Kingdom purposes for Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Sometimes God calls us to things we never imagined we could do
If Tokyo gets the Olympics, it’s for kingdom purposes. Those were the words I heard from the Lord in 2013, the night before Tokyo’s winning bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics was announced by the International Olympic Committee.
I was skeptical about Tokyo’s winning chances. However, when I heard those words from God, followed by the announcement on television the following morning, I knew somehow that not only had my missionary career gotten an upgrade but my mission in life had as well. I felt as if I was being catapulted to places I had never dreamed of going to.
When I returned to the States for fund-raising in 2015 I spoke at over 100 churches, calling them to pray for the Tokyo Olympics. My prayer cards featured a logo that said “Tokyo 2020 Vision,” although I had no idea what that vision looked like. I found myself praying for things I had never known to pray for before, because I had never been involved in sports evangelism, or any other evangelism on a massive scale. God began to lead me into that unknown world, and it was all birthed in prayer. In particular, I began to pray on the 20th of every month for the 2020 Olympics. Little by little that prayer movement has been growing, and as prayer increases, God is opening new doors.
Door one: Reach Out 2020
I was unexpectedly contacted about working with Lay Witnesses for Christ International (LWFCI) about their evangelism plans for Tokyo called “Reach Out 2020 Japan.”
The founder and director Dr. Sam Mings, who is also known as the founder of sports evangelism, has already led Reach Out evangelism movements at the past nine summer Olympics, spanning close to 40 years.1 Athlete of the 20th century, Carl Lewis, serves on the board of LWFCI and will be in Tokyo for Reach Out 2020 along with other former Olympians and famous athletes.
Reach Out 2020 Japan will hold evangelistic meetings at interested churches in the Tokyo area during the days of the Olympics to highlight local churches and pastors. They will organize Right Track meetings (drug, alcohol, and violence prevention program) for children and youth; and evangelistic meetings for adults. Athletes will be spinning basketballs, riding unicycles, etc. to attract people to the churches. There will also be an “Evening With the Olympians” featuring Carl Lewis and other athletes. According to Dr. Mings, the media follows athletes and therefore he expects to bring media attention to the churches. These athletes are coming for the purpose of proclaiming that we are “Stars for Christ,” a slogan on the back of every uniform that will be worn not only by the athletes but also by the involved pastors.
Reach Out 2020 Japan will also provide a place for athletes participating in the 2020 Olympics to have access to world-class athletes who are coming to spread the gospel. Christian athletes who aren’t competing in these games, as well as those who have finished their events, will use their platforms of fame for the sake of the kingdom of God, and share the need to reach for “More than Gold” through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
To make Reach Out 2020 a success, we are in need of housing in Christian homes, volunteers to assist with translation and transportation, and churches who are open to evangelistic meetings.
Please contact me for information or involvement: Shelley Carl, Japan Coordinator for Reach Out 2020.2 Also please join us in prayer for unprecedented media attention for the kingdom of God during the Tokyo Olympics.
Door two: World Sports Mission Japan
As plans for Reach Out 2020 Japan progressed, I was invited to be a board member of World Sports Mission Japan (WSMJ).
WSMJ is serving as an umbrella ministry to coordinate three areas of outreach for the Tokyo Olympics:
1) Creating a master list of who is doing what and where. Christian groups will be coming from around the world for this unprecedented opportunity to touch Japan for Jesus, and WSMJ is working to network these groups. As part of the networking efforts, WSMJ is searching for churches and Christian individuals who can provide housing, and is coordinating with incoming groups here to do evangelism (who are not connected with Reach Out 2020) regarding their housing needs.
2) Working with Athletes in Action to coordinate providing chaplains for the Olympic athletes.
3) Creating a master list of churches in Tokyo and surrounding areas that have services in languages other than Japanese. This will be provided to tourists looking for church services during the Olympics.
If you can provide assistance in any of these three areas or have questions relating to WSMJ, please contact John LaDue3 or check out the World Sports Mission Japan Facebook page.
In addition to those three primary goals, I am working with WSMJ to focus on prayer during the Olympics. We are creating an email list to encourage pastors to lead their churches in prayer for the Olympics on the 20th of each month. We are also planning to host prayer events on the 20th of each month beginning January 2020. You can join us in praying—by receiving updates via email, or by attending or hosting a prayer event. Please contact me if you are interested.
Door three: Wounded Tiger
As the above two doors are now swinging wide open, a third door is becoming evident. I was recently contacted by missionary Timothy Boyle regarding a project he is involved with that includes the upcoming Japanese translation and future movie release of T. Martin Bennett’s riveting book Wounded Tiger.
Boyle reminded me that August 15, 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2. “Wounded Tiger is a true story of how . . . Mitsuo Fuchida—the man who led both the planning and the execution of the Pearl Harbor raid—became a Christian evangelist after the war.” Boyle said the book “beautifully weaves together three strands of the story: Fuchida himself; Jake DeShazer, who came to faith while suffering horribly in a Japanese POW camp; and a missionary family by the name of Covell, whose daughter played an integral part in God leading Fuchida to the Christian faith.”4
The goal is to have the Japanese translation published in time to coincide with the Olympics. Bennett believes that “this amazing true story could be a catalyst to cause many to consider Christ in a way they may have never done before.” He is working on finding those with a vision to get this book out to others and with the financial means to help.
If you have further questions or would like to help with this project, please contact Timothy Boyle.5
It has been said, “We need all hands on deck in 2020.” These unprecedented times for the nation, along with unprecedented open doors for evangelism during the Olympics, call for unprecedented efforts from the missionary body in Japan, with the joint vision of seeing the gospel declared. Tokyo got the Olympics for kingdom purposes.
1. See http://www.lwfcireachout.com for the Reach Out website.
2. Contact the author at email@example.com or 090-1634-8439.
3. Regarding World Sports Mission Japan (WSMJ), contact John LaDue at firstname.lastname@example.org or 090-3572-7055.
4. See https://www.woundedtiger.com for more information on Wounded Tiger.
5. Email email@example.com to contact Timothy Boyle.
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