“Nobody has lights,” Fred Durston said, recalling a scene that could be found in most rural Malawi towns. “The only light we had was on my cell phone.”
Electricity, common if you’re within a couple miles of a highway or main road, is about as scarce as spreading the Gospel in this country. That is, until My Hope took root in 2010.
Over 64,000 trained “Matthews” engaged in the project, igniting this African nation on fire for Christ in November of 2010.
For Durston, the excitement was palpable. He remembers that night, the sunlight quickly fading into the edges of the sky.
Earlier that day, a notice was posted in town that a Gospel program would be aired on radio at sundown. And to bring your friends.
Sundown was now happening. Within minutes, all would be dark, setting the stage for this 30-minute radio-specific My Hope program.
“We laid some mats down and the women and children sat on them, then the guys came and stood around,” Durston said. “Next thing you know, there’s 44 people there. And that was just to listen to the program.”
Men, women and children listened closely to the message of Salvation, and shortly after a brief testimony and invitation, 17 commitments to Christ were made in the pitch dark.
“As soon as they ask, do you want to make a decision, the arms go up,” Durston said. “Because the Gospel has been presented so clearly.
“It brings them to the point of saying yes or no.”
My Hope has officially ended, but the crusade in Malawi is just beginning in some ways.
Picking up where My Hope left off, the International Film Ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is taking full root.
“After My Hope, there is a heightened opportunity to use TV or films,” Bill Conard, BGEA Vice President of International Ministries said.
During the weekend My Hope broadcast, there were 40 small battery-powered projectors in use across Malawi. 20 of those projectors are now being used to show additional BGEA outreach programs in some of the most rural areas of the country, and also in prisons.
“This just helps us extend it,” Durston said. “It gives us the ability to carry the Gospel visually to people who haven’t had the chance to hear it. A clear presentation of the Gospel.”
The timing of launching IFM on the heels of My Hope is somewhat of a new concept but makes a lot of sense. The pastors and “Matthews” have caught the vision and are passionate about carrying the message of hope and salvation to the ends of their earth.
“What you see in their eyes, when you look at their faces, it’s like they will move heaven and earth to spread the Gospel,” Durston said. “Their hearts are so burdened for these lost people.”
Durston is confident that every additional projector that’s given to the IFM program in Malawi will be used over and over as the Gospel message is proclaimed to every corner.
Whether there’s electricity or not.
“They have such a burden to get the message to those people who have not heard,” Durston said. “We’ve given them the material, we’ve implemented a program that they see works, and they just want to take that and run with it.”
Each small battery-powered projector set costs $700 USD. The average viewing audience is 55 people, and the projectors can be used nearly every night.