November 18, 2013
By Tiffany Jothen
As millions of Americans gathered this past week to watch Billy Graham’s final message, “The Cross,” more than 400 trained Internet Evangelism volunteers were poised over their keyboards, ready for action.
“The Cross” is the nationally broadcast flagship program of My Hope America, a grassroots outreach that came to a head last week. But while “The Cross” is touching countless hearts, My Hope has always been about more than a short film. It’s about people who need Christ in their lives.
Online Search for Jesus (SFJ) volunteers are still following up with viewers — through online chat, email and an online discipleship course — and in some cases, volunteers are seeing God move in their own circles of family and friends.
During “The Cross” broadcast, viewers were invited to visit FindingMyHope.org. There, they had an opportunity to chat with someone online. Trained SFJ volunteers were on the other end and chatted with hundreds of people.
An online visitor named Jan chatted with a BGEA-trained online counselor, or e-counselor. She said it’s amazing to know “that God loves me just as I am, not as I think I should be.”
Jan said she’s a Christian whose faith has grown stronger in the past year. But she was still struggling with feelings of bitterness toward another person.
“I’m trying to let it go, but it seems to creep back up,” she said. “In what other ways can I let this go?”
Carolyn, an e-counselor, told Jan she can’t do it in her own strength, “but God can.” She suggested confessing the bitterness and asking God to change Jan’s heart, citing Ephesians 4:30-32 about forgiving others. Carolyn prayed for Jan and sent her a link to SFJ’s online discipleship course, KnowJesus.net.
Hundreds of people have already signed up for the KnowJesus course as a result of My Hope. Each one will be connected with a SFJ discipleship coach who’s there to answer questions and guide individuals through the course.
Other online visitors who talked to SFJ volunteers said they felt broken and needed direction.
A woman named Patty told one e-counselor after watching “The Cross” that “God spoke to my bruised heart tonight. … I’ve been trying to hide from God for so long because I know I haven’t been living right. I was ashamed to go to Him.”
The e-counselor told her that nothing shocks God, and “He’s always waiting for us” when people turn to Him. Patty said she asked God for forgiveness and would commit to going to her home church that Sunday. She hadn’t been in years.
“I will be scared to walk through the door,” she said, “but I will do it. I want to do it.”
Some visitors emailed their questions instead of chatting online. Volunteers have responded to hundreds of emails already with many more to go.
Deryl, who served as an e-counselor during My Hope, saw both sides of the My Hope outreach. Before volunteering online, he showed “The Cross” to 50 people.
Volunteer Bianca showed it to one very important person — her husband.
“My husband of 38 years said he was a Christian for most of our marriage,” she said. She showed him “The Cross,” and he watched it multiple times.
“After about the fifth time, he asked me to come talk with him,” she said. “I had the honor to lead my husband to a living relationship to our Lord that is for real and forever.”
Many SFJ volunteers said they feel blessed and humbled to be part of such a large movement to tell people about Jesus. One volunteer, Sharon, said this is “an amazing time to be alive and witnessing.”
Fellow volunteer Lori said, “I’m amazed by God and how He’s using the media and our Spirit-filled volunteers!”
Many volunteers covered online visitors in prayer and prayed for each other as they came together to witness online.
“We know God will move,” a volunteer named Tripp said just before the My Hope broadcasts. “Praise God for His faithfulness and His never-ending love for us!”
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You can still watch “The Cross,” online or share with a friend. Click here.