Will North Carolina be a key swing state that could have a major impact on the nation’s future? Those organizing My Hope with Billy Graham seem to think so, but they are not talking about politics and the upcoming presidential election.
More than a year from now, in coordination with Billy Graham’s 95th birthday in November 2013, the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will launch a nationwide effort to share the gospel in living rooms around the nation through the help of televisions, computers, smart phones and various other wireless devices. Some organizers believe My Hope could be Graham’s “final call to America to turn to God.”
Graham, who is best known for sharing the gospel in packed stadiums around the world, will focus on what some are calling “the living room crusades.”
Preston Parrish, vice president of My Hope, contends North Carolina churches will play a key role in spearheading the effort through prayer and driving support for the campaign.
“North Carolina, and specifically North Carolina Baptists, represent a swing constituency that can help set the pace and develop the momentum for this gospel effort across our nation,” Parrish said. “We’re asking every single person in North Carolina who loves Jesus Christ to begin getting involved right now with their prayers. “We’re praying that the beginning, the epicenter of this great national movement, will indeed be right here in North Carolina.”
What is My Hope with Billy Graham?
For the past decade, My Hope has been used in 57 nations around the world as a video-based tool for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Video footage of Billy Graham passionately sharing the hope of Jesus Christ has been shown in more than 4.2 million homes with 305,000 churches participating. And since then an average of 2.2 decisions per home have accepted Jesus as their Savior. This successful approach is now being prepared to hit households in the United States and will center around one week next November.
“My Hope with Billy Graham is a massive effort to reach people at a grass roots level across our nation with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Parrish said.
According to materials provided by My Hope organizers, Christians are encouraged to invite friends and family to their homes to hear the gospel message through various media programs. Each host also will share their own story of how they met Jesus and invite their friends to pray to receive Christ. The host family will follow up with new believers and encourage them to become part of a local church. Before My Hope kicks off, Christians will receive training to host small groups. These host families will be called “Matthews.”
“It’s biblical,” said Parrish, who shared how Matthew in scripture invited friends into his home and shared the gospel. The effort, he said, is focused around building off of relationships that are already in place or those that are being established now and in the months leading up to next fall.
“The beauty of this strategy is when individuals come into a home to hear the gospel and respond to Christ, they’re already connected with a family, a small group that is in a church. And then that church is able to continue on with the follow-up and nurture of individuals.’”
A nation in need of the gospel
Those involved with the project say the timing of My Hope couldn’t be better.
This summer Graham released a prayer letter addressing his concern for the nation. In the letter Graham wrote: “My heart aches for America and its deceived people. The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance.”
Graham recalled how his late wife, Ruth, once expressed concerns about the “downward spiral” of the nation’s moral standards.
In his letter, Graham quoted her as saying, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
“I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today?” he asked. “In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned. Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.”
Graham made headlines earlier this year when he publically supported North Carolina’s marriage amendment, defining marriage between a man and a woman in the state’s constitution.
“At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage,” he said in a statement. “The Bible is clear – God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.”
The amendment went on to pass with an overwhelming majority of the vote.
In late July, Graham again emerged in the headlines after he released a statement defending Chick-fil-A.
The fast-food chain came under fire for an interview with the Biblical Recorder when Chick-fil-A’s president said he supported a traditional, biblical view of marriage.
“I want to express my support for my good friends Truett Cathy and his son Dan Cathy, and for their strong stand for the Christian faith,” he said in a statement.
In today’s society, more than ever, Parrish said people need a clear articulation of the gospel and the Truth that Christ has to offer. “I think all of us who love this nation, who call this nation home, are concerned about spiritual developments in our nation,” Parrish said.
“We see rising secularism. We see increasing nominalism in the Christian church. We see a surge of anti-Christian religions here. … All of this is dramatically altering the spiritual fabric of our nation as we have known it for so many years. It is a great concern.”
Time to respond
Though My Hope won’t officially launch until next year, Parrish said churches and small group ministries can begin to get involved now and in the months to come through prayer, by receiving training and through relationship building.
“[Sharing the gospel is] really something Christians are to be engaged in … day by day as they are going in the context of their life and relationships.”
For more information about My Hope and how you can get involved, go to myhopewithbillygraham.org.
At the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) annual meeting in Greensboro there will be a breakout session on the emphasis Nov. 13 from 3:45 p.m. to 5 p.m. Leaders will include BSC leaders Don McCutcheon, Marty Dupree and Guillermo Soriano.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Shawn Hendricks is managing editor of the Biblical Recorder, North Carolina’s source for Baptist news.)