Between 2007 and 2012, the percentage of Americans with no religious affiliation rose from just over 15 percent to nearly 20 percent. One in three adults younger than 30 have no religious affiliation. And since 1990, the number of people calling themselves atheists or agnostics has more than tripled.
The Gallup organization’s polls indicate that the percentage of Americans in favor of same-sex marriage increased from 27 percent in 1996 to 53 percent in 2011.
The Obama administration has not only stopped enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act but has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn both that law and California’s Proposition 8, in which the people of that state declared that only marriage between a man and a woman would be valid or recognized.
More than 80 Republicans—including members of that party’s former administrations, former members of Congress and former governors—in February filed a friend of the court brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8.
The U.S. government has mandated that employers, with few exceptions, include in their health plans free access to contraceptives, including some that may cause abortion. Christian-owned and Christian-run businesses now find themselves having to choose between obeying their conscience, which would result in exorbitant daily fines; and obeying government, which would violate their religious beliefs.
Jan. 22 marked the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which has resulted in the murder of 55 million unborn children. On the day of the anniversary, a poll by NBC and The Wall Street Journal reported that 70 percent of Americans would not want to overturn that decision.
Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tenn., has effectively shut down a number of Christian student organizations by decreeing that no recognized student group can require its leaders to hold specific beliefs. This would make it possible, for example, for a hostile group of students to take over a group with which it disagrees and then change its mission or disband it.
A survey by the Barna Group found that people who identify themselves as Christians show significant confusion about the Bible. Only slightly more than half believe that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; 40 percent think that Satan is not a living being but only a symbol of evil; and more than half believe the Holy Spirit is not really a living person.
Is there any hope that North Americans might turn back to God in significant numbers?
“It is not too late,” says Franklin Graham. “We still have a window of opportunity to reach a lost and dying world.” Although the spiritual need has never been greater, Christians across the United States are catching the vision for the transformation that could occur when thousands of believers open their homes to present the Gospel this November through My Hope.
Since 2002, BGEA has conducted My Hope in 57 countries, recording some 10 million commitments to Jesus Christ. Whether in Latin America, Africa, Asia or Europe, Christians have watched in amazement as God has changed hearts through My Hope. Now it’s North America’s turn.
And none too soon, considering the spiritual state of the United States. Franklin Graham stresses the gravity of the situation: “This is serious business,” he said. “It’s life and death.”
Gary Cobb, director of training for BGEA, put it this way: “My Hope is a gigantic rescue effort. It’s about people who are going to spend eternity away from God. As Christians, we must be faithful to the Lord’s command to take the Gospel to the lost.”
Darrell Engle, pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Aiken, S.C., was one of more than 170 pastors and other church leaders who attended a Feb. 28 My Hope training meeting in Lexington, S.C., to learn about the simple, proven model that calls for believers to pray daily for friends who don’t know Christ, look for ways to strengthen those friendships, and then invite those people to their home to watch a program that presents the Gospel. After hearing how the project works, Engle said My Hope is what he has been looking for to help members of his congregation share their faith.
Proven Strategy for Churches
Most churches are constantly searching for ways to reach people for Christ. Sometimes those methods are effective, but often they seem to fall flat, and the search continues for something that will work. My Hope has seen amazing results in 57 countries since 2002: On average worldwide, at least two people make a commitment to Christ for every household that participates.
“It’s harder and harder to get people to come into the doors of the church,” said Eddie Robertson, minister of recreation and evangelism at First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, S.C. “My Hope excites me because it reaches people in the neighborhoods where they are living, and it helps our people to be mobilized to go out and recognize those around them who aren’t going to church, who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Pastors, churches and whole denominations are seeing the possibilities of My Hope.
“We’re really excited about partnering with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association,” said Lee Clamp, director of evangelism for the South Carolina Southern Baptist Convention. “We are pressing among our Baptist churches to see 500 churches in South Carolina do My Hope. Let’s begin to pray specifically that God would unleash the silent army that sits among our churches to begin to talk to people about Jesus.”
As values and morals seem to crumble on every side, we know the one true need of North American society is to turn to God. Join with believers across the continent in this great effort to share the hope of Jesus Christ, and pray that God will draw hundreds of thousands to salvation. ©2013 BGEA
HOW MY HOPE WORKS
- Churches register online at MyHopeWithBillyGraham.org.
- Pastors and church members get trained, either at the website above or at one of the dozens of training meetings being held around the country.
- Believers commit to becoming a “Matthew,” following the biblical example of the disciple Matthew who, after he met Jesus, threw a party so his friends could meet Jesus, too.
MY HOPE MATTHEWS FOLLOW FIVE SIMPLE STEPS:
- LOOK AROUND to identify friends, neighbors and family members who don’t know Christ, and write their names on a “Matthew list” provided by BGEA.
- LOOK UP and pray daily for each person on your list.
- LOOK OUT for opportunities to build stronger relationships with these people, being transparent about your relationship with Christ.
- LOOK FORWARD to the event in November: Prepare spiritually for your get-together, and also plan whether your gathering will include a full meal or a light snack, where you will meet and how you will arrange furniture. Invite every person on your list. Watch the My Hope program, which will be available in multiple formats, including TV, DVDs, downloads and webstreaming. Share your own three-minute testimony. Ask if your guests would like to receive Christ as Lord and Savior.
- LOOK AFTER those who give their lives to Christ, and help them grow in their faith.
HOW MY HOPE BENEFITS CHURCHES
- Believers trained in relational evangelism as a lifestyle.
- Believers learn how to share their own story of faith.
- Those who commit their lives to Christ through My Hope often begin to attend the church whose members hosted the event.
- Principles not limited to My Hope; churches can continue to use them, thus keeping members active in sharing their faith.