A popular Netflix TV series about Queen Elizabeth II called The Crown includes a particular episode in the second season that features her friendship with my father. It depicts, among other things, the queen asking my father serious questions about Christian forgiveness. That episode has generated considerable interest and conversation in the media.
My father has had a long relationship with Queen Elizabeth and others in her family, beginning in the 1950s, and I have heard him comment that she is a believer in Christ. The two of them had meaningful discussions over the years on spiritual issues. We don’t know details, because my father has a strict policy of maintaining the confidentiality of private conversations with world leaders during their lifetime.
Questions about forgiveness are real and universal. Followers of Jesus Christ who have received God’s forgiveness are taught in His Word to also forgive others. The Bible says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, NKJV). Jesus Himself taught us to pray, “Forgive us our sins even as we forgive those who sin against us.” But many times that’s not easy, is it?
I can’t help but remember what happened almost three years ago in Charleston, S.C., at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, after white supremacist Dylann Roof massacred nine people inside the church. With the world watching, relatives of victims one by one offered their forgiveness to the murderer. Rev. Anthony B. Thompson said, “I forgive him, and I’m not going [to] take that back ever.” How can that be? Only through Jesus Christ. This is a powerful demonstration of what happens when Christ comes into a person’s heart, forgiving and transforming that person. I thank God for the Christians in this church who chose to forgive. It was an encouragement to me and an example to all of us.
God has opened up many doors in 2018 for us to preach the Good News of forgiveness and salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. It will be a busy year as we already have 40 cities on four continents on the schedule. One place the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has never held an evangelistic Crusade is in Portugal, and I’m excited to go there in April to preach the Gospel.
Then in May, I will be going to the West Coast—starting in California and going up to Oregon and Washington—to pierce the “blue wall.” The media made a big deal during the last election season about what they called the “blue wall.” We want to pierce the blue wall, not for politics, but for the Gospel. To me, the blue wall represents some of the most secular areas of our country, and I want to take the truth of the Gospel there.
California has the highest population of any state in the country, and less than a third of the people profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The situation is not much different in Oregon and Washington. In each of the 17 cities on the tour, we’ll gather to pray for the state and the nation, I will call on believers to take a bold stand for Christ, and I will invite nonbelievers to repentance and faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ. I’m looking forward to seeing what God will do.
God is also working in powerful ways through our Search for Jesus internet evangelism ministry. Over the last 12 months, people living in 226 different countries and territories have visited our interactive websites to explore the message of the Gospel—and we thank God that thousands every day indicate on the websites that they are making a decision for Christ. We have this in four of the five languages with the most users on the internet worldwide—English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic—and we need your prayers as we prepare to expand to Chinese.
As we start this new year, I want to thank you for your prayers and your financial support—we couldn’t do this work without you. My father would want me to thank you as well for faithfully standing with us. He was born in 1918 and has now entered his 100th year. Although his mind is still good, he’s not able to get around anymore. He lives about two hours away, and I go to see him nearly every weekend. He is confined to his bed and his wheelchair, but we are grateful to God that he is still with us.
Vast numbers of people around the world have no idea how to receive God’s true and lasting forgiveness. They need Jesus Christ. Thank you for all you do to help us tell them.
May God richly bless you,