It may take Olympic-size ignorance and arrogance to turn international sports and goodwill into your own version of the Faith Olympics where We Won! (souls) is your only goal.
As a Chaplain I find this so disappointing.
When I was an Evangelical in my youth, I was on a mission. I desperately needed to preach the Good News to every living thing. If I didn’t tell the Gospel Story to everyone everywhere then God would be disappointed in me and they would go to Hell and God would be very sad to have to torture them for Eternity (we know how very sad torturers are when they torture!). What was my faith but “sharing the message of Christ”? Virtually nothing. I was a Bible-Believer and the “Word” told me to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28). I was a modern day Paul, who defended himself before King Agrippa with the words, “I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening might become such as I am” (Acts 26). It was clear: The whole world MUST become Christian (MY kind of Christian).
The only problem was, there were billions who already had faith; maybe not MY faith, but they had faith. And there were billions more who were fine without faith. Hell was filling up fast! If only I could be sent to the Olympics!
Thank Goodness I grew out of this adolescent stage. I met others, learned from experience, and eventually became a Chaplain. Over 25 years among women and men with a thousand different stories, with a thousand different world views, I learned that a Chaplain is not a preacher but a student. . .of life, of the good and the tragic and the wonderful. Yes, a teacher and counselor and person of service. But mostly a person of active compassion, interfaith collaboration, welcoming diversity and enjoying the spectrum of humanity. In my experience, this is the “winner” when it comes to really helping other people who are People, not “Souls.”
My hope is that some of these “Sport Chaplains” will come to see and understand that their “gospel” is not good news to everyone and it is simply irrelevant to most people in the world. I hope they are taught by many people there at the Olympics in Sochi– volunteers, visitors and athletes–and learn that diverse people getting along and enjoying the Good News of Athletic Competition is much, much better than an Americanized Gospel of Competition.
Faith is not a sport, life is not a sport, and, sometimes I cheer on the other guy/gal/country. . .something I learned coaching the (special) Olympics.