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Olympic torch relay — a way to pray for Sochi
Friday, Nov 22, 2013
By Staff    


SOCHI, Russia (BP)--In ancient Greece, fire was considered a gift from the gods and commonly found burning in large cauldrons surrounding Greek temples.

In that spirit, the modern Olympic Games have used fire as a symbol to represent Olympic ideals — peace, sportsmanship, harmony, to name a few. Prior to the start of each Olympic Games, an official Olympic flame is lit using the sun’s rays in the ancient Greek town of Olympia. That flame is transported to the host city by a series of torchbearers who light the Olympic cauldron that remains lit for the duration of the games and is extinguished after the closing ceremony.

The modern Olympic torch relay began in Berlin, Germany, as part of the 1936 Summer Olympic Games.
However, the first torch relay for the Winter Olympics did not take place until 1952 when 94 skiers carried the ceremonial flame 225 kilometers before reaching the Olympic Stadium in Oslo, Norway.

“Like the messengers who proclaimed the sacred Olympic truce, the runners who carry the Olympic flame carry a message of peace on their journey,” the International Olympic Committee says.

“But true peace can only come as people follow Jesus,” said Marc Ira Hooks, Olympic event coordinator for Engage Sochi. “We want to also spread peace and hope among the nations, and the most important thing that people can do is pray.”

Engage Sochi organizers are using the Olympic relay as an opportunity to lead Christians from around the globe in prayer for Russia, Sochi and the games.

Hooks said Christians can use prayer to spread the message of the gospel at the same time the torch is carried from city to city throughout Russia.
The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, will be the longest torch relay in history. It will cover more than 56,000 kilometers and will be carried by 14,000 different people over the course of 123 days.

Using Twitter and Facebook, organizers are daily posting prayer updates during the 123-day torch relay.
“Not everybody can be at the games in Russia,” Hooks said. “However, everybody can follow the torch relay, pray and share their prayer requests with others using social media.”

Organizers are encouraging others to post their own prayer requests as well. The official social media hashtag during the torch relay and the 2014 Sochi Games is #pray4sochi.

Hooks said followers can use this hashtag to keep up with the daily posts from Engage Sochi as well as others who post prayers with this tag.
Engage Sochi is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/engage_sochi and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/engage.sochi.1.

The Sochi Olympic torch relay began in Olympia, Greece, on Oct. 7 and will continue until Feb. 7 when it will reach the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremonies.
--30--
Reported by International Mission Board staff in Europe.

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