Among the many Christian ministries and denominations lending support to My Hope With Billy Graham is the Mission America Coalition, which grew out of the Lausanne movement and is made up of some 500 evangelical ministries. Mission America challenges Christians to adopt a lifestyle of “prayer, care, share.” In this article, Paul Cedar, chairman/CEO of the Mission America Coalition, explains how My Hope meshes perfectly with this kind of evangelistic lifestyle.
My wife, Jeannie, and I moved 16 years ago from Minneapolis, Minn., to the California desert. Jeannie had had a neighborhood ministry going where we lived, so when we moved, I told her, “Honey, regardless of how busy I am, how much I’m traveling, I want to be involved with you in our neighborhood.”
So we began to prayer walk. We were living in a newer neighborhood, so most people didn’t know each other. But as we prayed, the Lord opened one door after another.
Some new neighbors moved in across the street. They were very friendly, but when the man found out that I was a “minister type,” he backed off. Then one day, as Jeannie and I were working in our front yard, he came out and started talking with us.
“You know, Paul, I had an unusual experience last weekend,” he said. “I went on a men’s retreat with my brother’s church.”
“How did you enjoy it?” I asked.
“It was wonderful,” he said. Then he added, “I wonder if you could help me with something. I don’t know much about the Bible. Could you help me find a Bible study?”
“I’d love to,” I said. “In fact, Jeannie and I have been thinking about starting a neighborhood Bible study. Why don’t you and your wife come over for dinner sometime this week, and we can talk about it?”
So we started the Bible study. Over the next few months, not only did he come to Christ, his wife recommitted her life to Christ, and a couple of other neighbors we invited also came to faith in Christ.
We have learned that when we begin to pray for lost people, God works in their hearts, to woo them and draw them. It’s like Jesus said: “No one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him” (John 6:65).
Over these years, we’ve seen several neighbors come to faith in Christ. It has been such a joy. With my ministry across the nation, one of my most meaningful ministries is here in our own neighborhood—praying, caring and sharing.
And that’s a major reason why we’re so excited about My Hope With Billy Graham. For many Christians, sharing their faith is the greatest challenge. My Hope offers a special opportunity that’s simple but powerful. First, we pray for neighbors, friends and family members who have never come to faith in Christ. Second, we love them as God gives opportunity, every way we can. Finally, we invite them to our home for a special harvest opportunity, as Billy Graham proclaims the Gospel on television.
Let’s consider these three stages and how God can work through each.
First, Scripture tells us: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We should pray for all people, and for the opportunity to love them, care for them and share the Gospel with them.
Second, the great commandment is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. That is not a suggestion from our Lord; it’s a commandment. And this is not an approach where in week one we pray for someone, in week two we do something nice for them, and in week three we dump the Gospel on them. This is a lifestyle. And for some people, it takes much longer than others. We have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. That’s the great thing about beginning now with My Hope. We can begin to pray that God will prepare their hearts.
Third, the “share” part comes from the Great Commission. Don’t drop out at this point! Look for opportunities. We might invite friends to a service or an evangelistic outreach, or we might share with them a video, a Christian book or “Steps to Peace With God.” There are many vehicles. But with My Hope, we are given a very powerful, effective vehicle.
We live in a day when it’s increasingly rare to be invited into someone else’s home. Hospitality tends to take place in restaurants or other places outside the home. So one of the great strengths of My Hope, in my opinion, is that we pay a compliment to people by inviting them into our home to be our guest, and we break bread together in some way, whether it’s a barbecue or a pizza night or a regular meal.
There’s always a risk when we invite someone to our home, no matter what the event. They might say no! But remember, when we begin to pray, God moves in powerful ways. God can, and I believe will, move in hearts and woo and draw people to come and to be a part of an evening like this.
At a time when our nation is declining in so many ways, and spiritual darkness seems to be growing, the light of Jesus Christ can shine in dark places. I pray that My Hope With Billy Graham will be catalytic in engaging thousands of Christians to share their faith in a natural, simple, powerful way, and in bringing about a great, great spiritual harvest. ©2012 BGEA
Find helpful resources and encouragement for telling friends and family about Christ. Visit Ruth’s Attic online store at BillyGrahamBookstore.org.