opportunities, working to free those who are trafficked.
- Sports Mission: For a legacy of sports coaches and sports teams in The SA after the Games are over.
- Community festivals/events: many corps and centres are holding specific events and celebrations to coincide with the Games, there will be Olympic themed Holiday Clubs for kids, opening and closing ceremony parties and bar-be-ques, sports quiz nights, sports days and much more. Pray for the relationships that will be formed and grow between Christians and the community. Pray that the communities will see the church serving and loving and blessing in the name of Jesus and through that be influenced for good.