Eternal Medals—Rio 2016
Published: October 4, 2016

BMM missionaries across Brazil planned special evangelistic activities in conjunction with the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Our team in Rio de Janeiro (Nathan and Dawn Patefield, Joy Hunt, and Robert and Jane Kilko) had the extra privilege of sharing the gospel with thousands of Brazilians and international visitors who came for the Games.

By Nathan and Dawn Patefield

Under God’s protection

We praise the Lord for His protection, guidance, and answers to prayer for the Eternal Medals evangelistic project during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We were concerned about possible terrorist activity, and God protected us from that evil. We were concerned about the dramatic rise in crime before the Games, and the Lord kept the crime rate down during those three weeks.

For months, we have been folding tracts—sometimes at home alone, sometimes at church tract-folding parties. For months, we have been studying personal evangelism in Sunday School, praying for the Lord to open up doors and asking Him to make us better fishers of men. He responded in unexpected ways.

Stepping beyond their comfort zones

God enabled almost all of our church members to step outside of their comfort zones in an effort to reach others. For some, handing out tracts was a frightening task they had never done before. But with the Lord’s courage, they stepped out and did it. Dagoberto, 83 years old, went out almost every day to distribute literature and speak with people all over the city. Several times a week, he stopped by our house to pick up more tracts (hundreds of them) because his supply was already gone! What an example and challenge to the rest of us!

Several others had opportunities to sit down and present the gospel to neighbors or colleagues. Dawn has tried on many occasions to witness to her hairdresser, Leandro. This time, when she explained that the message she was giving him was the most important in the world, he was more open. One day a neighbor lady stopped by to ask our colleague, Joy, how much she charges to do Bible studies. Of course, Joy told her that she doesn´t charge anything. Through a crisis situation in the life of a young man who has been occasionally attending our church, God gave us the chance to begin yet another evangelistic Bible study.

Finding creative opportunities

Though we had planned to distribute literature in several places, after we saw the crowds at Parque Madureira (a large public park) we focused our attention on that location. On our first day out, we strolled through the park handing out literature, and folks were very receptive. Then members of our group were confronted by guards who told us we were breaking the park rules. We went to the administration, where we were treated politely but informed that the park has a no-distribution policy. However, they told us we could feel free to distribute literature just outside park entrances. So that is what we did. Since public safety was one of our prayers, we made a special effort to talk with policemen and guards, thanking them for their work, offering them a tract, and telling them we were praying for them.

The Lord also gave us the opportunity to host Diogo, a pastor from São Paulo who had come to work as a volunteer at the Games. He came with the desire to display and share the love of Christ and had the privilege of doing so inside the Athlete’s Village. He also connected with the Protestant chaplain and was involved in the daily Protestant chapel services for the athletes and support personnel.

Waiting for the seed to sprout and grow

Though we are unaware of any salvation decisions to date, we are grateful to the Lord for seed that was sown, for doors that are open into the lives of others, and for obedience of church members in stepping out to share the gospel.

To date, the website we created for follow-up has received visits from contacts in Brazil, the United States, and Australia. We have not yet had anyone write asking for more information, but from past evangelistic projects [including the 2007 Pan American Games], we have learned that those kinds of requests can come months later.

We thank the Lord for this unique opportunity to share the gospel and for the amount of gospel seed that was sown. Now we wait to see how the Lord will cause it to sprout and grow!