The Summer Olympics (July 23-August 8) provide a great opportunity to foster a healthy competitive spirit in our children as they cheer for their favorite athletes and keep track of their country’s medals. But let’s think bigger.
We can leverage our children’s interest in the Olympic games to expand their view of God’s world. Let’s watch the athletes and countries that come together in Tokyo with a heart to see what God is doing in those countries, knowing that He loves each person and nation.
As you watch different events, grab a globe or a world map and help your kids locate the countries of the competitors. Here are some questions you could discuss as a family:
- What country are the athletes from? Where is that on a map?
- What are the typical foods in that region?
- What do people from this country usually wear?
- What languages are spoken there?
- Do people in this country know Jesus? How many?
- How might we pray for God to be known in this country?
Use an encyclopedia or Operation World book to see how many answers you can find with your kids. Go to joshuaproject.net to learn about each country’s current spiritual needs. Let’s use the Olympics host country as an example. Japan is a relatively small country in East Asia with an incredibly large population of 126 million. It sits east of China and the Koreas as a chain of islands guarding the continent of Asia from the great Pacific Ocean.
The Japanese excel in judo, wrestling, and gymnastics. Popular foods include sushi and other fish dishes. Your family could make or order some to eat while you watch the Opening Ceremonies on July 23. Don’t forget to break out the chopsticks.
Missionaries have served in Japan since the 1500s, but only 2.2% of the people are Christians (joshuaproject.net). The Japanese language has no word for “sin,” so sinfulness and separation from a Holy God are not familiar cultural concepts. Without recognizing their own sinfulness, how will Japanese people realize their need for a Savior? Your family could pray for God to open the Japanese people’s eyes to their need for a Savior and the good news of the gospel. There is only one missionary per every 56,000 Japanese (japanmission.org). As a family, pray for more missionaries to go to Japan and for culturally relevant opportunities to speak about Jesus there.
If you would like activities, crafts, recipes, or daily devotionals to do with your family during the Summer Olympics, go to mobilizermom.com As you engage with your kids during the Olympics, remember our goal as parents is not just to give them a bigger picture of God’s world, but to challenge them to play a part in it, to join Jesus’ ‘team’ and see people from “every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne” on that last day (Revelations 7:9).
Your kids can be part of something much bigger than themselves and much bigger than the Olympics: they can be a part of what God is doing to bring the nations to Himself. That is a race worth joining; that is a prize worth training for!
About the Author: Alicia Bennett is fueled by a passion to see God’s name made known to all the nations. Alicia is a teacher, mobilizer and mom empowering the youngest generation to take up the mantle of faith and run the race well. She has written and taught dozens of children’s mission lessons to illuminate what the Bible says about God’s heart for all tribes, tongues, and nations. Connect with Alicia on her website, mobilizermom.com