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06 August 2012

Games Pastors serve visitors to London during the Games

Games Pastors serve visitors to London during the Games

Helping visitors find the right coins to access the public lavatories or consoling a man who had recently lost his wife and child are all in a day's work the 300-strong team of Games Pastors.

They are a group of pastors who have come under the direction of More Than Gold, an agency set up to help churches make the most of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

That means for the first time at any Olympic Games, thousands of visitors now have an extra level of care and support.

For Bryan Pittman, it is his fifth time as a pastor at an Olympic Games but his first as an official Games Pastor that is modelled on the popular Street Pastors initiative.

Mr Pittman, of South Carolina, told 2K Plus: "We're here to help and give support wherever we can but also to challenge people's perceptions by showing that the Church isn't something that always takes place indoors but can be out there working alongside the people."

Around 300 Games Pastors in their striking powder-blue baseball caps and jackets are readily identifiable at many major Olympic transport hubs.

At London Bridge station, Games Pastors met a man struggling to deal with the death of his wife and child following a car crash. He had been driving the car and was blaming himself for their deaths. The volunteers talked to him, took him for a cup of tea and he asked them to pray for him.

Another Games Pastors team helped a Korean student who had caught the wrong train, re-directed a lady who was lost, and gave comfort to a man who had been out of work for a number of years and didn't see any point to his life.

Sometimes the need has proved to be exceptional, as when members of the Madagascar team landed at Luton airport with no one official to greet them. With their bags still in Paris, arrangements were also made to provide them with clothes and essentials.

The reaction has been so positive that the Games Pastors programme is set to become the blueprint for major future sporting events, including the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and Rio 2016.

Words and photo by Lizzy Millar, 2K Plus International Sports Media

For more articles and stories on the Olympics please go to our special Olympics webpage