My Hope UK is a national initiative to encourage and equip the local church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Easter is coming, and Billy Graham’s half-hour message, The Cross, is an appropriate resource for this time of year.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) reports that over 67,000 DVDs have been requested by 11,550 churches and ministries across the UK, and the numbers are increasing every day. That’s almost a quarter of all of our nation’s churches.
Some churches in Thurrock have taken a copy of The Cross, but only a couple have begun to use it yet as a tool in their mission, outreach and evangelism.
Grays Baptist Church recently reported a number of re-commitments as the congregation watched the The Cross together one Sunday morning. Has your fellowship made use of this wonderful free resource yet?
If anyone has doubts about the effectiveness of this form of communicating the message of Jesus, then please read these four stories from across the country. Many are coming to faith, and many are returning to their first love.
When a congregation prays in Surrey
St John’s Egham decided to show The Cross at a special extra Sunday evening event at the start of December. About a month before, they handed out prayer cards to the congregation and suggested they pray for their friends and family in the lead up to the event. Two weeks before, two Billy Graham films were shown at their regular Sunday Services. Vicar, Rev. Jeff Wattley saw the response: “The vibrant and touching testimonies from the people featured in the life stories, combined with the timeless wisdom and evangelistic heart of Billy Graham brought home the love of God in a tangible way.”
Then when it came to the evening, the church was prepared to be very welcoming, with refreshments and comfortable seating for the showing of the main film. Almost 100 people attended the event, probably half of whom were not regular congregation. Nine of these newly invited people came forward afterwards to receive evangelistic booklets. People were on hand to offer prayer and encouragement. Some waited until they were leaving to ask for booklets.
One of the people who responded is shortly to renew baptismal vows by full immersion. Jeff was very encouraged. “What encourages me most is the willingness of the congregation to invite guests and the readiness of guests to accept these invitations,” he said. “Of course some decline, but even being invited can be part of the journey towards faith.”
When a Pastor sees The Cross on TV in Manchester
Glyn Barrett, Pastor of !Audacious church, Manchester, saw The Cross on TV and decided, “Going into a brand new year, we wanted to empower our church to see people making decisions for Jesus as a real priority. What better way, than for Billy Graham himself to inspire the church to have a renewed passion, and urgency for the Gospel being preached. The Cross not only became a great tool for people to invite their friends, but more so, an opportunity at the start of a brand new year, to make the main thing, the main thing! Hearing the Gospel so clearly communicated, and the stories of transformation captured everyone’s heart and passion to see their friends come to know Jesus this year.”
During the three showings of The Cross on the first Sunday in January, over 1,500 came, and many people made a first time decision for Jesus. Glyn reports “By the end of the month we saw 270 people give their lives to Jesus. The Cross was a catalyst in this amount of salvations.”
Looking forward, Glyn wants to encourage the UK Church. “My Hope with Billy Graham is a great way for churches to present the Gospel clearly in communication, and excellently in delivery and production,” he says.
“Often the Church has been known for being old, or irrelevant, but My Hope with Billy Graham is so excellently produced, that it is not only accessible for all people, but also powerful in its undiluted communication of the greatest story, that of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
When a young girl watches The Cross near Montrose
A young girl in our youth group is deeply into politics. She was so inspired watching Billy in The Cross that she said, “I could do that! I could give up politics and do what he’s doing!”
The youth leaders explained that she’d have to become a Christian first.
The next week, the young girl arrived again and told us she’d gone home the previous week and spent two hours watching Billy on YouTube. We had decided to watch another video of Billy that week and at the end she went to speak to one of the leaders. In the course of her chat she said that the previous week she’d wanted to go home and think about it, and now wondered if she’d missed her chance. The leader then asked if she wanted to pray the prayer and she was led to the Lord. Fantastic!
When the Church steps out to help people in need
A lady was referred to the local church-based Christians Against Poverty centre by a support worker at the children’s centre her children attended. The lady was heavily into occult practices and had self-harmed in the past. She had shut herself away from life, had not been able to deal with her emotions or debts, and her children were scared to be in the house because of the darkness hanging over it. Christians against Poverty organised a Christmas hamper event. After the lady watched The Cross and the centre manager gave her testimony, so similar to her own, she accepted Jesus into her life.
When the Church shows The Cross to explain why they feed the hungry in Blackpool
Outreach Coordinator, Yvonne Blazey and her team at the “Helping Hands in Blackpool” drop-in soup kitchen have a heart for the least in their community. They supply a three course meal to those on low incomes and the homeless on Wednesday, Saturdays and Fridays. “Our aim is to preach the love of God in word and actions, and help people to move on. Many do find Jesus and move onto local churches families,” shares Yvonne.
The Cross was shown at one of the Wednesday afternoon sessions to 30 men, mostly non-believers.
One man committed his life to the Lord Jesus that afternoon, another asked for a Bible and many started to ask questions. “Four of our clients have renewed their baptismal vows, so God was at work and is still watering the seeds which have been planted. I hope this encourages others, as it certainly did us.” I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me. Matthew 25:40
When the DVD player doesn’t work, but someone has been praying
Crag Road Methodist Church in Shipley decided that they would like to use the film but didn’t possess a screen, projector or DVD/laptop to play the DVD. So they borrowed from different churches the equipment needed to show ’The Cross’.
Due to an event on the Saturday all the equipment had to packed away and put back out on the Sunday ready for the showing. With about 28 in the church ready and eager to see the film, it wouldn’t work. Not a DVD issue but a technical glitch with the laptop.
In such a challenging situation, one of the Stewards, Jenny stood up and gave her testimony about the impact Christ had had on her life, different Billy Graham events over the years and how the message had remained unchanged. This prompted others to share their testimonies about God’s faithfulness.
At the end of the service, candles were placed in to the shape of a cross and an invitation given for those who wanted to rededicate their lives or affirm their faith to come forward and light a candle.
All of the congregation came forward. David tells me that to get anyone out of their seats in the chapel and respond is a big thing – he was amazed that everyone responded.