Olympians Gather for Prayer, Outreach

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BEIJING, China - While thousands of people were praying on the Mall in Washington D.C., 7,200 miles away in the Chinese capital, Olympic athletes were also meeting for a weekend of prayer and outreach.

Carl Lewis Shares Faith

On Sunday afternoon, in front of a packed church auditorium, the man dubbed, "Olympian of the Century" took center stage.

"I competed in four Olympics Games and this is my third Olympics since my retirement," said U.S. Olympic champion Carl Lewis.

Lewis, a legendary American track and field star, shared about his faith and the people who made a spiritual impact on his athletic career.

He said, "Just like God put so many wonderful people in my life, you take the same thing, take the people that He has put in your life and make sure that you are somebody that He put in their life."

Lewis was joined by several other Christian Olympic athletes who took a break from competitions to share about their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

During his message, Lewis took a light-hearted moment to put his own athletic accomplishments in light of U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps record eight Olympic gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.

"All week long, I've had to deal with Michael Phelps questions. about who's the greatest Olympian of all time? Is he the greatest -- or is Carl or so and so the greatest. I was Olympian of the Century and since the century is over they can't take that away!" Lewis declared, drawing laughter from the audience.

Earlier in the day, at the Olympic Village, about 40 athletes, coaches and chaplains, met for Sunday morning worship and prayer.

The Beijing Olympic Committee is providing services for athletes in five religions, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hindu and Judaism.

A Global Ministry

Reid Lamphere is a chaplain with an Ohio-based Christian group that ministers to athletes world-wide.

"There's going to be incredible disappointments and frustrations and not everyone will win a medal and so we want to be there to help bring Jesus Christ to the center of this highlight in their life," Lamphere said.

Athletes in Action has permission by the Chinese government to distribute a documentary highlighting the faiths of some of the world's best athletes.

Meanwhile, in churches and homes across the country, Chinese Christians continue to pray for their nation as the Games head into the final stretch.

*Original broadcast August 18, 2008.

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