Approaching the Finnish line

Johannes praying with the Ugandan track and field team after a chapel service.

Johannes praying with the Ugandan track and field team after a chapel service.

Although our team is focussing on running bible studies and evening chapels in the religious centre, we spend the majority of our day out and about in the village interacting with athletes in the dining hall, and other places they hang out. In order to embody Matthew 28:19 we have been placing a large emphasis on the active word “go”. For me, the most profound impact from my time in Korea has come from the culmination of my daily interactions with people from so many countries. I have been learning how each culture approaches the topic of faith and it is certainly not what I expected. My German friend and pseudo-AIA staff, Johannes, were eating lunch together and approached two gentlemen wearing the characteristic blue of Finland. Politely, we asked if we could join them and also if they spoke English (being able to communicate is a prerequisite for having great conversations). They nodded yes so we sat with them. I perceived them

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to be fairly reserved but we soon learned that in their home country it isn’t customary to make small talk with strangers. In Finland, unless you are close friends, people rarely even ask “How are you?” After explaining about our role as Athletes in Action staff I made a mental note to dive into something a little more meaningful as soon as I got the chance. I also asked what was there perception was of people from North America. Because faith and religion in the Slavic countries is such private and personal thing, they often view Canadians and Americans as having an inauthentic or phoney faith. They referenced how many athletes often praised God for their performance or raised a hand in the air after making a great shot, but they felt as though it wasn’t real. We continued to make conversation and touched on the recent news of Greece, and Finland’s involvement in the EU. After an hour the Finns (two brothers both competing in Taekwondo) made like they were leaving but shared that the conversation was very satisfying and enjoyable. Before they put their food trays away we told them that for us and the athletes we work with our faith is very personal and meaningful. It forms the foundation for our life and we hoped to convey that it wasn’t something phoney. Although we didn’t share the gospel with them, I learned how to broach the subject of faith and develop a rapport with a different culture. We wouldn’t have had that if we had rushed straight into spiritual things. Stay tuned for more stories! For the team, Cody

We are staying in a former missionary house and the current landlord, Heonki brought in a TV crew to film some of our team experiencing authentic Korean cuisine.

We are staying in a former missionary house and the current landlord, Heonki brought in a TV crew to film some of our team experiencing authentic Korean cuisine.

The Korean Campus Crusade ministry hosted a church service for the athletes and volunteers! We worshipped with 700 others. What an incredible experience!

The Korean Campus Crusade ministry hosted a church service for the athletes and volunteers! We worshipped with 700 others. What an incredible experience!