With the London Olympics just six months away Olympic Ministry Award Receiptent Mark Tronson, the chairman of Well-Being Australia is writing a weekly series of articles leading up to this world gala event which encapsulates the nations of the world in sport, politics, economics, culture, benevolency and religion.
The old adage is that you hit what you aim for, and there is a valid concern today in Australia, that much of the Christian ministry is so focused on 'service' and 'benevolent' programs, that Australian Christians have in good measure lost their passion for evangelism. Dr Sam Mings has a very different story says Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson.
A rich history in evangelism
Dr Sam Mings innovative ministry had its roots in 1976 in his backyard in Fort Worth, Texas when, supported by his wife Sharon and three young children, he discovered his gift when reaching the local neighourhood youth, where two hundred made decisions to become followers of Jesus.
Sam Mings was invited to speak at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting at the University of Tennessee in 1980. In two days one hundred people prayed to receive Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives. Willie Gault was one of these athletes and it was he who urged Sam Mings to attend the 1981 NCAA Track and Field Championships in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
"In those four days there came a revival for Christ with track athletes," Sam Mings explained. Challenge magazine reported: '.. an unknown evangelist showed up, 78 All-American athletes prayed to receive Christ.' "Together we sought to make a difference for the Lord through the visibility God had entrusted to them in their particular sport," Sam Mings went on.
In this large group was a young Carl Lewis and later that same year they held their first 'Three Hours with the Stars' evening in Houston, Texas, were many more made decisions to follow Jesus Christ. Another was held at the University of Tennessee, and one thousand people received Christ.
At the 1984 USA Olympic trials, 74 world class athletes made decisions to follow Christ. Several magazines reported that the Lay Witnesses for Christ ministry was responsible for leading fifty percent of the USA Olympic Track and Field team to Christ.
Initiated the Evening with the Olympians
At the 1984 Los Angels Olympics, journalists clamoured to attend the 'Three Hours with the Stars' at the First Van Nuys Baptist Church seeking interviews with the nine athletes who had won nineteen Gold medals between them. The message for Christ presented by the athletes and Dr Sam Mings was bold and unprecedented.
Four years later, 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea, the most widely viewed television broadcast of Christian Olympic athletes saw the 'Evening with the Stars' at the Yoido Full Gospel Church with media experts saying 200 million watched the telecast.
"Television crews from every continent covered this unparalleled event where Christian athletes from China, Equatorial Guinea, Brazil, Indonesia, the Netherlands and North America gave testimonies, translated into nine different languages," Sam Mings explained.
Other highlights of this faith-finance-funded mission have included the 42nd 'Evening with the Stars' held in Paris, France where 20,000 people attended; 40 overseas missions; over 5,000 programs on the Right Track Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention, and hundreds of volunteers to see it all happen.
This team led by Sam and Sharon Mings have personally witnessed 20,000 athletes from across the world prayed to receive Christ into their lives. In recent years they have travelled to Japan, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Ghana, France, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Greece and most recently Beijing China.
Moreover they will again be in London with great expectations.
Sam Mings said, "We are two ordinary people from Fort Worth, Texas that has taken Zechariah 4: 6 seriously, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, Say the Lord of hosts."
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html