South Korea (MNN) — The 23rd Olympic Winter Games have officially begun in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Opening Ceremonies took place Friday morning at 6 am ET and the games have been going since Wednesday. No matter who you are rooting for, it’s amazing to watch athletes from the around the world compete in sporting events after years and years of intense training.
Ron Hutchcraft with Ron Hutchcraft Ministries says the Winter Olympics remind him of Colleen O’Connor, an Olympic athlete he knew before she was a champion.
“It goes back actually to a Campus Life club I ran many years ago in Chicago. A young lady named Colleen would come and every morning at 5 a.m. when everybody else was still in bed, she was at the local ice skating rink — skating, skating, skating.
“Summer came and all of her classmates finally had time off to do whatever they wanted to do. Well, guess what? She was out in Colorado skating, skating, skating. There was even a tornado that hit that skating rink back near her home in the suburbs of Chicago one time and she was injured. She fought back from that injury so she could be back there skating and skating and skating. Oftentimes there was nobody there except the guy who opened up and no one even knew she showed up, but she would be there every morning.”
O’Connor eventually competed in figure skating at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. At the time, Hutchcraft was with his wife, Karen, teaching at a school in Holland on youth ministry.
“The Winter Olympics happened to be on the television in the little bungalow where they had me staying…. I didn’t understand a lot of it because the commentary was in Dutch, except all of a sudden they announced the name of the person who was competing from the USA — and it was Colleen!”
That year, O’Connor went on to earn a bronze medal in the Olympic ice dancing mixed event with her partner, Jim Millns.
However, Hutchcraft reflects, “I knew her before anybody had ever heard of her, and I know how she got there. Now here she was the whole world knowing about her and she had been a champion. But I know how she got to be a champion. It was a thousand invisible mornings when no one ever saw her. But those invisible mornings are what made a champion.
“I thought about that again today. Isn’t that true of someone who Jesus can really use to be a champion for him? A thousand invisible mornings with him is the secret of spiritual championship. It’s not what you see at the pinnacle. It’s not what you see on the platform. It’s what you see when they’re all developed into what God has raised them up to be.”
When it comes to missions, Christians want to do great things for God. However, being a spiritual champion does not mean having charisma or being up in front. Being a spiritual champion means being effective in the hands of God for the advance of his Kingdom and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
To get there, Hutchcraft says, “It comes from having a non-negotiable daily time in the presence of Jesus himself where through his words you become a little more like him every day. In those times, no one knows if you do it except you and Jesus…. But even if nobody sees it, you’re still there. You are going to be with Jesus and out of that comes somebody who is a spiritual gold medalist, because you spent a thousand invisible mornings with him. That’s the secret of a spiritual champion.”
For Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, their outreach is all about getting people to start and deepen their relationships with Jesus. “We have a multi-faceted program driven by a relentless passion to put the Gospel where people can reach it, where they can understand it, where it’s on a platform that they go to,” says Hutchcraft.
Their passion for evangelistic ministry reflects the tenor of Hebrews 12:1-2:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hutchcraft emphasizes, “It’s very easy to make the mistake of doing and not being with Jesus. The challenge for all of us in missions and Christian leadership and the work of the Church is to make sure that the highest priority is to be with Jesus.”
If you would like to learn more about taking your relationship with Jesus and sharing it with others, Ron Hutchcraft Ministries has several resources to help you! Click here to learn more at the ministry’s website.
“As we watch people competing in the Olympics this year, let it be a challenge to our own hearts of how you get to be someone who can represent not your country, but your Savior…and that’s by spending the time in all those invisible mornings to train with him.”