April 2, 2013
More than 100 people recently traveled to The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C. to learn how to make My Hope America with Billy Graham their own.
Will Graham introduced the My Hope preparation meeting, which is one of hundreds of training events being held across the United States and online.
“My grandfather has a burden to preach one more time,” said Will Graham. “You’re helping my grandfather do his very last Crusade.”
My Hope America with Billy Graham is a different type of Crusade. It won’t take place in stadiums; it will happen in living rooms across the country, as Christ followers use relationship evangelism to reach family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
The nationwide event, which is scheduled to take place in November, is based on the apostle Matthew, who invited his friends over to meet Jesus 2000 years ago. Billy Graham is calling on believers to be modern day “Matthews” by building relationships and inviting people into their homes to learn about the hope of the Gospel.
“What you guys get to be a part of is literally throwing a party for Jesus, inviting friends to your home,” said Will Graham.
Two pastors who attended the March 26 event believe so strongly in My Hope, they’re going above and beyond to make sure members of their congregation are on board.
“We’ve set aside money to take care of the refreshments for all of the people hosting in their homes, so it won’t be any cost to them,” said Paul Fleming, executive pastor of Forestville Baptist Church in Greenville, S.C. “We’re removing every excuse.”
Fleming traveled to Asheville with education pastor David Rowe to learn more about My Hope, but it’s clear that the two pastors have already made the November event their own.
In addition to eliminating any financial burden for families who wish to host My Hope in their homes, the church is hosting a “Harvest Sunday.” On that day, any new believers who have attended meetings at the homes of church members will be invited to the church for a celebratory dinner.
“Over 80 percent of people say they’ll come to church with a friend if they’re invited,” said Rowe. “It’s something we’re trying to teach as part of the culture of our church, to invest in people and invite them into your lives.”
The My Hope America with Billy Graham training event at The Cove wasn’t just for pastors. Patti Smith decided to come to the event on her own to learn how she can best reach her friends and neighbors for Christ.
“This is the only way to reach so many people that would never come or even tune into a Crusade,” said Smith.
After attending the three-hour training meeting, Smith says she has all the tools she needs to get started, but before she takes another step she plans to pray.
“I want to know what the Lord’s plans are and how He can use me, and then I’ll go forth from there,” said Smith. “But I know I’m going to block November out for this cause.”
In November, the My Hope message will be shown via TV, DVD, and streamed online. The program will combine music, testimony, and a message from Billy Graham with current-day stories of redemption in Christ.
After the video is played, each host will share a brief version of his or her testimony and then invite friends and family to make a decision to follow Jesus. The goal is to continue to disciple new believers by connecting them with local churches and Bible studies.
Fleming says he knows some believers may be nervous about inviting friends into their homes to talk about the hope of Jesus. He hopes they’ll take a step in faith anyway.
“You don’t have to look far to see the need,” said Fleming. “You just need to try. You won’t know if you don’t try.”