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Friday, August 08, 2008

A prophetic witness of Olympian proportions

Photo: The Sydney Morning Herald

Jarrod McKenna, our energetic peace-loving peace-making Aussie, has written over here of a great Olympic story. It is the story of a prophetic and public moment in the lives of three Christian men. Two of these men were black Americans. The third, a white Australian. The white Australian was Peter Norman.

What Jarrod didn't mention was that when Peter died in 2006, the solidarity of the three men that was so publicly and irrevocably evident at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 was evident once again. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were here in Melbourne for Peter's funeral and they helped to carry his coffin.

Dear Reader, you have no idea how much this meant to us in Australia. That such athletic comrades from almost forty years ago should do such honour by coming half-way around the world will not be easily forgotten by Aussies.

To-night, I will watch the opening ceremony of the historic Beijing Olympics. I am a great admirer - in spite of things that get in the road sometimes - of the Chinese, their history, their culture and above all the Tao Te Ching. I am conscious of Australian's long involvement with the Chinese people. But if, like our Prime Minister, I could be a forthright friend: there are issues of justice in China and some of its relationships which can be difficult to overlook. Some people, perhaps, at these Olympics will feel strongly enough to make a public - and possibly prophetic - stand.

I pray that if this is the case that such people will remember the time forty years ago when three men decided to make their stand: representing two very different cultures these men really stood for something. The speedy and gentle Australian did not raise a fist. He wore a badge and, with Christ in his heart and his motivation, stood beside his black brothers. After all, Jesus said, where two or three are gathered in my name: there I am in the midst of them.

When you can do nothing else: bear witness.