Nearly four decades ago, 350 Albuquerque churches joined together to support the second Billy Graham Crusade in New Mexico. Those eight days in March of 1975, which saw more than 1,000 people come to Christ every night, comprised the last time Billy Graham preached in “The Duke City.”
That is, until November of this year, when a special broadcast program, featuring a message from Billy Graham, culminates the My Hope America with Billy Graham nationwide evangelistic campaign.
In a way, what happened last week at Calvary Albuquerque, pastored by Skip Heitzig, was decades in the making. Pastors and church leaders from across the region gathered together to learn about My Hope America and pray for revival in their city and state. Through My Hope America, many are anticipating thousands of individuals across the region opening their own homes for a Gospel presentation.
“My Hope America with Billy Graham is nationwide outreach that equips individuals to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with their friends and family,” Robert T. Schlipp, Southwest Regional Coordinator for My Hope America. “It helps each of us to do what Jesus called us to do, to go and make disciples.”
“One of the things that occurs in Christendom is people come to the Lord, and statistically speaking, within a few years most of their relationships outside of the church have faded away and they are living inside the ‘bubble,’ inside the church,” said Nelson Walker, assistant pastor of Calvary Albuquerque and key organizer of the My Hope America meeting.
“The purpose is to get people back into their communities, talking to their neighbors, their friends, their coworkers. People who would not normally accept a church invitation will often accept a dinner invitation.
“We are trying to break out of the bubble, and go back into the community. We are seeking to reach back into the communities with the Gospel of Christ.”
According to Walker, the difficulty Christians have in breaking the proverbial bubble is that they are asked to do things they have never done before. They’ve never practiced. The My Hope America preparation meetings help Christians get more comfortable talking to people they already encounter on a daily basis. It’s about developing and using relationships we already have to reach people for Christ.
“For me, the relationships are crucial,” said Coulter Prehm, a youth pastor in Sante Fe who attended the My Hope America meeting. “To open the door so you are not just getting converts, but you are getting people who are actually seeing Jesus living through you.
“We spend a lot of time seriously praying for the Kingdom to come in this nation, in Sante Fe, in Albuquerque and in the state. I hope that, along with the other efforts that are being made across the country, that this could be something that starts a fire where Christians are feeling empowered by Jesus … to be the change that everyone is saying that we need.”
In New Mexico, the meetings at Calvary Albuquerque not only crossed denominational lines, but also language barriers, which is important in the communities represented in New Mexico. Pastors and church leaders from across the state, both English and Spanish-speaking, joined together to pray for evangelism and opportunities to see a revival across the country, starting in their own communities.
“My Hope is for all denominations,” said Horace Gill, a former pastor who attended the meeting. “It’s all about Jesus Christ and bringing people to Jesus Christ.”
Another meeting in preparation for My Hope will take place in Albuquerque on April 13 at Hoffmantown Church. But, there are other meetings being held across the country. You can find one near you, or sign up and go through the training online. Join us as we take the Gospel across the United States and Canada this year.