By Laurie Polich

"Eric the Swimmer" was the accidental hero of this yearıs Olympic games. For one short moment in these nationalistic and heavily commercialized Games, the deafening cheer that filled the stadium was not for a winner, but for a young man from Africa named Eric Moussambani who came in dead last.

In his country of Equatorial Guinea, swimming pools are still the privilege of a few-- and Eric had only learned to swim last January, practicing in a 60 foot long hotel swimming pool. It took Moussambani 1 minute, 52 seconds to complete the 100 meters; the record for the distance is 48 seconds. Thrashing through the water, he finally completed his race long after the competition had left the pool. What happened to Moussambani as he struggled from the pool took everyone by surprise. People stood to their feet and cheered. Swimwear companies fell over each other to try to outfit him with their product. His goggles were auctioned off in public. Autograph seekers besieged him.

The next day he was sent back into the pool, fitted with his new skin suit, made famous by Australian swimming idol Ian Thorpe. When asked how it felt, the African reported later that "it made him go faster."

Outside his room in the Olympic village, there was a sign posted in the hallway: "Eric the Swimmer lives here". As a tribute to the Olympic spirit, this unlikely Olympian became an undisputed hero of this yearıs Games.

Some of you have just started out in youth ministry, some of you have been going at it a long time. You may feel like you are too inexperienced, too young, too tired, or too oldŠ but you have a God who is right there pulling for you. He too is fitting you with a new outfit- the clothes not of a swimwear company, but the clothes of Jesus Christ. And when you finish your race- no matter what place you finish- there will be a great company in Heaven, including all the students in your ministry, who will stand to their feet and cheer.
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