More than Gold - Fiona McDonald with gold-medal winning Mohd Hafifi Mansor

At first I only saw the ribbon coming out of his bag and wondered what it was that he wanted to show me. As he smiled and opened his hand my brain was struggling to compute what I saw. “Is that gold?” “Yes, yes … gold,” said my new Malaysian weightlifting friend. Oh my word … a Commonwealth gold medal glinting in the sun in the middle of Buchanan Street!

In true Glaswegian style a crowd quickly gathered. “Is that a gold?” “It’s nae a fake is it?” “Hey! That wee fella’s won a gold!” “Can I touch it pal?” “Will he get a picture wi’ the bairn?”

As we gathered around I watched a young 23-year-old athlete from a foreign country, with limited language skills, grin and beam to his audience. No further communication required. He had fought his fight, pressed on to his goal and won his prize. For five minutes or so he patiently stood and was photographed with the hubbub of Glasgow and then carefully put his medal back in his rucksack and walked on.

Even as I write this, it’s hard to explain the privilege it was to hold a Glasgow 2014 gold medal. As Mohd Hafifi Mansor was swallowed back up in the crowds I felt as though my life had somehow changed. Yet really it was only a piece of metal on a red ribbon and, as my friend Helen laughingly said, “It’s about ‘more than gold’, Fiona.” And Helen is absolutely right – it is about so much more than gold. It was the ‘more than’ bit that humbled me.

For a little over a week we had been working alongside church mission teams distributing about 1,000 Penny Gospels a day across the city. We had witnessed people coming to faith, seen answers to our prayers and been a part of one of the biggest outreach missions Glasgow has ever seen.

Mohd Hafifi was one of the thousands who walked up Buchanan Street with a Penny Gospel in his bag, except his Penny Gospel was next to a Commonwealth gold. He had wanted me to try his medal on, to wear it around my neck and get a picture taken, but I hadn’t. To me there was something uncomfortable about sharing in the glory of a gold medal winner. He was the one who had dedicated ten years of his life to arduous training and rigid discipline; only he deserved to wear that victor’s prize. His life’s work was behind that medal and his life was worth more than gold.

As I turned away and offered gospels to the next group on the street, my prayer was that everyone who took a copy of God’s Word, from medal winners to Glaswegian shoppers, would realise that there is a greater prize, one that lasts for eternity.

I want to know Christ — yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:10-14

Fiona McDonald
Director of National Ministries