August 5, 2013
By Kristy Etheridge
In just three months, believers across Canada will also be stepping out in faith, sharing the Gospel with friends, family and neighbors who haven’t had a life-changing encounter with Christ.
My Hope with Billy Graham is a movement that’s stretching across North America, from the Southern United States to Canada’s Northwest Territories. A project that’s centered around relationship evangelism, My Hope encourages believers to cultivate authentic relationships with people in their lives.
With a solid foundation of friendship established, this November, Christians will be able to use the My Hope project to share their faith with unbelievers—in some cases, for the first time.
“This type of large-scale event has not been done before, and that’s why we’re quite excited about the potential for this,” said Dave Ingram, director of ministry for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada.
Nearly 2,000 Canadian churches representing each of the country’s ten provinces and three territories have already signed up for My Hope, encapsulating Canada’s official motto, A mari usque ad mare—“From sea to sea.”
With so many geographical areas covered by My Hope participants, it may be more appropriate to say, “From sea to sea to sea,” as the evangelism project seeks to reach people from the Atlantic to the Pacific and up to the Arctic.
One key area is Quebec.
“Quebec is the least evangelized area of North America, and we’ve gotten some very positive feedback from pastors and church leaders about the project there,” Ingram said.
Because residents of Quebec are predominantly French speakers, BGEA of Canada is creating a French version of all of the major My Hope media, including a 30-minute video called, “Defining Moments.”
The original English version features preaching from Billy Graham, interwoven with the stories of three individuals who explain how and why they made decisions for Christ. The powerful video may be the most influential part of the My Hope materials. For that reason, it was important not to merely use French subtitles, but to find French Canadian Christians who could share their own stories.
The French “Defining Moments” video will be finished later this month and will feature two French-speaking Canadians and an American, along with a message from Billy Graham, with French subtitles.
Ingram says the video has already proven to be a big help in recruiting churches to participate in My Hope, because it takes the project from an abstract concept to a visible, tangible mission.
“Once people see the video, they say, ‘Oh, that’s what My Hope is. That’s really very cool.’ Once the video got out there, that became a tremendous tool for us to utilize for people to get on board.”
Even with the growing enthusiasm for My Hope, there are challenges for the BGEA team in Canada, where evangelistic efforts aren’t always well received.
“Just in the sense that there are a lot less churches in Canada, and Christianity is a little more on the outside looking in,” Ingram said. “Sometimes just to get someone to listen to you about Christ is a challenge.”
The fact that My Hope is based on relationships has helped the project to grow. Organizations like the Salvation Army have voiced support for the mission and are helping spread the word. Several major denominational leaders have also jumped on board, providing momentum to propel the vision across the country.
My Hope will culminate in early November, as Mr. Graham celebrates his 95th birthday. Ingram says the BGEA of Canada has made arrangements with four different cable channels that will show the My Hope programming that week, covering the entire country. The My Hope materials will also be available via DVD and streaming on the web.
Ingram hopes thousands of Christians will follow through and participate, inviting their unchurched friends to come to their homes in November.
“Just really pray that this has a tremendous impact on our society,” Ingram said. “On individuals, but also on our society. Studies show ‘no religion’ is the fastest growing faith group in Canada. The proportion of Christ followers is really on the decline. We pray this would be one opportunity for significant impact in Canada.”
My Hope preparation meetings have already been held in 90 cities across the country, dotting the 5,000-mile span from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic.
It isn’t easy reaching the second largest country on earth, but, guided by prayer, the BGEA and its partner churches hope to spread the Gospel “from sea to sea”—a motto that originated in the Bible.
May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the Riverto the ends of the earth! (Psalm 72:8, ESV)
King David was foreshadowing the reign of Jesus Christ, the Savior that thousands of Canadians are praying their friends and family will meet—perhaps for the first time—this year.