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Vantage point

The dark side of the Olympics

The 27th Summer Olympic Games brought the world together in a common pursuit. But athletes from many of the countries had little in common with regard to how they perceived the challenge of winning a medal.

Also on the Olympics in this issue: News Digest: Quest for souls occupies Christians during Olympics

One young gymnast, from a still-communist nation, had lived apart from her parents from the age of 4. She lost her childhood to a communal life of training with other potential athletes. She saw her parents only two days a year. Add to that the abnormally rigid training regimen of a child being raised expressly to win a gold medal for her country and one can begin to realize the incredible pressure weighing on those small shoulders. The government expected perfection.

Another team from a former communist country clearly displayed the pressure as it achieved what most would covet — a silver medal. But the leadership of its country expected gold. High-fives, hugs and tender words of consolation were replaced with sober demeanors void of any joy; every "failure" was met with disgust by coach and country. Neither teammates nor coach offered consolation for mistakes. Number 2 was not enough; some of the team removed the silver medals from their necks immediately following the medal ceremony.

Most Olympians don’t win gold, yet they are feted by their countries. Some, like those I mentioned, are rejected.

Cultures are different. Though the world met in an advanced country, Australia, the majority of the nations represented by these athletes know nothing of the plenty that such countries possess. Many have populations rife with people who have insufficient sustenance. The Olympics mean little to people who go to bed (or sleep on the ground) hungry.

It is the Christian culture that must reach out to where people are literally dying of starvation. Even in the United States there is a culture most of us don’t understand — an inner-city way of life that finds hungry children paying the price for the bad choices of their parents.

U.S. Christians cannot turn a deaf ear. We must give out of our abundance to save the lives of those without. The commitment of the Assemblies of God takes this one step further. We will never be satisfied with merely giving physical food to someone who is also dying spiritually. The thrust of World Hunger Day is to feed the physically hungry physical food and to feed the spiritually malnourished the Bread of Life.

The Olympics has its dark side. But the world’s darkness is far more serious than the Olympics. And it touches many more lives. Let’s make a difference — for today and for eternity.

— Ken Horn

 

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