A massive T.V. outreach project by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association kicked off on Thursday all over the predominantly Buddhist country of Thailand.
More than 36,000 Christians representing 1,700 churches will participate in the three-day outreach that involves inviting friends and family to their homes to watch sermons from Franklin and Billy Graham dubbed in the Thai language. The program also includes testimonies and songs from Thai Christians.
Entitled the "My Hope" project, organizers have distributed more than 30,000 DVDs of the sermons to Christians across the country. The plan is to have the Thai Christians show the video from Dec. 17 to 18. Then on the final day of the project, Dec. 19, the program will be broadcast on television. The programs will also be aired on radio stations nationwide throughout the outreach.
"In a country where only one-half of one percent of the population belongs to an evangelical church, the need for the Gospel is tremendous," said Bill Conard, vice president of international ministries at BGEA. "But the church is ready, and we are eagerly anticipating what God will do through His people."
Participating Christians are referred to as "Matthews" in respect to the disciple who invited friends to his home to meet Jesus as recorded in Matthew 9. The Matthews will give personal testimonies to the guests after the video ends and will then invite those present to accept or rededicate their lives to Jesus Christ. All the Matthews received training prior to the outreach.
"It is no easy thing to express your faith in Christ and ask others to join you," Conard said. "We're praying that God would grant courage to these faithful believers as they reach out to their loved ones during the Christmas season."
Since its launch in 2002, the "My Hope" project has taken place in 46 countries with more than 9.4 million people worldwide indicating a decision to follow Jesus Christ.
Each person who chooses to follow Jesus through "My Hope" fills out a response card and a local pastor follows up with the person. The pastor will encourage and disciple the person in the same host home that they made their decision. Through pastors and home groups, those who were found during "My Hope" can be integrated into local churches.
More than 4.2 million Christians have served as hosts.
Upcoming "My Hope" outreach events will take place in the Dominican Republic (March 2010) and Puerto Rico (April 2010).