The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is helping change lives at the Tokyo Olympics.
FCA Japan is a founding member of Japan International Sports Partnership. Both the partnership and the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association created “Japan1Million,” a movement that encourages Christians around the world to sign up for one-hour prayer slots during the span of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The goal is to cover Japan with one million hours of prayer during the Olympics and Paralympic Games.
“This dedicated community is open to Christians from around the world who can join us by registering through the ‘Japan1Million’ website for daily prayer updates and access to global prayer gatherings,” said Will Thompson, director of FCA Japan.
But FCA, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., didn’t wait until this year to organize with like-minded groups.
When the International Olympic Committee announced in 2013 that Tokyo would host the 2020 games, Thompson saw enormous opportunity. After years of building relationships within Japan’s sports community, he began connecting with ministries, churches and coalitions to leverage this major global spotlight. Japan’s hosting of the Olympics, he believed, would spark a new vision for sports ministry, and when the pandemic postponed the games for a year, FCA stayed focused, using the time for even more preparation.
“A group of us were thinking, ‘God, You had this plan from the beginning!’’ Thompson said. “Was the whole purpose of having the Olympics in Japan to mobilize the global church through this prayer initiative?
“We have been resonating with the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho, because they only had one option to overcome the enemy, and this could be similar to our work now in Japan during and after the games. We sincerely believe God is preparing an awakening and bringing people to himself.”
A major source of encouragement is Yoriko Okamoto, the Japanese taekwondo bronze medalist at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and a supporter of FCAJapan. Not only has Okamoto chosen to partner with FCA as a volunteer and donor, she also is a chaplain giving insight from her years as a top-level athlete, leading a Huddle in Osaka, and helping start 3Dimensional Coaching to support other Japanese coaches and athletes.
“She is on fire for God,” Thompson said. “We have a champion to engage in sports ministry who is also a high-profile athlete and an amazing witness for Christ.”
Other organizations are joining in. As the Tokyo Games reach their final few days a team of Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries are using all means possible to share the Christian message in a nation where 99 percent of the population has yet to know Jesus From teaching English on the streets, to even dressing up as a samurai this dedicated team is engaging in hundreds of people who might otherwise have never heard the gospel.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice