Evangelist Billy Graham is convinced that he is going to live until 95, and he wants to celebrate that event with the largest evangelistic event of his life.
Graham first came to prominence through a tent revival in Los Angeles in 1949. His career has also included the 16-week New York Crusade in 1957 and his final evangelistic preaching to more than 200,000 in Flushing Meadows, New York, in 2005.
Graham turns 95 on Thursday, November 7, 2013. Instead of filling a stadium to mark the occasion, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) is planning a “living room crusade” called My Hope. The plan is for Christians and churches across the United States and Canada to invite family, friends and neighbours to their homes or other relaxed venues during the week of November 3-9, to watch a 30-minute gospel presentation. The program will be available via DVD, streaming video, and a television broadcast.
The BGEA has used the same method in 57 other countries over the last 10 years, with a reported 10 million people making decisions to become believers in Jesus Christ.
The BGEA says, “The method will change, but the message will be the same.” It also repeated something that the organization has learned over the years: “It’s the training for evangelism and follow-up, along with months or sometimes years of prayer that make the biggest impact.”
Billy Graham no longer preaches, but the Association he founded carries on evangelism through a number of means. Graham’s son Franklin is preaching in a number of evangelistic outreaches in North America this year, including one in Ottawa in September.
However, Billy Graham continues to write. A July 24 prayer letter the elder Graham wrote has garnered considerable attention. In that newsletter, Graham cited his late wife Ruth’s comment, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Graham stated in the letter that the American lifestyle is now characterized by self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin” and that mention of Jesus is being driven out of public discourse. Graham wrote, “Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone—except God. Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control.”
Graham continued, “My heart aches for America and its deceived people. The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance. In Jonah’s day, Nineveh was the lone world superpower—wealthy, unconcerned, and self-centered. When the Prophet Jonah finally traveled to Nineveh and proclaimed God’s warning, people heard and repented. I believe the same thing can happen once again.”