Standing in Potters Field by London’s Tower Bridge I joined the crowd watching the big screen as Serena Williams danced for joy after demolishing Russia’s Maria Sharapova 6-0 6-1 in the Olympic gold medal final of the women’s tennis.
Serena Williams celebrates her victory
The BBC coverage promptly abandoned Maria and zoomed into the most excited Serena I can ever recall as the significance of her gold medal win began to sink in. Now Serena must have won millions of dollars in her career and yet this gold medal win seemed to mean more than all the money.
Then I thought of Maria, crushed in defeat and completely ignored by the coverage and wondered how she would feel as she stepped up to receive her silver medal.
I remember a young lady from the Canadian rowing team at the LA Olympics as she leaned against a wall staring blankly at the silver medal she had just won in the pairs; shoulders slumped and bottom lip protruding. I took a quick snap and said, with a view to reassuring her, “you don’t look very happy”.
Without looking up as tears rolled down her cheeks, she replied, “we have plenty of silver medals”. If you become world champion it’s a title you hold for a time but if you become an Olympic gold medallist, your title is permanent.
What’s a Gold Medal worth?
Cassius Clay with his gold medal
Following his win in the light heavyweight division at the Rome Olympics of 1960, perhaps the most famous of all sporting personalities, Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) threw his medal into the Ohio River where it remains to this day when he discovered that all his fame and success couldn’t buy him a burger in his own home town of Louisville.
He was told by the storekeeper, “we don’t serve n……s here”. So what’s a gold medal worth?
There are no negatives that can detract from the amazing and inspiring feats of young men and women as they strive to be the best they can. Who could not stand in awe as these incredible athletes reach for the world’s highest sporting reward?
So what price silver and bronze medals? I try to imagine a scene; you’re minding your grandchildren and they’ve been rummaging through the cupboards. The children emerge with a silver medal they have found and ask in astonishment. “Grandma, did you really come second in the Olympic Games”?
The Andre Bryant story
Andre Bryant, pictured here with Jenny Mayne, Jonathan’s husband. He is part of the LWFCI London outreach
Lay Witnesses for Christ is in London to bring the greatest reward of all too those who will listen. The Good News of Jesus Christ. At a meeting at ChristFaith Tabernacle, Woolwich we met Andre (The Giant) Bryant who recently discovered that racial hatred is still alive and well in the USA.
Three men attacked him with baseball bats and almost killed him as he rode his bike home late at night. Andre grew up in a Christian home and whilst having gone to Church, knew nothing about Jesus and nothing about basketball either.
He excelled in all sports through high school and beyond and ultimately worked his way to the Harlem Globetrotters but there was a problem. He was an angry man, especially on court. Andre now says with a smile. “I hit those brothers with all the Christian love I could muster”.
Andre is a close friend of Dr Sam Mings, who is the Founder and Director of Lay Witnesses for Christ International (LWFCI), and Dr Sam assumed a major role in caring for Andre during his long recovery from the vicious, late night attack. As the two men were driving through Dallas, Andre asked Sam to pray for him that he might overcome the anger that so often consumed him.
The pair had stopped at a red light and Dr Sam declared, “There is no time better than the present to pray”. So right there at the red light in downtown Dallas, as these two men prayed, the light turned back and forth from red to green, Andre invited Jesus into his heart and the spirit of anger was released.
Andre has won a prize more than gold and is ready to share his experience to encourage others to turn their hearts to the greatest triumph of all, the knowledge of the Lord who loves you, just the way you are and has an eternal prize for all those who will repent and turn to Him.
Jonathan Mayne from Melbourne Australia is part of the LWFCI team in London as part of the Bridging the Gap 2012 UK Outreach ministry team. He is a former national canoe champion and serves on the respective International Committees for Canoe and Dragon Boat Federations. He is married to Jenny who is pictured here with him