August 28, 2014


SOCHI, Russia (BP) -- Will Baptists have a witness at the Winter Olympics in Russia? Will it be safe from terrorists? Will other issues arise?

Marc Ira Hooks,
one of International Mission Board's main strategists for the Sochi Olympics who was involved in outreach at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, spoke to such questions in an interview about this winter's Feb. 7-23 games.

Hooks is the creator/co-director of Engage Sochi, the IMB's initiative focusing both on church planting in the Winter Olympics host city and on outreach to Olympic competitors and guests from throughout the world. Earl Gillespie* is the other co-director of the project for the Feb. 7-23 Olympics in addition to serving as the Sochi city strategist.

Q: Where did you get the idea for Engage Sochi?

Hooks: For whatever reason, maybe it was the time difference, it was late at night, we [Marc and his wife Kellye] were sitting on the bed and I just remember the guy pulling out the envelope and saying, "The next Olympics will be in Sochi, Russia." I remember looking at Kellye and saying, I don't know how, why or whatever, but we're going to be involved in that."

Q: What did you learn from the Vancouver Olympics that applies to Sochi?

Hooks: As we came away from Vancouver, we started saying, we as the IMB, our concentration, our focus is on church planting. And while mass seed sowing is good and should be done, there's more to reaching people with the Gospel than just giving them the Gospel and walking away. So, we wanted to create something that as people came into contact with the Gospel, that they were touched for a long period of time.

Q: What is Engage Sochi?

Hooks: We want something that is a multi-tiered approach and ... not just [during] the fortnight of Olympic competition in Sochi. We're talking about reaching the people of Sochi before, during and after the games.

Q: What are the plans for following up with people who respond to the Gospel?

Hooks: We want everybody that we come in to contact with to have the opportunity to continue the conversations that were started in Sochi. So, regardless of where that person is from, we want to connect them with a believer in their area who can make a relationship with that person and continue to speak with them about issues of faith.

Q: What has gone on in Sochi in preparation for those coming? Read More

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WASHINGTON (BP) -- Sen. Tom Coburn
of Oklahoma, one of the chamber's most outspoken conservatives, has announced he will retire at the end of the 113th Congress -- two years short of the end of his second term.
Rep. James Lankford,
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