More than 28,000 churches in North America — including 370 in Oklahoma — are participating in an unprecedented faith outreach with a special message from renowned evangelist Billy Graham at its center.
Seven years since the renowned evangelist last delivered a public sermon, he will share a videotaped gospel message that will be broadcast on television Thursday — his 95th birthday.
Organizers said the “My Hope America With Billy Graham” outreach message also will be viewed via DVD and the Internet in addition to TV in thousands of homes, prisons, homeless shelters and on college campuses.
“This is the largest undertaking the Billy
Graham Evangelistic Association has ever done in North America,” Preston Parrish, vice president of “My Hope America with Billy Graham,” said recently.
“It's just really stunning the extent to which people have caught the vision. Oklahoma is right in the middle of the country and right in the middle of ‘My Hope.'”
The Rev. Mark McAdow, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Oklahoma City, said about 30 families at his church are participating. He said he wanted his congregation to hear the special message from a renowned evangelist who has not presented a public sermon in recent years.
“I have personal respect for Billy Graham because I believe he's led more people to Christ in this century than anybody else I can think of,” McAdow said. “When I heard that this might be his final message to America, I knew I wanted to be involved.”
Fresh words of hope
Does “The Cross,” a videotaped message at the heart of “My Hope America,” represent Graham's last sermon to the nation?
“I think you have to say it could be. We're not saying it will be,” Parrish said.
Parrish, in a telephone interview from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's North Carolina headquarters, said Graham's most recent public evangelistic effort was in New York in 2005. Since then, he's preached with his son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, in New Orleans in March 2006 and in Baltimore later that year.
Parrish said Graham now lacks the stamina to conduct a multi-night citywide mission effort as he has done in the past.
Yet, “while his body is wearing out, he is still mentally and spiritually absolutely sharp and engaged in the needs and affairs of our time,” Parrish said.
“He believes God has left him here and given him clarity and energy for such a time as this.”
Parrish said Graham videotaped his message earlier this year in his home in the mountains of North Carolina.
“There's a great deal of fresh material from Billy Graham in his 95th year that people will see in this telecast that has never been recorded or aired,” Parrish said.