For more than 60 years, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has worked to take the Good News of Jesus to all corners of the world. BGEA’s 2011 ministry theme, “Sowing the Seeds of the Gospel,” melds modern methods with the timeless biblical principles of Luke 8. Like the planter in the parable told by Jesus, we are looking for fertile ground to sow seeds of the Gospel.
“The Gospel is a living seed,” said Preston Parrish, Executive Vice President of Ministries at BGEA. “When this message is proclaimed and sown into hearts and lives, God blesses it as He blesses no other message. The seed of the Gospel bears fruit in the form of changed lives.”
As BGEA moves into another decade of ministry, our goal was–and is–to plant the Gospel message into the hearts of those around the world. Our hope is that we will reap a harvest of spiritual fruit as we see lives lived for Christ and people confident in the assurance of Heaven.
Yet the sowing of these seeds will not be without challenges. Perhaps the greatest imminent challenge is the Haiti Festival of Hope January 8-9 in Port-au-Prince.
“It will have been almost one year after the earthquake, and the physical devastation is still very great–especially with the recent cholera outbreak,” explained Parrish. “Many months ago, Franklin (Graham) was asked to come and do this Festival. The church leaders there felt like it was the moment of all moments to proclaim the Gospel. This is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the spiritual landscape of that country.”
Sowing Seeds Through Multiple Ministry Layers
Gospel seeds have been sown in Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake as Rapid Response Team chaplains have been on the ground ministering to the victims. Additionally, many Haitian children received Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift distribution just last month.
There are also plans to do My Hope World Evangelism Through Television broadcasts in Haiti later this year as “Matthews” will invite friends and family to watch evangelistic programming and sow seeds of the Gospel in their lives.
“We don’t just want to be in and out of a community in a few days or even months. We want to be involved in places where we can work with the local Christians over a period of time to grow the church in that place,” said Parrish.
Uruguay is an example of a place where BGEA has sown seeds of the Gospel and has realized the fruit of life transformation. Several years ago, many children received Operation Christmas Child gift shoeboxes. Later, My Hope broadcasts took place in homes throughout Uruguay after the culmination of training, prayer and logistical preparations.
In 2009, Franklin Graham came to Montevideo to preach the Gospel at a Festival of Hope, and in 2010, Will Graham, son of Franklin Graham, visited the country to deliver the Gospel message.
Through these means, the church in Uruguay has grown. The desire of BGEA is to do multi-faceted efforts in many of the countries reached with the Gospel.
Sowing Seeds Through Technology
Along with physical presence, BGEA will use innovative methods of sowing the seeds of the Gospel through technology. While the Gospel message remains the same, BGEA plans to be innovative in the way it is spread.
“The Internet gives us the most potential to reach around the world with the Gospel. We can reach more people in one day than we would be able to reach in 10 years otherwise,” said Ken Barun, Executive Vice President of Communications for BGEA. “And we want to do more than just reach people with the Gospel; we want to follow up. We want to connect new believers to a church and help them find a place to cultivate their personal relationships with Christ.”
Along with Internet evangelism, social media will be another key focus for 2011. “Research shows us that 96 percent of baby boomers use social media. That’s an enormous number. We need to address that and go where people are, and we need to use every tool we have to proclaim the Gospel,” he said.
Thought BGEA has more tools than ever to spread the message of Jesus Christ, it is not without challenges. “There are lots of ideas on the table, lots of information available to us, and the latest technology. But we’ve got really focus on getting resources through prayer. We are praying for the Lord to show us His priorities and for Him to provide the resources necessary to carry those priorities out,” said Barun.
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You are an important part of our ministry as we sow seeds of the Gospel in countries like Haiti. Click here to make an eternal difference in a desperate world.
Help Us Reap a Spiritual Harvest
As we live in spiritually desperate times, BGEA welcomes all who are willing and able to partner in the work of the Gospel–whether it is through prayer, giving or volunteering. The times in which we are living call for aggressive action in the name of Jesus Christ.
Billy Graham, when asked about his innovative ministry over the years, often said the three most important ingredients to effective evangelism were “Prayer, prayer and more prayer.” As the organization bearing his name moves into its seventh decade of active ministry, that timeless truth remains at the heart of our efforts.
“We are asking people to intercede for God’s help, blessing, protection provision as we go into this Gospel initiative for 2011. This is not a passive, timid array of efforts,” said Parrish. “We need prayer, because this is a spiritual battle. We cannot do this in the cleverness, energy or resources of the flesh. We need Heaven’s help.”