I have never seen Vancouver so electric, so dynamic, so alive. When Vancouver won the Olympic Men’s Hockey game, more than 500,000 Vancouverites flooded the streets, so many that the police had to temporarily shut down the bus system. Canada, who has never won Gold when twice before hosting the Olympics, was privileged to win 14 gold medals, the largest number ever won by any country.
In the midst of Canada’s unexpected Gold Rush, the Body of Christ was there pointing to More Than Gold. More Than Gold is a movement of churches that gathers at each Olympics to let people know that while winning gold is exciting, there is something worth more than gold: the good news of Jesus Christ. The Christians in Vancouver have been preparing for years for this 17-day Olympic outreach. We had extensive training by the Billy Graham people, Campus Crusade for Christ/Power to Change, Alpha, and many others. Serving as an Anglican representative on the MTG Executive Committee, I was impressed by the phenomenal response of the local churches with over 4,000 people volunteering to serve. Perhaps the biggest hit was the over 600,000 cups of free coffee and hot chocolate handed out at skytrain, subway, and bus stations. The buzz around the complimentary hot coffee was palpable. As one of the 40 Community Chaplains, I was able to visit many Olympic pavilions and More Than Gold CaPA Aha! concerts, sharing the love of Jesus Christ in word and deed.
Tens of thousands of Olympic visitors were willing to receive the high quality More Than Gold literature with its focus on Olympic athletes who profess Christ. The Pocket Guide sponsored by the Billy Graham Association and produced by More Than Gold was a big hit, with its free maps and personal testimonies by Athletes. Based on loving conversations, many visitors were happy to receive special Olympic-edition Gospels of Mark produced by the Canadian Bible Society. Over 1,100 missionaries came to Vancouver from North America and around the world, including over 180 YWAM youth who did street drama, served coffee, and set up ‘free prayer’ stations.
Seldom have we seen Christians work so well together in reaching out in mission. The Anglican Coalition in Canada, which is the Canadian wing of the Anglican Mission, was an official sponsor of the More Than Gold outreach, along with our sister ACNA jurisdiction the Anglican Network in Canada. Virtually all faithful churches were involved in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Our own congregation St. Simon’s North Vancouver commissioned fifteen volunteers who served free coffee and hot chocolate at 430am in the morning to people going to the Cypress Mountain Olympic site. They came back from doing this, excited and grateful to God.
Christians in Vancouver are asking ‘what can we do together in the future?’ More Than Gold is encouraging the local churches to play their part in the Paralympics and beyond. Please keep us in prayer in Vancouver that this new ‘unity for the sake of mission’ momentum will be maintained for the sake of the lost.
Rev Ed Hird, Rector, St Simon’s Church North Vancouver, BC
Communications Director for the Anglican Coalition in Canada
-originally published in the Anglican Mission March Currents