- (Photo: AOL's 'You've Got' Program via The Christian Post)
The "My Hope with Billy Graham" campaign has reached over 57 countries with the Gospel and is set to culminate in November of this year to mark the preacher's 95th birthday.
"My Hope" began 10 years ago and was intended to teach Billy Graham's message of hope to the world in places where the aging evangelist could not physically travel. In December, the movement hosted eight information sessions at locations around America, and those efforts are only set to increase in January and the months leading up to Graham's birthday.
"The important point is that, all together, 'My Hope with Billy Graham' is building momentum as an unprecedented nationwide, grass-roots movement of caring Christians reaching out with the love and Good News of Christ in their network of relationships," Joe Mott, of "My Hope with Billy Graham" communications, shared with The Christian Post. "The purpose of the information sessions is to equip pastors to recruit and train their church members to follow the example of the Apostle Matthew from the Bible."
The organization says that the effort comes at a "critical time," pointing to a recent Pew Forum poll that revealed that one in five Americans now identify themselves as non-religious. The BGEA says, however, that churches and people are responding to the "My Hope" movement positively, and expect to see massive participation in the last year of the campaign.
"Already over 3,000 churches have now registered on our website to be involved – we're working toward having up to 50,000 churches involved," said Preston Parrish, vice president of "My Hope with Billy Graham." "More than 65,000 individuals are already involved. Ultimately, we're working toward equipping up to 300,000 people to open their homes in conjunction with Mr. Graham's 95th birthday message to the nation in November 2013."
The sessions will use many of the resources used in the Billy Graham Evangelical Crusades that have been reaching people for over 60 years, and will seek to inspire pastors and church leaders how to more effectively share the Gospel with the world. One-on-one conversations will be the main root of fostering evangelism outreach, but many different tools will also be employed in the mission, including TV, radio, DVD, music and Internet.
"There is no charge for the sessions. Some of the BGEA's most experienced trainers will be present. The training will include: Session I – Matthew and Friends; Session II – Spiritual Preparation; and Session III – How to do 'My Hope with Billy Graham' in your church and to tell other pastors about the opportunity," the Public Relations Specialist added.
The movement is set to reach another 47 major cities in the U.S. and another 44 cities in Canada over the next three months alone, and will spread across every area of each country.
"'My Hope' has been used in many countries and hundreds of thousands of people have received Christ as Savior," Graham has said. "I think it is going to be a tremendous time of evangelism. I think that the Lord is going to use it mightily. I've been praying that we might have a spiritual awakening. But I think that becomes possible as individuals surrender their lives fresh and anew to Christ. And that's the hope that we have."
On Nov. 7, 2012, Graham celebrated his 94th birthday, and said that despite his advanced age and certain aches that come with it, he still feels motivated and capable of spreading God's word.
"I never expected I would live this long, outliving my beloved wife Ruth as well as many friends and loved ones," Graham said. "I believe God must still have a purpose for keeping me here, and I look forward to seeing what that might be."