Worldwide television evangelism has become a staple ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
The expected impact is astounding when compared to Billy Graham's personal ministry. In 55 years of BGEAs ministry, Graham preached to 210 million worldwide, more live audiences than anyone else in history. But the organizations My Hope television project recorded millions of decisions in just four years.
"Our worldwide television project, My Hope, has quickly become a powerful and strategic way to reach entire nations with the Gospel," said BGEA President Franklin Graham in a letter to supporters.
Since 2002, more than two million people watching the telecasts have made recorded commitments to Christ, said Preston Parrish, executive vice president of BGEA. Unrecorded decisions, meanwhile, could rival that number.
While Billy Graham officially retires this year from city-to-city preaching, the BGEA is multiplying Grahams talks in the homes of people around the world through television.
The program trains volunteers to invite friends and family into their homes for three nights of television broadcasts that consist of a Billy Graham crusade, a Franklin Graham crusade, and an evangelistic movie dubbed in the languages of the hosting countries.
So far, the project has been conducted in 17 countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua in 2002; Panama, Paraguay, Russia and Venezuela in 2003; Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador, Russia and Venezuela in 2004; and Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, India, Peru, Moldova, and Russia in 2005.
My Hope is successful in reaching hundreds of thousands because of the Christian volunteers who open their homes, according to Franklin Graham.
"The key is mobilizing thousands of Christian families to pray and invite friends and neighbors into their homes to watch our programs on national television," he said.
This past Christmas, the program aired in India, where it encountered little resistance. More than 700,000 volunteers opened their doors.
India has been a challenge to evangelize. Despite missionary outreach in India for 200 years, only 2.3 percent of 1.1 billion people are Christian, according to the CIA World Factbook.
"The challenge has been, 'How do you present the gospel to a nation as large and complex as India, with as many languages?' Parrish said. "'How do you make a deep and wide impact with a nation with this many people?'"
There are 15 languages in India, including English, and Hindi, which is spoken by 30 percent of the population.
The Indian government allowed the evangelistic broadcasts during the Christmas season, recognizing that it is a Christian holiday.
The program was translated into 14 different languages and aired on 20 different stations throughout the nation. Early reports reveal hundreds of thousands of people have responded to making a decision for Christ.
"By broadcasting the gospel on television, you can penetrate borders or barriers you might not be able to penetrate otherwise," said Parrish. "Logistically it would be difficult and politically it might not be tenable [to preach in some nations]."
Cliff Barrows, Billy Graham's master of ceremonies and music director, in June indicated his excitement over the easy and far-reaching method to preach the gospel through multimedia.
That's a whole new dimension that we haven't been able to carry out in our generation, but the young generation can because of the availability, and their vision, and their faith," he added. "And I just pray that the Lord will continue to richly bless them."
Thousands upon thousands are doing this and getting involved in the church, added Barrows.
Parrish said the ministry is grateful for the accelerated reach that television brings.
"There is an urgency about this hour," he said. "We preach as dying people to dying people."
Unprecedented events in the last 50 years have caused Parrish to wonder about the second coming, but the ministry's focus has always been to use each opportunity as if it's the last.
"Outward indications show that 2006 may well be the year when the Lord comes for His own, but we don't know that," he said. We just have to work as if each moment is our last opportunity for others to know Him."
A BGEA television broadcast will be available in the United States from Jan. 14-22. For show times, check local listings.