Jack O’Halloran’s Olympic passion

“If you had told me seven years ago that my passion for sports and ministry is actually ministry, I’d think you were crazy!” That’s how Jack O’Halloran, the man responsible to organize a Christian initiative for the 2010 Olympics, describes his awe over the circumstances of his present life.

When O’Halloran came to Christ seven years ago, he had been a successful businessman, living in the Tsawwassen area, B.C. Now, “I make less money than I have in 15 years – and my life’s the best it’s ever been.” He has been to every major world sporting event (except Beijing) in the last four years, not as a mere spectator, but as a Christian, doing ministry.

O’Halloran is organizing and promoting a Christian effort to lead people to Jesus during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver-Whistler. It is hoped 500 churches will take part.

The effort is called More Than Gold (from 1 Peter 1:7). Already, more than 200 churches are “in” – and 12 denominations are active partners.

“When I look at all these denominational leaders who have the city on their heart – that’s when I see God at work,” says O’Halloran.

The B.C. MB Conference is an official participant in the outreach and churches are being encouraged to take part.

Preparing with prayer

“There is a mission field coming to Canada,” says O’Halloran.

“We will prepare for it with 100 days of prayer – called Canada Ablaze – as the torch relay proceeds across the country.” As the games draw near, churches are being encouraged to reach out, not only to Olympic athletes and visitors, but to their local communities.

The vision of More Than Gold is not solely sports. “We take the excuse of sport to grab great opportunities to call Christians to action,” he says. Some churches are planning major community events like watching the opening and closing ceremonies together on a big screen; some will have local sports events for kids to tie in with the Games. Volunteers will greet visitors at their outdoor transportation pickup points, offering a warm drink and conversation. Others will host the families of athletes.

“Our planning committee’s whole focus is to encourage Christians to love and to serve.” O’Halloran says it is not about “What would you like us to do?” but rather, “What’s on your heart?” Since the Atlanta games, MTG workers have built up a wealth of training, vision, methodology, and expertise to share among churches.

“When the games come to B.C., there will be a field so rich for sowing the seed that it’s unimaginable,” O’Halloran says. But the glow in his eyes shows he’s imagining already.

—Barrie McMaster

For more information, see www.morethangold.ca. BCMB’s representative is conference administrator Marilyn Hiebert.

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