“With all my heart, I want to leave you with the truth,” Billy Graham will tell viewers gathered in living rooms, dormitories, churches, movie theaters and prison cells Nov. 7-10, as he shares the hope of Christ with the masses for what could be the last time.
The evangelist and “pastor to the presidents” will turn 95 years old on Thursday. After traveling the world and preaching the Gospel for six decades, all he wanted for his birthday was the chance to share the message of Jesus with his home continent one more time.
This Thursday through Sunday, he’ll get that chance. More than 500 television stations will air Mr. Graham’s 30-minute program, “The Cross,” as the evangelistic outreach My Hope with Billy Graham culminates in every state, province and territory in the U.S. and Canada.
“The Cross” will be broadcast on 115 network television stations from Honolulu to New York City, along with 20 national Christian networks and 370 individual Christian TV stations.
A Spanish version of the video will also be broadcast on several national and local channels.
But the most widely viewed showing is expected to be the nationwide broadcast on Fox News (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) Thursday, November 7. Fox News will re-air the program at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT Sunday, November 10, as well.
“By the program being on Fox News as well as other cable networks and hundreds of affiliates, we believe the message of “The Cross,” as presented by Billy Graham on his 95th birthday, will be accessible to anyone who cares to view it,” said Preston Parrish, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s (BGEA) vice president of My Hope.
More than 28,000 churches across North America have registered to be part of the My Hope movement, which calls on believers to build relationships with friends and family members who don’t know Jesus, pray for them daily and invite them to watch the video this week.
“These churches are giving us projections that they are anticipating a quarter million home gatherings or more in conjunction with the airing and distribution of Mr. Graham’s new message, ‘The Cross,'” Parrish said. “It has truly become the largest undertaking of the BGEA ever in North America.”
Christians of different denominations, ages and cultural backgrounds have embraced My Hope as a clear, concise and powerful way to share the Gospel.
Many believers have come up with creative ways to get the message out in both large-group and intimate settings.
Some churches in Jacksonville, Fl., are teaming up to host a My Hope showing at a local drive-in theater. Two churches outside Tuscon, Ariz., banded together to show the video inside a nearby community center. A South Carolina man is inviting his hunting buddies over for a wild game dinner where they’ll watch Mr. Graham’s message.
“We don’t know of anything quite like this that has ever taken place in our nation, where so many individuals are focusing at the same time on sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with people they care about in their homes and other friendly settings,” Parrish said. “That is going to have a great impact indeed, not only on individuals but on our nation.”
When the BGEA secured a coast-to-coast My Hope broadcast on Fox News, the scope of the project grew from large-scale to massive. But long before any promise of a national telecast, My Hope was a grassroots movement that blossomed in churches around the country.
Since the beginning, Billy Graham’s events have started and ended with the local church. Before every Crusade, churches helped spread the word, train thousands of volunteers and fill the stadiums with people who needed to hear the Gospel.
When the last stadium lights went dark and Mr. Graham moved onto the next city, the local churches were there, welcoming and supporting new believers who just accepted Christ the night before.
My Hope may not be a traditional Crusade, but it still relies heavily on the Church.
Since the idea to hold My Hope in North America was born nearly two years ago, the BGEA has been sharing Mr. Graham’s vision with churches. All across the nation, pastors passed that vision onto their congregations, where people found all sorts of ways to run with it.
Rick and Tina Lugo attend Calvary Chapel Lone Mountain in Las Vegas. They’ve been planning to host a My Hope event at their home since last June, when their pastor first told the congregation about the project.
Following the My Hope model, Rick and Tina made a list of people in their lives who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. For months, they’ve been building closer relationships and praying for each person on the list.
This Thursday, they’ll have a My Hope party at their home for their immediate family. They’re planning to watch the national broadcast on Fox News. The following night, they’ll do it all over again.
“Friday night, we’re doing it with all the other neighbors and people God laid on our heart to invite,” Tina said.
Their biggest dilemma is choosing which video to show. BGEA produced three different half-hour programs for the My Hope project, which all include Billy Graham’s presentation of the Gospel.
The first video, called “Defining Moments” features the true stories of music artist Lacey Sturm, illusionist Jim Munroe and NFL player David Tyree. “Defining Moments” tells a powerful story of redemption and has quickly become a favorite of many My Hope participants who plan to show the video this week.
The second video, geared towards young adults, is called “Lose to Gain.” It features pro-skateboarder Brian Sumner, comedian Michael Jr., and a young woman named Shannon Culpepper.
The final My Hope program is called “The Cross.” The flagship video for the project, “The Cross” is the one that will be shown on Fox News Nov. 7 and on various other channels throughout the week. It features the amazing true stories of Lacey Sturm and rapper Lecrae, each of whom experienced powerful, life-changing encounters with Jesus Christ.
“My husband actually might show two of the DVDs,” Tina said. “He can’t pick between them. They’re so powerful.”
After the videos, Tina, Rick and their two sons are prepared to share three-minute versions of why they decided to follow Jesus and invite their friends and neighbors to make decisions for Christ. All across North America, thousands of believers will be doing the same thing.
“My Hope has truly become a relationship-based grassroots effort on a massive scale,” Parrish said. “And we are anticipating and praying that God is going to give an unprecedented evangelistic harvest through it.”
With a national broadcast approaching and a media blitz in full swing, My Hope has indeed grown to massive proportions, but Parrish says it’s important to remember what the movement is really about.
“At the heart of it is individual people who love Christ, sharing with people they care about, the message that can change those individuals’ lives forever.”