With Sochi and the Winter Olympics on the minds of individuals stateside and abroad alike, one company and Cirlot client, Shields of Strength, is setting out to make a difference. The company, along with Athletes in Action (AIA), a ministry of Cru (formerly know as Campus Crusades for Christ), plan on sharing God’s Word in Olympic village.
A story too good not to share, these two Christian ministries have worked together to successfully plan and now execute a strategy to share their message.
Kenny Vaughan, founder of Shields of Strength understands the fear and pressure that Olympians experience during competition. While trying to win a U.S. Nationals for the water ski long jump, he described a comparable feeling that he was insufficient.
“The unique thing about an athlete, especially in the Olympics, is that they are prepared for pressure,” said Vaughan. “But until that moment when you should be disciplined, it’s then when you find yourself saying, ‘God, I need you.’ Right then is when you’re even weaker than you realized.”
Equipped with 200 shields, Athletes in Action, Cru’s athletic ministry, is serving at the 2014 Winter Olympics. During the games, they will minister to coaches and competing athletes by providing spiritual, emotional, and mental support in the multi-faith center of the Olympic Village.
“Athletes in competition think if they have enough courage, they can overcome fear. But really that thought is the trap of life. And it’s not courage, but love that overcomes fear. It’s the courage to love that makes us courageous,” said Vaughan. “That’s the message of God’s word, and Athletes in Action is taking advantage of this opportunity to share that truth.”
During his time of doubt and fear, Vaughan’s girlfriend (now wife), Tammie, wrote scriptures on his ski equipment, which, through God’s power, found their way into his heart and eased his fears. This led Vaughan to inscribe verses onto dog tags and wear them underneath his shirt.
From that first shield, Shields of Strength has grown to also include women’s jewelry and other accessories, like key chains and athletic tape. Seventeen years later, the company hopes that the shields can help Olympians as they face the same trials during competition.
Athletes in Action team member and Olympic Chaplain Carl Dambman has been ministering to Olympic athletes in both the summer and winter games for the past 33 years. He said a dozen AIA staff and volunteers will distribute the shields to athletes who are seeking God’s word.
“The world’s eyes are on heroes of the sports fields, and we want to strengthen and encourage them as people watch them relying on God as their Creator, their Savior, and the One who gave them the talents to perform,” Dambman said. “If Shields of Strength can help them in their walk with the Lord, then we’re all for partnering with whoever wants to lift up Christ.”
Vaughan said that the company has donated over one million of the three million shields they produced to individuals, the U.S. military, churches, and ministries such as Athletes in Action. Both Vaughan and Dambman find that the organizations’ new partnership works well.
“Our missions align well because we can give them a tool to help them share Christ through a one-on-one relationship,” Vaughan said.
To learn more about Shields of Strength, visit the website: http://www.shieldsofstrength.com/
Above: Sarah of Athletes in Action with with speed skater Jilleanne Rookard wearing a Shields of Strength necklace. Her testimony can be found at http://beyondtheultimate.org/athlete/Jilleanne-Rookard.