An Olympic-sized Experience

Posted on Sep 17, 2012

An Olympic-sized Experience

For the first time at any Olympics, the thousands of visitors had an extra level of care and support, thanks to an initiative from the local churches.  It is not just the athletes who go higher, faster, and stronger at the Olympics; so do the emotions of the spectators as they attempt to navigate the mayhem and sometimes confusing events.  Helping visitors find the right coins to access the public lavatories or consoling a man who had recently lost his wife and child were all in a day’s work me and the other 300 volunteers serving as Games Pastors.
Engaged in ministry conversation with staff at Kings Cross Station
Local kids eager to receive More Than Gold & Dollywood trading pins
The transportation hubs were full of harried, confused, and lost people, most of who were far from home.  With more than 100,000 travelers expected each day to pass through Kings Cross rail station in London, the station manager and Chaplain realized the need to be ready to offer support during the Olympic Games.  I was part of small team who worked at this particular station offering travellers support, compassion and a listening ear.

We did everything from help a man search for a lost contact lens- and direct him to a pharmacy, to help police calm a drunk and disorderly woman and talk, over a cup of coffee, with a man so consumed by guilt about his role in a fatal car crash that he was considering suicide.  When he left after an hour we knew all his problems weren’t solved, but he went away with some hope.
I was really HERE!
Standing in Olympic runner Usain Bolt’s 100m stride
We developed a close friendship with the local volunteers
Another time I was able to help a Korean student who had caught the wrong train.  I talked for hours with a Christian from India who needed encouragement in his faith.  And I listened as Randolph unloaded a heap of anger and frustration about life and politics.  Randolph was my favorite conversation while I was working at Kings Cross.  He was angry when I first met him; this is how I knew we would become good friends.  I was up for the challenge.  His job was to stand outside the terminal and supervise the area; my job was to drink coffee and listen.  After two days of listening I stopped his ranting and interjected the notions of a God who is predicable, loving, and in control of the universe.  As I was preparing to leave London and return home, I made a point to see Randolph one last time.  He was no longer angry but rather excited about his life.  He expressed a confidence that God has blessed him and that he has begun to explore the reality of God’s goodness and presence.

Thank you to all who offered prayers and thoughts for me while I was on my trip.  I do not know what was most sensational.  Was it being in London?  Going to the Olympics?  Or knowing that I was doing good on a “mission trip”?  Of what I am certain is that God used me, in my place and time, to reveal His presence.  It is easy for our concerns to get stifled in the chaos of home and work.  Sometimes we just need to know someone cares.  Allow yourself to be that support, compassion, or listening ear for a friend.  Open yourself to the movement and rhythms of God; trust Him to lead you to be in the right place at the right time.