Alumnus Jörg Walcher (MAGL '06) spent the recently concluded Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, serving as chaplain for the Austrian team—read his story here. Upon his return, he sent us the following update on his experience.
Athletes from 88 nations came to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Famous athletes know immediately if someone wants to benefit from them in some way. As a chaplain to these athletes, I was there to offer them something genuine: a message and reflection of Jesus' unconditional love. From the beginning of the Olympic Games to the end, I knew that this was the ministry to which I am called.
Looking back at my time in Sochi, what stands out as most meaningful is that I had to be daily and instantly obedient to God's voice. Every morning before going into the Olympic Village I prepared myself by reading God's Word, praying, and doing squats at the same time so as to be fit in spirit, soul, and body. But I didn't read God's Word to feed my brain or to prepare my next church service. I read God's Word, listened, and tried to obey instantly so that I could more and more become it.
One of the verses where I sensed God talking to me was 1 Thessalonians 5:16: "Rejoice always." And from the story of Samson in the Old Testament, it came into my mind that in Samson's hair was his strength, and the enemy wanted his hair. And in Nehemiah 8:10 we read, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." What does the enemy want from us? He wants to steal our joy.
Though there were some big challenges before, during, and right after the Olympics, praise God that I came out even stronger than when I went into the Olympics.
Athletes are used to pushing to the limit in their lives. I found so many hearts of athletes and coaches wide open to receive unconditional love. Jesus walked in love and people couldn't help but follow love! If people cannot see Jesus in us, they don't want what we say we have. The good thing is that the gospel sets us free from us. And if we are free from us, others see Jesus there-the hope of glory! Jörg Walcher in Sochi, Russia