February 2, 2022

Olympics of Faith Seeks to Engage Children and Adolescents

Inter-American Division initiative includes Bible study, witnessing, and social activities.

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

Thousands of children across the Inter-American Division (IAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church are enrolled in the newest discipleship and evangelistic initiative that will lead them in numerous activities and projects during the next 10 months.

Coined as “The Olympics of Faith — I Will Go,” the initiative will engage children ages 1 to 14 in activities that will enrich their spiritual, physical, and emotional lives. It will include a series of Bible studies and prayer sessions and physical and health learning activities at home, in their churches, and in their communities.

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Part of an animated video featuring a Bible game that corresponds with the study of the book of Matthew in the Olympics of Faith weekly program this month. The animated feature was created by the El Salvador Union Mission. [Photo: screengrab from an El Salvador Union Mission video]

“There’s a lot of excitement throughout the territory as the Olympics of Faith has begun throughout all of our unions in Inter-America,” IAD children and adolescents ministries director Edith Espinoza said. “This is all about keeping our children involved in a program that not only will have an impact on their spiritual and physical lives but will deal with many of the issues that children face today.”

The initiative is paired with IAD’s I Will Go mission initiative this quinquennium. It will aid children in participating in family activities, reaching other peers in their neighborhood, and getting involved in service activities in their communities.

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Logo of the Olympics of Faith initiative in which children and adolescents are taking part throughout the Inter-American Division this year. [Image: Inter-American Division Children and Adolescents Ministries]

The initiative will include passing a torch virtually from union territory to union territory each month, earning points, and tracking accomplishments on personalized cards to reach gold, silver, or bronze medal status at the end of an Olympic-themed journey. It will see children studying the life of Bible characters, memorizing Scripture, praying for others, and learning about eating and keeping healthy habits. It will also include witnessing for Jesus, discovering new skills, and taking part in preparing and holding an evangelistic campaign in their local church at the end of September.

The Olympics of Faith initiative is expected to draw more than 500,000 children throughout the IAD to complete their journey in October. Evangelistic campaigns led by children and adolescents will be an important element in the 10-month Olympic journey, Espinoza said.

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A group of children and their leader in eastern Venezuela show their Olympics of Faith registration cards. More than 30,000 children and adolescents in Venezuela are signed up to participate in the initiative. [Photo: courtesy of East Venezuela Union Mission]

Union and local children and adolescents ministries directors are working with thousands of children to train them to witness to others. The goal is for each of the 24 unions in the IAD territory to reach at least 100 newly baptized youngsters during special evangelistic campaigns to be held in September in commemoration of IAD’s centennial celebration this year.

In Venezuela, more than 30,000 children have already enrolled in the Olympics of Faith initiative, Espinoza said. “This is such a big step for them amid their difficult challenges,” she said. “Our leaders are working arduously to lead many children in this special initiative.”

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Children at the Las Lomas Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tabasco, Mexico, pose for a group photo with their children-and-adolescents ministries leader and their new friends from the community. Three children of the small church invited five other friends from their neighborhood to be part of the Olympics of Faith in their congregation. [Photo: Yuri Salazar]

In El Salvador, children and adolescents ministries leaders have created animated videos that go along with each themed weekly activity.

Leaders in the Inter-Oceanic Mexican Union have produced a booklet with puzzles, diagrams, and multiple activities to enrich each weekly program.

According to Espinoza, other unions have adopted the initiative to fit their specific local fields and churches for this year.

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A children’s small group at the Las Carpas Seventh-day Adventist Church in Guasdalito, Apure, Venezuela, presents posters on the Olympics of Faith initiative to their peers during a special meeting in January 26, 2022. More than 7,000 children and adolescents have signed up for the initiative in the West Venezuela Union Mission region. [Photo: Karina Castillo Palacios]

Las Lomas Seventh-day Adventist Church, one of the smallest churches in the East Tabasco Mission in the Southeast Mexican Union Mission, has only three children and one children-and-adolescents ministries leader. But those three children have brought in five children from the community to participate in the Olympics of Faith, Espinoza said.

It’s all about involving children as part of retaining them with attractive programs that can engage them in the life of the church, Espinoza said. “Children in our local churches can be the most effective missionary contact for other children. They are key evangelistic witnesses not only to peers but to parents too.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.