Steve McConkey of Four Winds Christian Athletics International Track and Field Ministry sent out this statement regarding Franklin Graham’s opposition to evangelism during the Olympics. A Slice salute today to Mr. McConkey for what he is doing.
(MADISON, WISCONSIN) Billy Graham’s son, Franklin recently stated that Christians should not evangelize during the Olympic Games as it is against the law. He recently talked to reporters in China while visiting communist officials. The Chinese government has stated that evangelism will not be tolerated during the Olympics.
The underground church thinks differently. “It is a matter of who heads the church and it is certainly not the government,” says Bob Fu, China Aid president in an interview with OneNewsNow. He believes the underground church welcomes evangelistic efforts.
4 Winds believes Christians should witness during the Olympics. Since the summer of 2006, 4 Winds has collected testimonies of potential Olympic athletes and has allowed outside groups to take them into the underground church, estimated to be over 100 million people.
Track and field athletes who have won six gold and four silver medals have had their testimonies put in the underground church. The athletes are not active in distributing them. More testimonies are being collected.
4 Winds president Steve McConkey states, “Underground church leaders asked to use the testimonies of the athletes. We hope that the Lord would use them.”
Athletes are not paid for their testimonies and the testimonies are not sold for publication. 4 Winds is located in Madison, Wisconsin and is an international evangelistic and teaching ministry involved in track and field.
Steve and his wife Liz have been in track and field ministries since 1981. They have ministered at the Olympics, the Olympic Trials, and the USA Championships. Steve was a former USA National Track and Field Club Coach from 1982 through 1992.
On evangelism during the Olympics, Steve believes “Christians should use caution and do as God leads.” 4 Winds is encouraging athletes not to change their routine during their preparation for the Olympic Trials that will be held from June 27 through July 6 in Eugene, Oregon.
The Trials will be held at Hayward Field, site of the 1972, 1976 and 1980 Olympic Trials. The largest national championship track meet in the world, the U.S. Olympic Trials hosts more than 1,000 athletes. More than 350,000 fans attended the last two Olympic Trials in Sacramento.
After athletes make the Olympic team, 4 Winds is encouraging athletes to concentrate on their performances at the Olympics. After their performances, win or lose, athletes are encouraged to share their faith through the media as they normally do every year.
“Athletes should not change who they are,” states McConkey. “These men and women love Christ and are not mean-spirited. We are asking Christians throughout the world to pray for all Christians who will go into China.”
4 Winds recently had an anti-boycott statement distributed throughout the United States. A boycott of the Olympics is not the answer as that would only hurt athletes. Also, “Jesus and the apostles went into challenging countries and did not boycott them.”