To Reach a Nation

By   •   February 27, 2007

That’s the question I asked Bob Pierce in 1975 when he took me on my first trip to India. Dr. Bob, the founder of Samaritan’s Purse and a longtime friend of my father, had invited me to accompany him on a trip to visit missionaries serving around the world. He was facing a terminal disease and knew this might be his last trip.

Bob and I were in Calcutta, the stifling city where Mother Teresa ministered to the sick and dying. Bob used to say there was more suffering per square foot in Calcutta than anywhere on earth. Some of the things we witnessed–such as priests sacrificing a goat and funeral pyres stacked with burning human bodies–are etched into my memory.

As vast and crowded and hopeless as Calcutta was, we knew it represented only a tiny fraction of the population of India, which back then was fast approaching a billion people. Now, experts say India will soon surpass China as the world’s most populous country.

“How do you reach a billion people with the Gospel?”

That question has haunted my mind since 1975. Over the years, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has made a lot of progress spreading the Gospel in India through Christian meetings and evangelistic training. The Church has been growing, but India has been growing even faster. We needed a comprehensive campaign to reach as many people as possible in this nation.

Just in the last couple of years, God has opened doors for us to bring our World TV Project, My Hope, into India.

We didn’t just go and buy television time. We engaged in intense prayer and preparation. Working through thousands of churches across India, we trained Christians in 800,000 homes to share their faith. We asked them to open their homes, prepare a meal and invite several friends and neighbors to watch evangelistic TV programs produced by BGEA. Then the hosts could offer their testimonies, share the Gospel and invite their guests to receive Christ as their Savior.

The broadcasts aired during prime time the week of Christmas 2005, and in early 2006 on Video CDs. Praise God–some four million people committed their lives to Christ. That’s about half of the people who were invited to watch the TV programs!

Many of these homes have started small group Bible studies, and new believers have been invited to church by those who helped lead them to Christ.

This past Christmas, we went back and presented My Hope all over again. We don’t have the numbers yet, but we are praying confidently that millions more have opened their hearts to Jesus.

“How do you reach a billion people with the Gospel?”

First, you realize that Jesus Christ loves them and died for them.

Second, you take seriously His parting words: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).

Finally, you use the tools He gives you. That includes the unprecedented reach of TV (widely available even in impoverished parts of India), the commitment of Indian believers who risk persecution to share the Gospel with their neighbors and the powerful prayers of God’s people.

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