While the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, won’t begin until next year, a number of Christian ministries have long been gearing up for a massive outreach effort. International organizations are partnering with local churches to prepare for visitors from around 100 nations.
Sochi is just one of those cities, says Kulakoff. "The churches are already being mobilized and the churches are being prepared for this once-in-a-lifetime event. The churches are praying that God will give them wonderful opportunities."
Who will be the focus of ministry? Kulakoff says they'll be reaching the people who will "come to Sochi: not just the Russian, but the foreigners also, in providing a New Testament in English and in the Russian language. We'll also have the Gospel of John just in the Russian language."
Engage Sochi, an outreach of the International Mission Board, plans to focus on those who live and work in the Russian city. Charisma News explains:
Staff members and volunteers from Baptist conventions in Oklahoma and Georgia recently spent a week with IMB missionaries in the host city to plan for the Engage Sochi emphasis. Engage Sochi is an IMB initiative that mobilizes Southern Baptists to reach the people of Sochi by sharing the gospel and planting churches.
“I think it is important for conventions to be leading out in Olympic ministry,” said Georgia Baptist Convention staffer Marty Youngblood, a veteran of Olympic ministries. “It allows us to reach the world in a much more responsible way, as far as our resources go.”
The Winter Olympics begin February 7, 2014, and will feature more than 2,500 athletes competing in 98 events. Organizers expect over 2 million attendees to the games.