Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, has described the announcement as a "life changing event for the city of the Gold Coast." This city, for years, was overshadowed by Brisbane as the powerhouse of the state. It now will shine in its own right, and help redefine its image, known mainly for its surf and tourist strip.
The games are forecast to boost the economy by $2 billion and create 30 000 jobs. The railway is expected to be completed from Varsity Lakes to the Coolangatta (Gold Coast) airport. The games also will see a $500 million injection for sporting infrastructure. Other areas impacted include an expansion of the local sporting programs, hospitals and health services in the region. The result? Gold Coast is ready to shine.
With the world's eyes on the Gold Coast and boosts to the economic and social fabric of the city, what role can the Church play? Well-Being Australia Theologian reminds us that the Church is Christ's people, the Saints. They follow Jesus' teaching, interaction with each other, worship, prayer and reaching out to others (Acts 2:42-47). As a result, the Church has an amazing opportunity to care and share during and after the games. The Games can be a vehicle for the Church to reach its community in new and exciting ways.
Previous Olympic and Commonwealth Games have seen the Church mobilize and unite to provide practical care to visitors (e.g. accommodation, water stations etc) as well as sharing (e.g. handing out Bibles, running sporting clinics or community events). Cities that have hosted the games have reported a stronger unity within the Church community, many people coming to faith and a new acceptance from the community.
It is the Church's opportunity to shine.