An estimated 400 Florida Baptist churches are among the nearly 22,000 churches—with more being added daily—that have signed on to participate in the project, which is expected to result in thousands of individuals opening their homes and reaching out in their communities. It is the largest evangelism effort across the United States in the history of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
“If ever there was a time this country needed the intervention of God, it is now,” wrote Billy Graham in a recent letter to supporters. “We can and should pray for America as a whole, but remember that when God sets out to change a nation, He begins by changing people. It starts with individuals. The more I pray, the more deeply I feel that My Hope America is the right outreach for this country today.”
David Burton, lead strategist in evangelism for the Florida Baptist Convention, said the project has dovetailed nicely into the Convention’s state-wide evangelism strategy, “Love Your Neighbor … Share Christ.”
“As we teach ‘Love Your Neighbor,’ it gives us a very practical, simple and direct approach to sharing the evangelism essential incorporated within the strategy,” Burton told Florida Baptist Witness.
And with one out of every 12 churches in American already registered, Burton said there’s no doubt that each Florida Baptist church participating in the My Hope event “will be greatly blessed and encouraged.”
From the simple witness training, to how to share their testimony, to a simple presentation of the Gospel—the My Hope emphasis gives each participant an opportunity to clearly share with those people around them their story of hope in Jesus Christ, Burton said.
“[My Hope] is a simple biblical plan to help each person share God’s love with the people in their lives,” he said.
Burton said the plan is simple in that individuals will invite guest into their homes to learn about Jesus through television/DVD that will
feature Billy Graham, dynamic music, and testimonies. Then the DVD can and will be shown in, coffee shops, workplaces, schools, and other areas where believers will gather people at other times as well. So even if they miss they initial launch, they can still take part.
“This media process will be used intensely during the first week of November (Nov. 4-8) to saturate our country by using TV, DVDs, downloads, web streaming, and mobile devices,” Burton said. “Someone has said it’s like having a crusade in the living room ... I like that.”
During that week, families and individuals will become “Matthews,” based on passages in biblical passages in Matthew and Luke when the apostle Matthew invited friends into his house to meet the person who changed his life.
“In a very similar way, families and individuals will invite people into their homes for this living room crusade,” Burton said. “They will host friends for the outreach and show the DVD program. They will then briefly share their own personal testimony of how they met Jesus and invited him into their life. They will then ask friends to do the same and we will see many pray and ask Jesus to come into their lives that night. Then these same Matthews will be instructed how to follow up with these new believers and encourage them to become a part of a strong local church.”
Burton said he is excited that pastors who are training their congregations in this simple approach of evangelism, are not simply training them for a week, but teaching them “for the rest of their lives, incorporating [evangelism] into their daily lifestyle for spreading the Gospel week after week which will grow the church, the body of Christ, and in doing so we will see thousands of people baptized in obedience to Christ’s command.”
Graham recently completed recording his personal message to the nation in a new program called “The Cross,” which is set to debut during that first week of November. In addition to his new message, the program features the moving faith stories of rapper Lecrae and Lacey Sturm, former lead singer of the band Flyleaf.
Pastors who have registered to participate will soon receive DVDs of “The Cross,” the primary program in the My Hope America series. Individuals participating in the project will be able to order DVDs of the program online for free. Plans are also being finalized for television broadcasts of “The Cross” the first week of November. All My Hope programs will also be available for viewing online.
Burton said it is his hope that everyone can participate in the simultaneous emphasis in the first week of November, and that by doing so, “they ride a huge wave of a massive prayer cover … and a moving of God’s Holy Spirit like something we may have never experienced before.” Additionally, Graham, who preached his first sermon in Palatka, Fla. on Easter Sunday in 1937, celebrates his 95th birthday on Nov. 7.
But if not, Burton said, the material is not dated, and can be used anytime the pastor chooses “It is strong,
practical, simple,” he said. “It is easy to use, teach, understand and reproduce. The DVD is powerful enough to show over and over in different settings, whenever God opens the door for families, individuals, small groups, businesses, Bible clubs, etc.”
“It is my prayer that many will use it this Spring as we approach Easter,” Burton said, if they don’t get involved in November.
For more information about My Hope America with Billy Graham, including how it works and how to be involved, visit www.MyHopewithBillyGraham.org and for info specific to Florida go to www.flbaptist.org/myhope or call 1-877- MY HOPE (1-877-769-4673).
[With reporting by Witness managing editor Joni B. Hannigan.]
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