Andrea Mullins is the publisher for New Hope Books, a division of WMU. She's a long time friend and is a tireless advocate for missions. This year she is leading a team to Sochi, Russia, for outreach and evangelism among the Olympic athletes and tourists. She was kind enough to chat with me about this, right as she was boarding her plane to head to the Olympics:
How did WMU begin it's work at the Olympic games?
WMU started sending teams to the Olympics in 1996 when they came to Atlanta. We were beginning a new missions volunteer program for young women and decided that the Olympics would be a great way to launch the program. We had 40 teams of women serving in Atlanta, Birmingham, Tennessee and North Carolina.
What compels WMU to do this work? What is it about the Olympics that provides opportunity for evangelism and outreach?
The Olympics is unique in the openness of people from around the world to hear the gospel as well as an openness of locals to attend a variety of Olympics-related events and ministries. The natural barriers that keep people from speaking to strangers come down when everyone is wearing their Olympic gear, pins, scarves, hats, etc. Often we are working with the local church to support their outreach ministries.
Is there anything particular about this year's games in Sochi that are especially challenging about WMU's outreach?
As for Sochi we have weighed and prayed as more news of terrorists, bad hotels, etc, has been heard, and all of us have continued to believe that Christians need to be there, and we can trust God. We feel he is leading us and we look forward to see what he will so. We will be supporting the efforts of our representatives there. There are seven of us on my team but WMU has already been involved in some earlier activities leading up to the Olympics.
How can Southern Baptists pray about the WMU outreach at the games?
Pray we will be bold, have the stamina we need, accomplish the goals of the planning team, and represent Christ in a way that draws people to him.