I just want to say thank you. In the midst of the coronavirus and uncertainty, with an incredible amount of unrest around us, you make the continued proclamation of the Gospel possible.
In writing this letter, I have to be candid with you. As I watch what is happening around the world, it’s easy to get discouraged or even fearful. It seems the forces of darkness are winning battles daily.
>>More from Will Graham: Jesus dispels fear
We’ve seen waves of coronavirus recently, combined with rioting and civil unrest. Churches have closed their doors or trimmed their capacity. Personal connections have been limited with people afraid to venture out.
However, it’s also become clear to me that God is on the move in a way unlike anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. God is working to use these challenges and struggles to call the lost unto repentance and salvation. People are hungry for the eternal promises of Jesus, and God is giving us the opportunity to share His truth with them.
In the week leading up to the Fourth of July, I traveled to Rapid City, South Dakota, to hold a one-day conference called the Church Leaders Summit, a special time intended to encourage and equip more than 100 pastors from a six-state area.
While there, I took the opportunity to proclaim the hope of Christ through a live webcast. On July 1, from the Black Hills, I shared the parable of the Prodigal Son, and the meaning of true freedom.
You see, the son felt he had no freedom because he lived under his father’s rules. In essence, the son chose to no longer be a son. He took his inheritance and traveled to another country, where he could live a carefree life, free to make his own choices. And, for a while, he had fun.
A Prayer Line Story
Ellen,* who is 21 and seven months pregnant, got involved in a biker gang, hooked on drugs and alcohol. She quit substance abuse after becoming pregnant and searched for a way out of that lifestyle. A friend gave a Bible to her and said to look for a sign from God that would lead her to a new life. The same day, Ellen turned on the television and saw Franklin Graham’s TV spot. She called our toll-free line and prayed with a volunteer to receive Jesus Christ. The volunteer shared, “We celebrated for 20 minutes over the phone!”
* Name changed for privacy
However, his pursuit of freedom—life away from his father—left him enslaved in spiritual chains, impoverished, and living in a pigsty. He ultimately recognized that his “freedom” was bondage. He stood up and returned home, where his father welcomed him and restored him as a son.
That parable is a beautiful illustration of how God restores us and gives true freedom when we turn back to Him. True freedom doesn’t come from the lack of rules or a multitude of choices. Rather, it’s found in living for God the way He created you to be—in a personal relationship with Him.
Over 200,000 viewers from 45 different countries tuned in to watch the stream, and we praise God that many indicated a decision for Christ, returning back to Him.
A man watched the program from Massachusetts and then followed up with us online. He shared that he prayed for forgiveness and salvation, adding, “Wow! Thank you for your Blood, Jesus. I believe and—like Will Graham asked—I surrender my life to Jesus!” A trained volunteer then shared Biblical truth with him to help as he begins his new walk with Christ.
At the same time, my father, Franklin Graham, continues to air the Gospel message on television spots across the country, offering a hope-filled alternative to the present narrative of darkness and suffering. They miraculously reach the right people at the right place and the right time. Since the spots began airing in the early days of the pandemic, more than 150,000 have called us for prayer and discussion, and over 7,000 have surrendered their lives to Jesus!
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God is also at work within His church, strengthening and equipping His people. At the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina, where I serve as executive director, we are adapting to ministry in this strange time to build up fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We’ve returned to offering live seminars, with social distancing and other precautionary measures in place. It’s been wonderful to see people return to The Cove.
My friends, in many ways the world looks hopeless. Perhaps like the Prodigal Son, you feel like you’re in the pit with the swine. However, as Christians, we should “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind” (Romans 12:2, NKJV).
Yes, it’s easy to get caught up in the anxiety surrounding the coronavirus or civil unrest, but if your mind has been transformed by God’s Word, you have every reason to see this world not as hopeless, but hopeful.
I encourage you to continue to grow your faith, dig into the eternal truths of the Bible, and—like the Prodigal Son—draw near to your Father.
Thank you, and may God bless you for your faithfulness,