(Photo: Courtesy of Prestonwood Baptist Church)
More than 20,000 people have been invited into homes, businesses, and high school locker rooms in the North Texas area by members of Prestonwood Baptist Church to hear the Gospel message as presented by Billy Graham and his ministry association in an inspiring video shown during this entire week, which included the iconic preacher's birthday celebration on Thursday.
Prestonwood Pastor Jack Graham (no blood relation to Billy Graham) told The Christian Post that this aggressive, 6-month campaign in which he and his staff enlisted hosts from the Dallas-area congregations at three locations to share Graham's My Hope America video "Defining Moments" is not over.
"This is house-to-house witness and evangelism, book of Acts style," Graham explained. "We pray that it's not just a moment, but truly a movement in our church and we are asking God to send revival through our community as a result of this aggressive, proactive intentional sharing of Christ and the Gospel."
Although the celebration of Billy Graham's 95th birthday on Thursday included a new video presentation called "The Cross" broadcasted nationally through television and the Internet, members of Prestonwood have already been showing "Defining Moments" since the beginning of the week.
"I'm hearing about locker rooms where coaches that know Christ are sharing the video," Graham said Thursday. "Fifteen high school football players came to Christ last evening."
Nationwide, organizers for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association report that more than 26,000 churches are participating in the My Hope America campaign. This week, a countless number of Christian leaders have been telling stories about the impact Billy Graham has had on them personally and on generations of people.
"The New Testament speaks of the evangelist as being a gift, and Dr. Graham has certainly been a gift to our country for all these years," said Graham, who was en route to Billy Graham's birthday celebration during the phone interview with CP. "I consider him a personal mentor and father in ministry. I'm celebrating today what God can do with a life like Billy Graham who is completely yielded and consecrated to the Lord."
Prestonwood's executive pastor, Mike Buster, told CP that the idea of the church being fully engaged in the project began with staff members and deacons understanding what a tremendous opportunity they had in helping people share the Gospel after viewing "Defining Moments" and a training video on how to throw a "Matthew Party."
"That's what sold the idea. Once you see the [Defining Moments] video, it's such a powerful profession, it's so moving," Buster said. "Six months ago, our executive team saw it and there wasn't a dry eye afterwards and we knew the Lord was all over it and we had to do this."
The executive pastor said that at each of Prestonwood's locations, organizers put up huge maps of the surrounding area, along with red dots to designate a host home that has agreed to invite neighbors and friends to watch the video at a gathering.
Several weeks ago, "Defining Moments" was shown during all six worship services on a Sunday, Buster said.
"We had a great response to that. People got saved that day," he said.
Last Sunday, everyone at every church service who was hosting a gathering in their home was invited to come forward and have the whole congregation pray for all the hosts.
"We had 2,000 people spread out over five services," Buster said. "We had hundreds and hundreds of people on their knees and the congregation and the pastor praying for them and for God to move in their home."
He explained that the "My Hope America" project has helped members focus on the mission of the Church.
"The Prestonwood mission statement is to glorify God and introduce people to Jesus Christ as Lord to as many people as possible, and this has given people a vision for what they can do in their own neighborhoods – being the light, and sharing the Gospel."
He added, "It's brought a sense of purpose among the people in our area in the sense of evangelism and outreach."