My Hope Puerto Rico, which is the culmination of a year-long project to mobilize Christians, was the island’s largest evangelistic outreach in its history. More than 19,000 Christians representing over 1,800 churches hosted small gatherings in their homes. The hosts are called “Matthews.” The home meetings began Thursday, April 22 and concluded Saturday, April 24.
Preparations for the outreach began nearly a year ago, as Christian leaders shared their vision and invited churches to participate. Leaders from three different ministries that represent the majority of the island’s evangelical population had visited Brazil during a My Hope outreach in 2008 and desired to implement the project in Puerto Rico.
At the home meetings, guests watched one of three nationwide TV programs, which include sermons from Billy and Franklin Graham. The programs also featured testimonies from famous Puerto Ricans, including former Major League Baseball player Carlos Baerga; Hector El Father, known as the father of reggaeton; and comedian Yasmin Mejias, who was also a Puerto Rican senator.
After viewing the program, the hosts shared their own stories of coming to faith and inviting guests to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. Follow-up efforts will help these new believers become involved in a local church body.
Local leaders even got involved. The Mayor of the city of Toa Baja, Aníbal Vega Borges, organized a truck with large speakers on it to drive around the neighborhoods in the town announcing the project. The recording said, “Citizens of Toa Baja, visit a Matthew home nearest you to watch the special program, Mi Esperanza.” There were also video boards in town announcing the programs.
Word got around, and lives changed. At the Iglesia Critsiana Emanuel in Juncos there was a youth service attended by 60 non-believers. “We did several dramas, worshiped God and watched the My Hope Project. It was incredible…over 25 youth accepted Christ as Savior,” said Roxana, a local host. “There was an amazing presence of God and at the end of the service we had a party, worshiping God for the victory he gave us!”
Gloria, another host, told us why she is investing her home, her time and her prayers in My Hope. Her twin sister began going to church since she was 12. “She was always praying for me, because I lived a hectic life. I didn’t find time in my life for anything else, especially God,” said Gloria. Her sister kept on praying for her. One day, I knew then the Lord was calling my name when I agreed to go to church with my sister.” That day, Gloria prayed to receive Christ.
Through a series of events over time, her husband came to know and love Christ. Just this past weekend, they passed that same knowledge and love to others as Matthews. “My wish has been to impact people with my testimony of a God that transforms and renews and brings hope and peace. We have to testify to others.”
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Here are more examples of the fruit of God’s work in Puerto Rico (from Thursday, April 22):
Last Minute…But Perfect Timing
Fiordaliza was worried when none of her invitees confirmed that they would come. While she was preparing the food, two teams of young people knocked on every door of her apartment building and went out to t he streets to invite people to her gathering.
A few minutes before the program started, five guests showed up at her home for the broadcast. Two of them appeared to be gang members, which scared her. To break the ice, she organized a short game, and everyone relaxed before watching the program. The “gang members” made fun of the program, but when Billy Graham began talking about sin, they got quiet and focused on the program.
The young men’s eyes filled with tears when they heard Billy Graham say that Jesus saw us with love when He was dying on the cross. When Flordaliza gave her testimony and an invitation to receive Christ, all five of those last-minute invitees began their new lives in Jesus. Now, those people are coming back on Friday and Saturday night…with friends in tow.
The Testimony of a Changed Life
A young woman who has been a Christian for only two months organized a meeting in her sister’s home (the sister, who was a municipal policewoman, died six months ago of a sudden brain aneurysm). Eight neighbors came and watched the program intently, and began positively discussing the program immediately after. The host waited until there was a pause, then she gave her testimony of how through her sister’s death, in her desperation, she cried out to the Lord for salvation. She told of how He is changing her and of the hope she now has.
A neighbor man commented, “You are really changing!” Three people stood when she invited the guests to receive Christ. She prayed with them, and plans take them to church on Sunday.
Here are a few more quick updates from the weekend.
- A couple took pills to commit suicide. Immediately after they did that, they tuned in to the TV program. Their hearts were moved by the Holy Spirit, so they called the phone number provided for counseling. Not only did they accept Christ as Savior – they vomited the pills while they were praying.
- Neida had recently received a critical operation and was awaiting a priest who never showed up. As it turns out, it was a divine appointment for him not to show up. She turned on the television, began watching the program, and called to receive Christ as Savior.
- A man with a drug addiction called. Though he had received Christ before, he moved from his city, fell away from God, and started taking drugs. He reached the call center, crying, “I’m scared.” He prayed for reconciliation with his Lord and was able to experience the peace and security only God could give him.
For the follow-up efforts in Puerto Rico to be successful, and that the new followers of Christ will get involved in a local body of believers and grow in their faith.
Although the broadcasts are over, it is not too late to join in and pray for My Hope in Puerto Rico. “Dr. Graham says the root of everything we do is prayer. God’s faithfulness is shown by how He takes the minimal amount resources and multiplies them… like Jesus did the fishes and loaves,” said Greg Matthews, Director for My Hope Latin America.
“This is an island with four million people, so we are limited on how many people we (My Hope team) can touch. We touch about 100 coordinators. Those coordinators reach out to pastors, who train the Matthews in their churches. That chain is held together by the power of the Holy Spirit to make something happen at the end. God honors the Gospel.”