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The Dream of a Lifetime

Canoe racing was added to the Olympics at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, France.

At that time, ocean going ships were the primary means of travel between the United States and France. Athletes couldn’t hop on a jet and be there in a matter of hours like they do today. This presented a dilemma for one member of the United States four man canoe team who were expected to win the gold medal.

Bill Havens’ wife was expecting, and if he made the long journey there was a good chance he wouldn’t make it back in time for the birth of his first child. While his wife insisted he should compete, he struggled with the decision. If he stayed, it would mean setting aside his life long dream he had spent years working towards. If he went, his wife would give birth without him at her side.

His eventually decided to withdraw from the Olympics and stay behind with his wife because he considered being with her more important than pursuing his life-long dream in the Olympics.

The United States four man team won the gold in canoe racing without him. And Bill’s wife gave birth so late, that had he left and competed in the Olympics he could have still returned home without missing the birth of his son. While the world saw it as a missed opportunity, Bill Havens had no regrets. His commitment to someone he loved dearly was more important to him than a Gold medal around his neck.

But this story doesn’t end there…

28 years later, in 1952, Bill Havens received a cablegram from Frank, the son he stayed behind to seen born. The cablegram was Helsinki, Finland, the venue for the 1952 Olympic Games:

“Dad, I won. I’m bringing home the gold medal you lost while waiting for me to be born.”

Frank Havens won the gold medal for the United States in the canoe-racing event. He won the Gold medal that his father had sacrificed 28 years earlier to be with his mother while he was born.

As Christians, we also make a commitment to someone we love that is more important to us than anything the world could offer. And at the end of this race called life, we also will receive a reward we have dreamed of getting, but did not earn. This reward was not earned by our son, as was the case of Bill Havens, but by the Son of God. And he does not bring it home to us, but brings us home to receive it in Heaven.

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8

Take It to the Next Level

  • What dilemma’s do Christians face as they live out their commitment to Christ, to the one they love? What struggles do you face? What struggles have you face?
  • Bill Havens sacrificed the Gold, and never expected that his son would one day receive it.  As Christians we know that our sacrifices here on earth will be honored in heaven. Do we live for the rewards or do we live the way we do because of our commitment to the one we love? What’s the difference?
  • How does knowing that God will honor our sacrifices, give us strength to make the difficult choices in life?
  • What is a commitment you need to make out of your love for Christ this week, knowing that God will honor that commitment?
  • How can you make that commitment a reality?


Get "Go for the Gold" Youth Bible Study SeriesGo for the Gold
Need an evangelistic Youth Camp/ Bible Study Series with an Olympic Theme?

What is salvation all about? What does it mean to be saved? This sports themed Bible Study / Camp Curriculum uses the Olympic Flag to introduce the concepts of sin (black circle), forgiveness (red circle), purity (white background), spiritual growth (green circle), heaven (Yellow Circle) and (Baptism) blue circle.
-> Tell me about “Go for the Gold”

Get "Destined to Win" Youth Bible Study SeriesDestined to Win
Need a Youth Camp/ Bible Study Series on “Running the Christian Race”?

The race as a metaphor for the Christian life is used in several places in the Bible. This series is a great follow up for new Christians or to re-emphasize the basics of our spiritual Journey in the Faith. This Bible Study / Camp Curriculum has a sports theme and is great for athletes as well as a tie in to the youth Olympic Games.
->Tell me about “Destined to Win”

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