God calls couple out of retirement to Olympics

Baptist Press

8/14/2012 5:52:19 PM - Baptist Press

LONDON (BP) -- Bill and Lucy Pat Curl have been married for more than 50 years and had retired from international missions, but that didn't stop them from pursuing their own unique calling to the Summer Games.

They could be found among the crowds of spectators and young, energetic athletes, recruiting and undergirding more than 300 Southern Baptist volunteers.

The couple is working at the headquarters of "More Than Gold," a ministry designed to connect churches and volunteers with Olympic ministry opportunities, and is representing both the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board.

"We're helping connect them to London's host churches and evangelical groups who are working hard to serve and share Christ with the athletes, families and fans here for the Olympics," Bill Curl said.

The Orlando, Fla., couple has a long history of ministry. After lengthy pastorates in Kentucky and Florida, they answered God's call to missions and moved to Wales to embark on an 18-year journey of service with IMB.

"We both made commitments of willingness to God that we would go anywhere He might lead us," he recalls. "We just never thought He would lead us to the Olympics."

The Curls were serving in the United Kingdom when the announcement was made that London would host the 2012 Summer Games.

"It was exciting to be there in the midst of the awarding of the Games to London," he said. "We followed all the preparations and spent a long time prayerwalking the grounds. In time, God gave us a growing passion and hope for a strong Christian presence in the midst of the Games."

Meanwhile, the couple returned to the U.S. in 2008 and settled into "retirement" from international missions. Back home, they are still active in ministry at First Baptist Church Orlando, where he serves as pastoral care pastor.

"Our passion for a vibrant Christian presence at the Games continued after our return home, but we really didn't see ourselves involved more than in prayer support," he said. "We just didn't have a strong desire to be in London during the Olympic invasion."

But God had other plans.

In early 2012, the Curls read a prayer request from IMB requesting prayer for those ministering at the upcoming Games. This time, their hearts were stirred to action. They contacted "More Than Gold" and committed to serve for one month leading up to and during the Games as IMB representatives.

By February, the Curls were also in contact with Al Gilbert, executive director of the North American Mission Board's LoveLoud initiative, who also invited them to London.

"We're sort of wearing the NAMB shirt and the IMB hat," Bill Curl said. "But it's a comfortable identity for us, to represent both organizations. We've had a long-standing love and appreciation for both SBC entities."

In late July, the Curls took the familiar flight from Orlando back to London, stepping out of "retirement" and back into service for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Curls recognize that in taking their ministry back to London for the games, they are not just working to reach the city with the Gospel. At the Games, they can reach the world.

"The world has come to London for the Olympics -- every tongue, every nation is represented here. It is such a unique opportunity to express God's love and minister to the needs of the world, and we're so glad God led us back here to serve in this time to make His name famous at the Games," he said.

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Sara Shelton writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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