In the mid-1970s, Billy Graham helped organize an international conference on evangelism. About 3,000 church leaders from around the world gathered in Lausanne, Switzerland, and were so moved that they wanted to keep the meetings going.
Today, the U.S.-based leaders make up the Mission America Coalition. Many of them traveled to Mr. Graham’s hometown in Charlotte, N.C., for their latest meeting at the Billy Graham Library and BGEA headquarters Feb. 18-19. They talked about Love2020, a God-centered initiative with a God-sized goal:
“By the year 2020, virtually every person living in the United States—man, woman, young person and child—would be authentically loved by at least one Christian who is living the prayer, care, share lifestyle,” Mission America Chairman Paul Cedar explained.
Mission America has nearly 400 members from churches, ministries and Christian groups around the country. These members strive to live a lifestyle they call “prayer, care, share”—praying for nonbelievers, caring for them and sharing the Gospel with them.
Mr. Graham has always been known for two things—prayer and evangelism, Library Vice President Tom Phillips said. That, along with his history with Mission America, made the Billy Graham Library and BGEA an ideal location for a group meeting. About 150 leaders participated.
“It’s always exciting to be in a room of people who are excited about the vision of sharing the love of God,” Kay Horner said.
Horner is executive director of the Awakening America Alliance based in Cleveland, Tenn. The Library tour reaffirmed her faith, she said, and it inspired her to know “that a little farmer’s son from North Carolina can impact the world.” God can use anyone who’s willing to follow Him, she said.
Mission America is full of people just like that—people ready and willing to follow where God leads. The coalition is divided into subgroups to focus on ways He can use their time, talents and ideas to reach others. Subgroups focus on areas like marriage and family, people with disabilities, the arts and so on.
“We’re willing to put aside logos and egos and do kingdom work together,” Horner said.
The Library didn’t just provide a location for the coalition to meet, but encouraged and motivated Christians in their faith, Phillips said. It’s also a ministry, an ongoing evangelistic Crusade, where hundreds have given their lives to Christ over the years.
“I wept,” Ted Baehr said after the tour.
Baehr, founder and publisher of Movieguide, took the Library tour for the first time with his son, Robert. The father and son work together at California-based Movieguide, a magazine that analyzes movies from a biblical perspective.
It’s a job that Baehr wouldn’t have dreamed of many years ago. His sister and her husband surrendered their lives to Christ at the 1957 New York Crusade, but Ted refused to go forward. Years later, three women who also gave their lives to Christ at that Crusade led Baehr to faith. Now, he begins each day with prayer, one of Mission America’s core values.
Cedar, a former BGEA Crusade director, said he sees Mission America and Love2020 as an extension of what BGEA is doing to reach people with the Good News of Christ. During BGEA’s My Hope America with Billy Graham event in November, Cedar and his wife invited several friends over to watch Billy Graham’s new message, “The Cross.” Like Mission America, My Hope is all about praying for nonbelievers, building relationships with them and telling them about Christ. And the work is never done.
In college, Cedar said, he started praying for two friends. One gave his life to Christ a long time ago, and the other one, about 50 years later, still hasn’t.
“So what does it mean?” Cedar asked. “It means you keep praying and you keep loving.”