(Photo: The Christian Post)
VIENNA, Va. – The latest project by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that emphasizes interpersonal relationship as a means to spreading the Gospel was presented at a D.C.-area megachurch on Tuesday afternoon.
The presentation, called "My Hope With Billy Graham," was given to a small but attentive group of ministers and laity at McLean Bible Church. William W. Conard, executive director of the My Hope project, told The Christian Post that "My Hope" was wrought out of international evangelism efforts begun in 2001.
"Franklin Graham asked us to carry his father's message around the world," said Conard, who had 20 years of experience as a missionary in Latin America. "He asked me to take it around the world. We started in Central America, small countries and then went on to other Latin American countries," continued Conard, who noted that other countries like Russia and India were also involved.
When asked by CP if a message of relationship could work in the United States' individualistic culture, Conard responded that even independent-minded Americans need human relationships.
"Yeah, we can be individuals but human beings are also social creatures and that's proven," said Conard, who described how technology can only provide so much for socializing and relationship building. "For Christians to say I am there for your life, I am there for as long as you need me and Christ will help you just like He is helping me."
Conard stressed the need for good relationships for Americans, as many suffer alone due to being without such positive social interactions.
"I think this is the way, because we are not inviting people to a religion, we are not inviting them to a church, we are inviting them…to friendships," said Conard.
Conard presented an overview of the "My Hope" project with those gathered at McLean. Those in attendance received an information packet containing the literary materials associated with "My Hope," as well as a DVD that they can show to friends and acquaintances.
According to its website, My Hope "is a grass-roots effort to reach people across the United States and Canada with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
After a 15-minute break, attendees got to hear from BJ Rogers, pastor and director of the BGEA's "Rock the Lakes Festival" of 2011 in Milwaukee. Rogers detailed the content of the literary material and shared personal stories about evangelism and enduring faith in times of personal distress.
Rogers explained to CP that he oversaw the training for those involved in the "Christian Life and Witness" program, which was connected to the "My Hope" project.
"If people can catch the vision of being relational and having an understanding that evangelism is really about the relationships around me and how do I offer Christ to people that I have an ongoing either knowledge of or people I meet on an ongoing basis," said Rogers. "I think that once people can capture that vision if you will of its not just large stadiums filled with people, it's me talking to a neighbor across the street."
Events at "My Hope With Billy Graham" will continue to take place in the Washington, D.C., metro area, including a similar presentation set for Jan. 24 at First Baptist Church in Laurel, Md.