In a country where nearly ninety-two percent of the one billion plus people profess to be either Hindu or Muslim, Christians in the nation of India are working hard to get the gospel message out to those who have never heard. One of the ways this is being done is by integrating the technology of television with the biblical practice of inviting friends and neighbors into one’s home (Luke 5:27-32). This simple practice, according to Preston Parrish, executive vice president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA, http://www.billygraham.org/), if bathed in prayer and blessed by the Holy Spirit, can lead many into the Kingdom of God.
Billy Graham in India
And this is exactly what is happening through “My Hope India,” part of the “My Hope” World Television Project, sponsored by the BGEA. For six days this past 2005 Christmas season, up to 800,000 home groups representing nearly sixty thousand churches invited non-Christian friends, family and neighbors into their homes to watch television Crusades that had been dubbed into fourteen different heart languages. From this event, local churches and the BGEA are seeing hundreds of thousands of decisions to trust in Jesus Christ.
“My Hope” History
The “My Hope” projects began in 2002 with a vision by Franklin Graham to take Billy Graham Crusades and the gospel message to a larger population. Beginning in the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, the television Crusades and evangelistic movies were dubbed into Spanish, and adapted to local cultures. The BGEA purchased air time on television and began mobilizing and training local pastors and church leaders who would open their homes to non-Christians. After watching the Crusade or movie on television, the trained believers would then build on the gospel message. According to Parrish, there is great benefit in leading others to Christ in this type of home setting. “When someone makes a decision [to trust in Christ], they are coming to faith where they are already in a small group,” he emphasized.
Since 2002, “My Hope” projects have also been held in Panama, Paraguay, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Peru and Moldova. Over two million decisions of faith have been recorded so far.
“My Hope” Comes to India
More than a year ago, the BGEA and partnering churches in India began preparing for the “My Hope India” project. In the two hundred years since the great Baptist pioneer William Carey shared the gospel with the people of India, non-believers have been coming to faith. “Despite this,” Parrish said, “the massive subcontinent is vastly unreached” with the message of Christ. He and others recognize that with a nation so complex in terms of land, people groups, social norms and history, sharing the gospel in India carries unprecedented challenges.
“We have prayed as never before in this project,” Parrish said. “We give God all the glory [for what is being done].”
For months, local churches and believers prepared for the broadcast. The great importance the people of India place on relationship makes the home group interaction effective in sharing the gospel message clearly and concisely. The 150 television broadcast hours over Christmas included films and Crusades in fourteen languages. Local believers then expanded on the presentation of the gospel message with those who had come to watch the broadcasts. Thoughtful and deliberate preparation and much prayer were combined before, during and after the airings; however, according to Parrish, “evangelism is the work of the Holy Spirit.” It is indeed God who gets the glory.
For Parrish, there are at least five reasons the response so far to the “My Hope India” project has been so successful:
- God delights in blessing the uncompromising presentation of the gospel.
- God delights in using the proclamation of the gospel through local languages.
- Television is an effective medium to use in sharing the message.
- The gathering time allows for relationship-building.
- The project flows through pastors and local churches.
Reminders of the Power of the Gospel
In a time when tragedy, violence and sadness seem overwhelming, we all, as Parrish suggests, need to “be reminded afresh of the uniqueness and power of the gospel.” For Parrish and those involved with the “My Hope” projects, it is important not to “shrink from the proclamation that Jesus is Lord” in a time when increasing secularism and rising radicalism seem to be unhindered. Romans 1:16 provides the mandate for the Christian life: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.”
The Holy Spirit is indeed doing a mighty work through “My Hope India” and other projects which incorporate both the human and the divine element. According to Parrish, there are at least three elements Christians must take to heart when seeking to share the gospel in various contexts:
- Don’t shrink from the proclamation of message of the gospel.
- Look for new ways to share the gospel (in this case, by combining technology and home groups).
- Cover the project in prayer.
For more information on the “My Hope” projects, go to http://billygraham.org/IntlMin_WorldTVProject.asp.