“I am a master of phoniness,” Magician Jim Munroe says in an interview on My Hope America Program Defining Moment’s series that debuted in March. The magician had no interest in religion or God, but got to the point where he asked God to bring him behind the curtain if He was real. Munroe was diagnosed with cancer and doctor told him there was no cure. After going through extensive chemotherapy treatments, the illusionist was paired with a 19-year-old bone marrow donor and was truly reborn.
Munroe was joined by former New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree and singer Lacey Sturm and they shared their moving testimonies of addictions, hopelessness and doubt of God's love. Cuts of old video footage of Billy Graham's stadium crusades were entwined with these stories and. even the most stoic looking press members of the presentation were moved to tears at the National Religious Broadcasters’ Conference in Nashville.
The Billy Graham Evangelical Association launched My Hope for America, a grassroots campaign to reach the nation and share the Gospel. It's needed. Economical stress, depression and hopelessness abound in the lives of many. Our neighbors are suffering. According to statistics from BGEA, out of 100 Americans, 14 percent of Americans are dealing with fear and anxiety, 8 percent are struggling with job loss, and 60 percent are not born again. They desire something of lasting value, something of substance, a place of peace in their lives.
"There seems to be this really widespread belief and conviction about the urgency of reaching out to our nation in the right way,” says Preston Parrish, Vice President of My Hope America. “We’re hearing the right way is Billy Graham. He has a lifetime of integrity…He’s not a flash in the pan. He’s been scrutinized every way you can be scrutinized. And he’s the real deal.”
The campaign has spread to 57 countries, including four-million in the US with 10 million people accepting Christ overall. The program will be released through television, DVD, online and radio in the coming months. Additional music and a book project will be released, marking the celebration of Graham’s 95th birthday in November.
My Hope started in 2002 and trains pastors, churches, and the lay person to share the gospel in homes, coffee shops, or campuses and will cumulate on Graham’s birthday. The strategy is based on Mathew 9:9-13, where the apostle invited friends to his home to meet “The One”.
“This is not an event where people go to a stadium somewhere. It’s really something that just equips followers of Christ to do day in and day out in what we should be doing every day. We are praying between now and November that this will be a great catalyst to Christians very intentionally praying for and reaching out to people that they know who need Christ.”
Parrish has seen success with the program in Spain where secularism and anti-Christian religions reign. Spain has been going through an economic meltdown, and Graham never did a crusade in Spain. Believers are implementing My Hope and the feedback is solid, says Parrish.
This should encourage believers on American soil.
“In so many ways we’ve seen a great resonance with this. Billy Graham is the right person to be the catalyst for it. Being church based is a key and equipping ordinary Christians to reach out. Authenticity is something young Americans crave, they thirst for it,” he says. “It’s like the illusionist in the program, they’re sick of the sham. They’re sick of the pretense. They’re sick of the hypocrisy. They want to see and know and deal with the “real deal”."
For believers the presentation was a wake-up call in their own journey. It’s easy to become wrapped up in our own world of business and cares of life. Getting back to the message of Christ is a humbling experience.
"This is a chance for Christians to show their friends, neighbors and their family members the “real deal” of their faith in their life," says Parrish.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mathew 28:19).”