More than 9,000 student athletes, officials from over 170 countries – A 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:
“The highlight of my trip was when I got to meet a woman from the New Zealand women’s water polo team one day in the Chapel. One of our student-volunteers spoke that night about freedom. After the chapel I talked with her and I asked what she thought. She shared that the talk about freedom impacted her because she could relate to what this student-volunteer was sharing and that as an athlete she too has had sports-related injuries. The talk made her view it from a “God-like perspective” which she has never thought of before. I then I began to ask her more about her background. Being a Samoan I could relate to her that although she went to church it was only to appease her parents but she found going to her church was boring. I asked her if anyone ever shared what it meant to know God personally with her? She said she was interested, so I went through the Knowing God Personally booklet with her.
But before I shared the booklet, I asked her two questions: From a scale of 0 to 100 if you were to die tonight how sure are you that you would spend eternity with God? The second question was: If you were to die tonight and you were to stand before God and he asked you, “Why should I let you into my Heaven?”, what would you say? She replied that she didn’t know what to say.
I proceeded to introduce the Knowing God Personally booklet, saying “As I share this booklet this will help you answer those two questions that I asked you”. We went through the booklet and she agreed with everything that was in the booklet. We got to the place where I showed two circles (showing a self-directed life, and a Christ-directed life) and asked her which circle she was in. She said that she was in the self-directed circle but wanted to be in the Christ-directed circle. Then I shared the page with a simple prayer on it, where you apologise for going your own way, and ask Christ to take first place in your life. I asked if she would like to pray to invite Christ into her life. At first she was a little hesitant, so I showed her another page that explains what happens if you ask Jesus into your life: That Christ will come into your life, He will forgive all your sins, you will become a child of God, You will be given a new power to live a transformed life and that you will start a friendship with God that will last forever.
After that I was blown away when she asked if I would pray with her to receive Christ! Please be praying that we follow up with her well.”
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, grab a pack of Knowing God Personally booklets yourself , or download the GodTools app and see what your teammates think!