Christians bonding at Winter Olympics

Ruth Mihalik wins bronze medal at Fun Zone competition in Sochi, Russia.

Ruth Mihalik wins bronze medal at Fun Zone competition in Sochi, Russia.

Russia (MNN) — Many times it’s difficult getting Christians from other countries to work together. Sometimes Americans like to take over. Sometimes countries expect Americans to fund projects. Other times the cultural differences are just too hard to overcome. But that’s not the case in Sochi, Russia where an international team of Christians is being salt and light at the Winter Olympics.

Russian and American Christians are bonding and reaching out together at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. MNN’s Greg Yoder is embedded with SOAR International, just one of many organizations partnering with churches in Sochi to introduce people to Jesus.

At any given time, more than 50 Christians work together to make the City Center “Fun Zone” a success. What’s a fun zone? Local churches in the community as well as Christian organizations in Russia organized a hospitality tent of residents, international visitors and others to use the Olympics as a way to establish relationships will the hope being able to share Jesus.

Christian radio in the U.S. had a hand in helping SOAR International recruit volunteers for this effort. Mission Network News daily e-mail updates recruited a couple from South Africa. Dave and Christie Gilburt have been loyal subscribers to the daily e-mails for years and have been working in Russia for years. They thought working with this international group of Christians would expand their ministry.

Ruth Mihalik helps with puppet show in the Fun Zone.

Ruth Mihalik helps with puppet show in the Fun Zone.

MNN also had a hand in God leading Ruth Mihalik from Ohio to the team. “I actually heard about it on Moody Radio,” she says. “There was a short spot on Mission Network News. Actually, my mom heard it and said, ‘This fits you perfectly.'”

God’s providence is amazing. Mihalik has been studying Russian. She’s been key in helping Russia Christians. “We’ve been teaching them how to do some things. They’ve been taking it and kind of running with it and improving it.”

She used her abilities to help write the script for the Wordless Book puppet show. She also interpreted for the team. Plus, additional interaction with Russian team members and Russian visitors has been invaluable.

The pool of opportunities God used to introduce people to Jesus has been amazing. Mihalik says, “There are a lot of Russians visiting here from other places. Some of them have come in from Moscow, or St. Petersburg, or Krasnodar. We just had an Indian couple here.”

According to Mihalik, she thinks all Christians should go on a mission trip where they actually work side-by-side sharing the Gospel. “You can encourage them, and they can encourage you, too, just to see how God works in so many different ways.”

SOAR International schedules trips regularly to Russia, not just during the Olympics. They provide opportunities in the Spring for their Easter Basket delivery campaign, camp ministry in the summer, and their Stuff A Stocking campaign takes place at Christmas time. All opportunities are available on their Web site.

If you’d like to see the Fun Zone in action, click below.