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August 9, 2012 / nickpark

Prayer, Pentecostals & Olympic Boxing

For the Irish, Olympic gold medals are as rare as hens’ teeth.  In our nation’s entire history we’ve only ever won 9 gold medals (and 3 of them were ‘earned’ by a swimmer in Atlanta 96 who was subsequently exposed as a drugs cheat.  Heck, even one of our horses was stripped of an equestrian gold medal in Athens 04 for taking drugs!

For years, in Ireland, Pentecostal Christians seemed to be as rare as Olympic medallists.  Frequently derided as a cult, they were often relegated to the margins of society.  It was not unusual for Pentecostals to be mocked for following an American religion, and therefore, not being Catholics, they weren’t truly Irish.

All of which makes Katie Taylor a breath of fresh air.  Katie is a 4-times world boxing champion who, this afternoon, will be fighting for Ireland’s first Olympic gold medal for 20 years.  The level of national support is overwhelming, with the country expected to grind to a halt to watch her bout.  For the semi-final, 10,000 Irish supporters crammed the boxing arena in London, and in the process created a roar that was measured at 113 decibels,  exceeding the noise of a  Jumbo Jet’s take off.

Katie, a committed worshipper at St Mark’s Family Worship Centre (Assemblies of God) in Dublin, is a humble young woman who has so far proved a wonderful ambassador for her country and her faith.  Some boxing pundits have hailed her as the best pound-for-pound boxer (male or female) in the world today.  At the end of her semi-final bout she pointed heavenwards thanking God for the gifts he has given her.

(My American friends are used to so many of their sporting heroes acknowledging Christ, but understand that for Pentecostals in Ireland this is something very new and exciting for us).

Which makes me think about how I should pray for Katie today.  I would love her to win that gold medal, but something within me stops me praying for God to ‘fix’ a boxing match.  The whole thing that makes sport special is the unpredictability of it.  You watch a match and you know both participants have the same opp[ortunities to win.  If God was to ‘fix’ the result, then what would be the point?  It would no longer be sport – it would just be vulgar theatre like WWF wrestling.

So this afternoon I will be glued to the TV cheering Katie on.  I will be fervently hoping she wins that gold medal, and I’ll probably shed a tear or so if she does.  But I won’t be praying for her to win.  I’ll be praying that neither she nor her Russian opponent suffer any significant physical harm, and I’ll be praying that, whether she wins or loses, Katie will keep being such a wonderful ambassador for the Gospel.

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2 Comments

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  1. Elaine Marrett / Aug 9 2012 2:27 pm

    Amen pastor Nick
    I pray Gods extraordinary favour on her today n always – for Gods grace to empower her n give her the ability to go beyond her own ability . I thank God that she already has the victory .

    • seamus malonewy / Nov 8 2013 10:21 pm

      it is also my words that my team, or my son who boxes and brought home a world championship title to me 2005, an answer to a prayer, in this we remember ,we may cycle different bicycles, we may drive different cars, yet we have the same destination, the same father, the same lord jesus, we are not all of the one flock, yet destination heaven and to that special room prepared for us, may we see our katies success through the times she boxes by way of her sbility, may her true understanding of the lord bring her best ability to his will, that is. availability, please if you read this ,pray for myself also ,seamus, my son phil the thrill ,st francis boxing club limk, and our family, thank you lord for this girl who has shown such joy in this sport, amen i pray ,as in nos 6,22 ,amen seamus maloney,

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