RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — Sid Hopkins is a legend when it comes to Olympic pin collecting. He is as much of a presence at recent Olympics as Michael Phelps. Well, almost.
While Hopkins may not be a Gold Medal swimmer, he is a gold medal witness for Christ. He trades Olympic pins as a means of opening doors and initiating conversations to share his faith and talk about Jesus. In fact, for several Olympics he has been affectionately known as “The Pin Man.”
Hopkins uses “More Than Gold” pins that are designed with colors to symbolize the Gospel, distributes them, and uses them as witnessing tools to tell the story of Jesus’ redeeming love.
Hopkins has traded Olympic pins in the Western Hemisphere, Eastern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere, and this year the Southern Hemisphere. Hopkins has set up camp in Rio de Janeiro and the word has already come back to Georgia that Hopkins continues to be unrelenting in his quest to trade pins and share the Gospel.
Bringing a witness
Including the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics this month, Hopkins has ventured to more than ten Olympic Games. He may be seen trading pins in stores and hotel lobbies, on street corners, trains, buses, or wherever people gather. Along with every transaction comes a compelling witness.
Hopkins has served as a missionary with Southern Baptists’ North American Mission Board and director of missions for the Gwinnett Metro Baptist Association, but he is primarily on mission as an ambassador of Christ.
He typically has more than 100 pins on his shirt and vest with hundreds more in reserve whenever he visits one of the hosts Olympic cities.
Becoming Pin Man
According to a Baptist Press article, Olympic pins originated in Athens, Greece in the 1896 Summer Games as a way of identifying the athletes. One hundred years later, Hopkins embraced it at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta – his first Olympic Games.
Hopkins stated, “The Sports TV reporter had not heard anything about pin trading so he decided to interview me and televise the interview in the morning. When we were in the Olympics in Torino, God opened the door for me to be on television and used that publicity to provide multiple witnessing opportunities.”
“I decided to get my picture made with Spider-Man and Captain America. As we were being photographed Spider-Man said, ‘Hello, Pin Man.’
“Obviously, he had on his mask and Spider-Man attire and I had no idea who was parading as a super hero. After the photo was made I asked him, ‘How did you know I am the Pin Man?’
“He said, ‘I am the young man at the door of the Megastore yesterday that came out to trade a pin with you and you shared the “story telling” pin with me and I want to thank you.’
Hopkins added, “I shared the Gospel with a worker at the Megastore yesterday and today he was Spider-Man. God is good!”