October 9, 2013
By Trevor Freeze
Jack Graham is calling it an “unprecedented” opportunity.
Skip Heitzig labeled it as “brilliant.”
Bob Coy says it’s something “our world needs in a big way.”
David Jeremiah was moved to tears. And then did something he “hasn’t done in 40 years of being a pastor.”
Four megachurch pastors in four different parts of the United States have all come to the same conclusion about November’s My Hope America with Billy Graham relationship evangelism outreach.
They’re going all in with their congregations.
Each believes My Hope America is a unique opportunity at the perfect time to reach their metropolitan cities for Christ.
This is not a time to stay on the sidelines.
Dr. Jeremiah is the first to tell you he’s not normally the crying type.
But a few weeks ago, on a slow Saturday night, he popped in “Defining Moments,” the first of three My Hope America videos, and watched it by himself in his office.
Turns out, he might’ve been glad he watched it alone.
“I don’t know how to explain this because I’m not an overly emotional person,” Jeremiah told his Shadow Mountain congregation recently. “But it really caused me to weep.
“It was the Gospel so pure and so powerful that I don’t think I’ve ever seen it like that before.”
There was still time to get his San Diego-based congregation — one of the 20 largest in the Southern Baptist Convention — involved in My Hope America, so he gathered his staff together and showed them “Defining Moments.”
“We all agreed it had the same impact on us as The Passion of the Christ had on us when we saw it the first time,” Jeremiah said.
So, he decided to do something on the Oct. 6-7 weekend services at Shadow Mountain Community Church that he’s never done before — show a video in place of live preaching.
Members invited their unchurched friends, and dozens made decisions for Christ this past Sunday.
Dr. Jeremiah then invited his members to become My Hope hosts or “Matthews,” a term taken from the New Testament where Matthew invited friends over to have a meal and meet Jesus. More than 400 immediately signed up, and Dr. Jeremiah personally gave them My Hope America training on Sunday evening.
The culmination of My Hope America will begin on Nov. 7 — Mr. Graham’s 95th birthday — but even more important than honoring Mr. Graham’s life, the third My Hope video entitled “The Cross” will be airing all over the U.S. and Canada from Nov. 7-10. It will also be available on demand via DVD and Internet streaming, along with “Defining Moments” and “Lose to Gain,” the second program.
“The Cross” will contain life-changing testimonies and one more urgent message from Mr. Graham filmed at his North Carolina mountain home earlier this year.
“I’m hoping we can get this message circulating throughout the entire county,” said Jeremiah, whose church is one of more than 25,000 across the U.S. and Canada to participate. “If your friends see this and understand what’s in this film, they will never see or hear anything more powerful than this presentation of the Gospel.”
A Living Room Crusade?
That’s what many have unofficially called My Hope throughout it’s 10-year history, where more than 10 million decisions for Christ have been recorded in 57 different countries–a majority in living rooms throughout Asia, India, South America and Central America.
That concept especially hit home for Bob Coy, pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, one of the 15 biggest churches in America.
“I actually surrendered my own life to Jesus in the living room of my brother, Jim,” said Coy, who hosted a training event back in March. “So I think it’s right to say that a living room is on par with any church as far as being a place where people can come to Christ.
“And I believe My Hope America is a wonderful way for Christians everywhere to personally experience this.”
In fact, Coy is so convinced that My Hope America will turn many hearts to Christ, he’s giving all his members a DVD copy of “Defining Moments” on Nov. 2 and 3 and asking them to share it with someone who needs the Lord.
“It can be intimidating to think that you’re all alone in your efforts to share Christ,” said Coy, who is encouraging his congregation to show the program in both group settings and one-on-one. “My Hope America sets the stage for sustainable discipleship once the event ends, and that’s something that excites me and that our world needs in a big way.”
Another one of the early adopters to embrace My Hope America, Heitzig didn’t hesitate after hearing the My Hope vision from Franklin Graham at the BGEA headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.
“That is brilliant,” Heitzig thought to himself, hearing the My Hope relationship evangelism strategy.
“To share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in an intimate setting,” said Heitzig, whose New Mexico congregation is of one of the 20 largest in the country. “Scripture confirms that sharing the Gospel person-to-person, house-to-house, is a highly effective method of evangelism.”
This coming weekend, Calvary Albuquerque will be holding a My Hope kickoff in all four weekend services. Heitzig will interview My Hope regional coordinator Robert T. Schlipp (aka “Bibleman”), before showing “Defining Moments” as one final push to his congregation.
Heitzig also feels a personal connection to evangelism in the home, accepting Christ in his brother’s apartment in San Jose while watching a Billy Graham Crusade.
“Can a video change someone’s life?” he said. “You bet it can.”
As pastor of the 6th largest church in the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Graham has seen a lot in nearly a quarter of a century as head pastor.
But then he came across My Hope America.
“Billy Graham is going to be sharing the Gospel,” Graham told the Prestonwood congregation this past Sunday, “and faith is going to be shared at a level that I’ve never quite seen before.”
And Prestonwood’s effort to reach an area the size of the Dallas Metroplex with the Gospel is one that has rarely been seen — or tried.
At each of its three campuses — in Plano, Prosper and Dallas — a huge map sits in the corridor of the church. When someone commits to host a My Hope America viewing party, they put a sticker on the map. The idea is to cover as many neighborhoods as possible with My Hope viewing parties.
“This means our family, our friends, our neighbors, our classmates, our work associates are going to be present to hear the message of Jesus Christ at your invitation,” Graham said. “And we’re going to have an opportunity to see people saved at an unprecedented rate.”
Prestonwood showed “Defining Moments,” at this past weekend’s services and the impact was intense.
“At the dramatic parts of the program where Jim Munroe and Lacey give their lives to the Lord, you could see people start to cry,” said Adam Morgan, My Hope’s Texas/Louisiana coordinator. “And you saw men try to hold back the tears.”
After the service, nearly 600 “Matthews” signed up to host My Hope America in their homes and Prestonwood feels it’s on target to reaching its goal of more than 1,000 homes across the Dallas area, sharing the Gospel of Christ.
“This is the strategy of My Hope America,” Graham said. “From house to house. Door to door. Heart to heart.”
Want to get Involved? It’s not too late for you or your church to sign up for My Hope with Billy Graham in either the U.S. or Canada. Click here to watch “Defining Moments.” Or click here to watch a 30-second trailer for “The Cross,” airing Nov. 7-10 across North America.