More than 9,000 student athletes, officials from over 170 countries. Breeding ground for many future Olympic careers. The 29th World University Games in Taiwan this August was filled with students under colossal pressure. Athletes In Action (AIA) NZ leader Timo Tagaloa and his team joined other AIA staff from around the world to help out at the Religious Centre in the Athletes’ Village.
Each day, we held chapel services for the athletes and made a space where anyone could come in for a chat, prayer or Bible study. Timo shares some of the exciting things that happened there:
“I had the privilege to speak on the first day of Chapel, where I talked about Hope. I told the students that there will be many other athletes hoping to get a gold, silver or bronze medal. Sadly, many will go home empty-handed. However, there is even greater hope offered to all by Christ!
I shared my testimony, telling them how I placed hope for meaning in life in my international rugby career, but only found emptiness. Once I found a personal relationship with God, my life was filled with hope and meaning again. As I was telling them how they could have a new hope by knowing God personally, one of the girls with the Brazilian team attending was wiping tears from her eyes. The message seemed to make a big impact on her.
At the end of the service when I asked if anyone wanted to pray to invite Christ into their lives, one of the girls stood up and dedicated her life then and there! The Brazilian soccer team that this girl was a part of then went on to win the gold medal in the final. Their AIA Brazilian sports chaplain said that what I shared helped motivate those girls to get through those games. Praise the Lord!”
Whether athletes are competing on the international scene, or their local team, it’s amazing the opportunities God provides. If you’d like to support such work in future, get in touch with Athletes in Action NZ today, or grab a pack of Knowing God Personally booklets yourself and see what your teammates think!