USA (MNN) — 95 years is a long time. It's a pillar milestone in the life of a ministry, and it's even more remarkable in the life of an individual. This year, evangelist Billy Graham is celebrating his 95th birthday, but he won't be doing it like anyone else. He has ministry in mind and so does the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. That's why they're launching "My Hope America with Billy Graham."
Vice President of the project Preston Parrish sat down and talked with MNN's Greg Yoder at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, TN last week. He says "My Hope with Billy Graham" is a grassroots effort to reach people across the United States and Canada with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Parrish says, "We already have churches involved from all 50 states across the United States and every province in Canada. We're looking for a lot more to join in with us to make this happen, culminating in November of this year," which is Billy Graham's 95th birthday.
Following a simple biblical model, "My Hope with Billy Graham" combines the impact of video programs with the power of personal relationships. Under the guidance of their local pastors, Christians across these two countries will open their homes to share the Gospel message with friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors, using videos featuring Billy Graham, dynamic music, and testimonies.
Many Christians are nervous about sharing their faith with others. Parish says the strategy follows Matthew's example in Scripture. "Matthew (was a tax collector) in the New Testament, Matthew chapter nine. He met Christ, then threw a party at his house so his other friends could come and meet Jesus." He's asking churches to start doing this in April to begin praying.
Parrish says, "What would happen in this nation and in our churches if hundreds of thousands of Christians just started praying for lost people. Just that alone would be an incredible step forward for the work of the Gospel in our nation."
Perrish says all of this work culminates in November, Billy Graham's birthday, with a nationwide television broadcast. "The program that we make available not only on TV, but on DVD and internet streaming, will be a fresh message of hope in Jesus Christ from Billy Graham that really is key to the hurts and the habits of people today."
Because Graham is still one of the most respected people in the world today, Perrish believes that alone will encourage people to watch and listen. "The point, the focus, of 'My Hope America with Billy Graham' is Jesus Christ. But, if you will, the 'bait on the hook' is Billy Graham and the message he has to share with our nation."
The "My Hope" Project has already been to 57 countries around the world. Since 2002, more than 4.5 million people (or "Matthews") have opened their homes to proclaim the Gospel. It's seen literally millions of people make commitments to Christ. Perrish is hoping that's duplicated in North America.
If you'd like to get your church involved, or you'd like to be involved individually, go to http://www.MyHopeWithBillyGraham.org to sign up and get connected.