I especially want to tell this story because it concerns two of my compatriots.
In the 1988 Seoul Olympics Finn Class race, Lawrence Lemieux was all set to win a medal, perhaps even a gold.
He was ahead of others in second position only just halfway through the race.
That was when he saw a capsized boat competing in a difference race. Two Singaporean sailors were in dire straits.
One was barely hanging on to the upturned boat whose rudder was missing, making it impossible to right the boat.
The other was swept away in the strong current, trying hard to get back to the upside down boat that was drifting faster than he could swim.
Lawrence Lemieux was confronted with a choice.
He could go on and finish his race and make his name in Olympic history. Or he could go on and save the two Singaporean sailors in desperate need of help.
Lemieux chose to abandon the race and went to rescue an exhausted Joseph Chan. He dragged him aboard his single-person craft in the rough sea.
When he reached the capsized boat, he saw the other sailor Shaw Her Siew had sustained a gaping cut on his hand. He then set off to find the missing rudder so that the Singaporeans could right their boat. It took him less than 15 minutes. By then many of the competitors had raced past him.
Meanwhile Lemieux’s coach fearing the worst came looking for him. He arrived just as Lemieux returned with the rudder.
Lemieux let his coach take over the rescue effort and went on to finish the race. He ended in 22nd place out of 35 boats in the race.
Lawrence Lemieux did not win an Olympic medal. But he won the hearts of many in the Olympic world.
He showed us something that we still talk about today.
He showed us there is something more glorious than gold, more precious than prize money and more important than coming in first.
He showed to the competitive world bent on winning that winning is not everything.
He showed to our world, which is always looking out for the number one that saving two men matter more than winning a medal for personal or national glory.
He exemplifies the good shepherd willing to leave behind his ninety-nine sheep to search and rescue the one sheep that was missing and in grave danger.
Jesus told that story in Luke 15:1-7 to highlight the importance of rescuing the perishing. Even if it is just one soul saved, there is great rejoicing in heaven.
Surely no one knows the depth of gratitude better than my two rescued compatriots.
They too are numbered among those who know, “Winning is not everything!”