An estimated 4 billion people will turn their attention to the 2008 Olympic games, held in Beijing, China.
Staff members from Athletes in Action, the sports ministry of Campus Crusade, created an evangelistic DVD featuring Olympic athletes entitled "Struggle & Triumph."
The title of the DVD was inspired by a quote from Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic movement. "The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle," he said. "The essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well."
One Year in the Making
The project cost nearly $350,000, and took a year to complete.
"Our goal was not to make money," says Terry Bortz, operations director for AIA's media department. "We want to reach as many people as possible with the gospel message."
Featuring interviews and footage of six different Olympic athletes, the DVD is available in 36 languages. "Because the DVD covers the world's major languages," says Terry, "you know that you can hand it to anyone you meet in any country."
One of the featured athletes is Allyson Felix, a standout track and field athlete from the United States. The girl they used to call "chicken legs" is now poised for Olympic greatness, though her passion for running goes beyond just athletic accolades.
"My speed is a gift from God," says Allyson. "My main purpose for running is that maybe someone can see something different in me, or maybe I can say something that will reach out to someone."
Another athlete from Rwanda, Dieudonne Disi, tells a tale of an unimaginably tragic past. This standout distance runner personally experienced the evils of his country's genocide but later found God and competitive running.
The DVD's Impact
Beyond the athletes' testimonies, the DVD also includes a clear gospel presentation at the end.
"Sports is an universal language," says Terry. "The DVD is designed to be an easy tool for people to use."
During the 2006 World Cup, AIA's media department worked on a similar project, "The Prize," which featured various soccer athletes from around the world. Millions of people used this timely tool to tell people about Christ.
"We wanted the same thing with the Olympics, except we wanted to make the impact even bigger," says Terry.
And now "Struggle and Triumph" is being spread across the globe.
In Singapore, 10,000 copies of the DVD are being used by churches and the International Sports Coalition and more than 40,000 copies are being used in combination with the JESUS film in Japan.
Also, in Africa and South America, several television stations will air the video.
AIA is distributing the DVD as widely as possible, even giving away master copies of the DVD to other ministries, to aid in replication To order a copy visit Athletes in Action online store.
"We really have no idea how many copies of it now exist," says Terry. "Literally millions of people will see it."
As a result, this years Olympics could offer more just good sports entertainment. Some people may get a chance to begin a relationship with God.