What better place for Christian athletes to talk about the peace offered through Jesus Christ than at the Olympic Games, a venue intended to promote peace and unity through the medium of sports. And at this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, several Christian athletes are competing. Here are a few you’ll want to watch.
Kelly Clark is snowboarding’s most decorated Olympian. This will be her fifth appearance in the Winter Games.
Christian Athletes Tell Their Stories
It would not be a stretch to say Clark was introduced to God on the slopes. She was competing at an event where one of the contestants fell twice. The girl was in tears. A friend tried to console the fallen athlete saying, “Hey, it’s alright, God still loves you.”
Clark says the comment caught her attention and she couldn’t shake it. She went back to her hotel room in search of a Bible but didn’t know where to start.
“I found out that the girl who made the comment was staying in my hotel. I knocked on her door and said, ‘Hey, my name’s Kelly and I think you might be a Christian and I think you need to tell me about God.’
And at the same time I got a little nervous because I had never thought about God before a day in my life. I had never once wondered why we are here, I had never thought about Him, never been to church, nothing. I had no grid for any of this.
And so I spent the next four months thinking, ‘OK, God, if You’re real, reveal Yourself to me.’ I got to the end of my season and I asked myself a few questions like, ‘Could I ever wake up another day and not think about God?’ And the answer was ‘no’ because I was thinking about Him every day and He was real and in my life. And [another question I asked was]: ‘Could I ever run the other way and pretend He didn’t exist?’ That answer was also ‘no.’ And so I came to a conclusion and said, ‘Alright, Jesus, come and live life with me.’”
Clark is competing in the halfpipe.
Another halfpipe Christian Olympian is David Wise. This is David’s second Olympic appearance. Four years ago, in Sochi, he became the first Olympic gold medalist in men’s halfpipe skiing.
Wise has said his Christian faith gives him a sense of security that would not be found in the airborne sport of freestyle halfpipe skiing.
“Faith plays a huge role because it enables me to be confident,” Wise said in 2014. “I don’t have to worry about what’s happening or the outside influences as much because I feel like I can trust God, and he’s going to see me through. I can look back on my path and realize that God had a pretty significant part in taking care of me. It takes the pressure off and I can enjoy it.”
Faith Equals Confidence for Many Christian Athletes
Nick Goepper is also competing as a freestyle skier in the Winter Games. He says his faith brings confidence in both sports and life:
“This past summer I got really sick for two months and had my tonsils removed. A week after that, I broke my hand and had to get surgery on it. The recovery was really frustrating because I had to skip three weeks at the beginning of the season. But I flipped it around and took it as a blessing. I said a lot of prayers and just asked God to do His thing. I did other things to compliment the recovery like getting the right sleep and taking care of my body. But I went back to the doctor after four weeks and he was ecstatic about the recovery of my hand. I take that as a tribute to my faith and my belief in doing the right things.
I like to quote the verse, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” I kind of envision me skiing and God is kind of like an eagle right next to me screeching in my ear that everything is going to be all good. I just try my best and that’s all I can ask for.”
Goepper won a bronze medal at the Sochi Olympic games.
Shane Doan just completed a stellar 21 year career in the NHL. He’ll be playing for Team Canada.