How to Evangelize like an Olympian

When I was younger, I remember setting an alarm to wake up before the sun had even risen to watch the U.S. women’s basketball team play in the Olympics. To keep from waking my family, I had the volume turned down to a whisper, forcing me to sit right next to the TV to hear anything more than the referees’ whistles. I remember watching and thinking, “If I work hard enough, I could do that someday.”

I would then imagine what I’d say when I was interviewed following our team’s big win. While I don’t remember exactly what my gold-medal acceptance speech was, I’m pretty sure it didn’t include giving any praise or honor to God.

Most of us will probably never have the opportunity (or the physical ability, let’s be real) to represent Team USA in the Olympics. We will probably never get to have a broadcasted interview as a platform to speak to the world about God. But there are a few who do have the opportunity — and how incredible is it that they are willing and able to do so?

David Boudia and Steele Johnson, two synchronized divers, did just that during the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials in Indianapolis:

These men just qualified for the Olympics, and they used that opportunity to talk about Jesus Christ. They show us that excellence in their sport isn’t above God.

But they were probably always faithful, right? They’re probably used to sharing their faith. David Boudia, who will be competing in his third Olympics, is likely accustomed to saying things like, “We can’t take credit for this. To God be the glory. This is why we do what we do.”

Actually, that isn’t the case. In a 2012 interview with “Inspiring Athletes” columnist Chad Bonham, Boudia shared the reality:

“After 2008, I started my freshman year in college — and coming off the Olympic high, I was starting this new journey by myself. I didn’t have my parents around, and it was really a rebellious time in my life. It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I realized something was wrong. It was like I hit a wall and I was flat down on my face. I didn’t know what direction I was going. I started texting my coach [Adam Soldati], and he had me over the next night. I had a lot of questions about why I was here and what my purpose was. The gospel really provided all of those answers and the fulfillment I needed.”

When asked why he turned to his coach at this particular time, Boudia said, “I just knew that Adam was someone I looked up to, and I didn’t know why. He just provided me with a lot of wisdom. He was someone I could turn to and ask those tough questions. He was real approachable and loving. That’s why I felt like I could come to him.”

It took one person — one real, approachable, loving person — to help redirect this man’s life.

Are you willing to be that person for one of your classmates? For a friend? For someone in your student organization or intramural team? We can all relate to what Boudia was facing his sophomore year, the wall he felt he was hitting — which means these are the questions about our identity and purpose that many around us are also asking.

It is so easy for me to think I can’t possibly have any lasting impact on someone’s life. It’s easy for me to make excuses for not having conversations about faith. But God has led us to where we are for a reason. If we can be bold enough to live from the peace, joy and love that is Jesus Christ, people will notice.

And we won’t have to be on national TV for them to notice, either. We each have a unique circle of influence; we don’t have to have all the answers to start having real conversations with people about our faith. We just have to be willing to be there and to seek out the truth with whoever is in front of us.

So, here’s a little challenge to set us up for returning to campus:

  1. Write down the names of three people you know — people whom you believe God is inviting to get to know Him in a deeper way. Start praying for them!
  2. Ask God about the one thing He desires for them. Then think of one tangible act you can do now to help make that happen.

If every person who reads this post commits to this challenge, think of how many people will have an opportunity to witness Christ living through us! Who knows — maybe one of them will end up on a national interview, sharing their faith with a confidence that only comes from Christ, inspiring others to seek out the source.

Alaina Cuka
Alaina Cuka
Alaina graduated from the University of South Dakota with a B.A. in English and a teaching certificate. Moving to La Crosse was her first time living outside of the cozy plains of South Dakota, and hiking the bluffs there is really challenging her to lose her fear of heights. She loves reading, writing, and going to concerts (and advises finding The Oh Hellos' nearest show, ASAP). Listening to people's stories is one of her favorite things; it is there that she most easily sees God.

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