Celebrating Our Freedom to Worship

By   •   July 2, 2010

“In the United States we assume that others have the same freedoms we enjoy, and it is simply not so” said Bill Conard, Director of My Hope at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “We have unique opportunities to live how we want and believe what we want. God gave us this gift through our forefathers.”

My Hope is a ministry that has been implemented in 50 countries. This ministry trains believers around the world to open their homes and share their faith with friends, family and neighbors through Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) TV broadcasts and videos.

This ministry is made up of two major components: media and relationships. “The combination of skillful use of media and relationship evangelism is what has allowed us to bring the Gospel to millions,” said Conard. “The real effect is when Christians are trained to share their testimonies, pray for people, and invite them into homes to watch the programming. That is where the project really takes root.”

Conard says this type of approach works in any environment: in the countries where the broadcasts can be done openly – and those where it cannot be done so freely.

For a person who truly wants to live for Christ, there is always pressure, even here in America – from government, universities, and even among families. While Christians who live in America face some level of persecution, it pales in comparison to other places in the world.

“In many places, like South America, Central America, and even some parts of Asia, we have great liberty in sharing the Gospel. Then there are other places where we have some difficulties. Some of it stems from the government of the particular place, but some of it comes from outside pressures, such as a majority religion, where the culture places pressure on an individual to comply with their norm.”

Conard tells of the remarkable protection of the Lord and commitment of one Christian in a particular nation. The man, a My Hope coordinator, lives in a country where many are hostile toward the Gospel. Two men approached him and threatened to kill him for promoting the broadcasts. The coordinator told the men that if they kill him, he would go to heaven, but that he is not sure they would. A week later, a flash flood happened and an avalanche buried the two men that threatened the coordinator’s life.

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“Attraction to Christ is so huge. He gives people forgiveness, peace, new hope and new relationships. Many people in some of these countries witness visions of the Lord that they could only describe if they had read Revelation chapter one,” said Conard. “They describe Jesus in their visions as dressed in gleaming white clothes and with a glowing face. This is how Revelation describes Him, yet these people haven’t read it. When they accept Jesus they cry for hours, because they have lived in such legalistic systems. They then want to share this new freedom with other people.”

Conard believes the most important thing we can do for religious liberty and for the advancement of the Gospel is pray. He tells of one of his favorite prayer spots in a successful My Hope country – India.

“Every time I visit India, I visit the St. Thomas Mount, where Thomas prayed in the first century, there I pray for the nations and for religious liberty around the world. I can’t help but believe that God is answering Thomas’ prayers from many years ago. God always answers prayers.”

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