Dr. David Crandall met with Pastor Steven Richards concerning a cooperative effort between the AiG Worldwide Olympic ministry and the Grace2London local ministry. The Pastor is the founder and President of Grace2London (G2L). He and many evangelicals in London have banded together to present the gospel at the London Olympic 2012 Games.
We found that we were very compatible in doctrinal matters and in the AiG position on creation and age of the earth. In fact, he personally supports AiG UK—our European office in Great Britain
Inspire magazine has done an article on the Pastor and has given AiG copyright permission to reproduce the article. I think you will find the passion of the Pastor and his zeal for Olympic ministry to be both refreshing and challenging.
I would recommend that you visit the website of Grace2London.
*First published in Inspire magazine, the UK’s largest-circulation monthly Christian title, reaching 200,000 readers via churches. Find out more at www.inspiremagazine.org.uk.
Olympic OpportunityWith 18 months to go before the planet's biggest sporting event hits the UK, one London pastor explains why he’s thrilled that the 2012 Olympics will be on his doorstep. GEORGE LUKE reports
STEVEN Richards is pastor of Homerton Baptist Church in Hackney, right in the heart of where the Olympic village is being built. He's a volunteer Olympic site guide and also spearheads Grace2London – an initiative aimed at mobilizing local churches to work together in ministry, using the Olympics as a focal point.
The thing that strikes you most about Steven when you talk to him is his passion for the area in which he lives. He's a sports fan and is looking forward to the games as much as any sports fan, but Steve's passion goes much further.
He's thankful for the regeneration the games have brought to a rather deprived part of London. He's thankful for the unity that is being shown by the handful of local churches that have come together under the Grace2London banner.
He's happy too for the opportunity the Olympics will offer himself and others to show hospitality to the many foreign visitors who will be coming to London for the games. Above all, he's extremely passionate about God's hand being in all of this. But how did he get involved?
“The Olympic Delivery Authority asked local people – including me – whether we would like to be guides, so I said yes,” says Steven. “Personally, I've always been behind the Olympics.”
“As a church, we've been in favor of the games, for various reasons. For a start, the East End has tended to be a bit neglected – forgotten, in a way. We've always felt that the Olympics coming here would bring some regeneration and put the area on the map – and that does seem to be happening.”
“As a guide, taking people round the park gives me an opportunity to see how the area's developing. And the people that I take around can see that this is something worth having.”
Grace2London was formed to bring together like-minded churches and Christian organizations to explore all proper means of presenting the Gospel message – not just at the Olympics but also during the period leading up to the games, and after the games are over.
Steven's church is one of a number of Grace Baptist churches in the area. Starting from within that body of churches, Steven contacted local churches and Christian organizations, asking if they would work alongside his – or if not, for them to let him know what they were doing, to avoid duplicating things.
“So far, we've had a good response,” he says. “We obviously realized that we couldn't cope with this on our own – although we'd have gone ahead anyway, even if other churches hadn't come on board. As for what we'll be doing – in one sense, everything!”
“What we've been saying to everyone we've shared the Grace2London vision with is that we've got to take every opportunity to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ known.”
One key thing Grace2London have planned is what they are currently calling a 'body exhibition'. “The name might change by the time it's ready,” says Steven, “but basically it's an exhibition that will point people to God as Creator. “He's the one who's created our bodies, and the reason human bodies can do such incredible things – as they will be at the Olympics – is because of the glorious design that God has given. So we want to have a static exhibition somewhere in the Stratford area. We've been working with people like the Biblical Creation Society and Answers in Genesis to get that off the ground.”
There's still a lot of preparatory work for Grace2London to get on with before the Olympics. How can the rest of us support Steven and his team in their work?
“It always sounds a bit trite when you say to someone – or someone says to you, 'All I can do is pray.' But in a sense, that's all I want! Prayer is something that any believer can do. We go all around doing presentations on Grace2London, and that is our emphasis; we must pray. We could have the best programs in the world in place, but without God in it, it's totally wasted. And that's where prayer comes in.”