Mario Toneguzzi • Calgary Herald • July 25, 2013
When asked about the importance of the My Hope campaign, Frank King starts rattling off some disturbing numbers.
They are numbers that support the idea by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that there are many hurting people out there in our society. And that those people would benefit from hearing the powerful and transforming message of Jesus Christ.
The association launched the My Hope ministry in the Calgary area earlier this year to train congregations in evangelism for a massive national outreach initiative in the fall.
My Hope was initially established in 2002 to spread the word about Jesus Christ across the globe. It is in 57 countries. Now, churches across Canada are involved.
"More and more people know almost nothing about Christianity or even attending church or anything like that," says King, communications manager for BGEA in Canada. "These are some of the numbers that are really persuading us to go forward with this.
"Out of 100 average Canadians, five struggle with depression to the point of considering suicide. Seven out of those 100 average Canadians are struggling with the loss of a job. Eleven out of those average Canadians are either abused or are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Twelve out of those 100 feel crippled or trapped by fear and anxiety. Three out of those 100 are grieving the death of a loved one. And out of those 100 average Canadians, 66 rarely or never attend church.
"Those are the statistics that have really powered us forward to this. And the other thing that's powered us forward to do this is My Hope has been such a tremendous success around the world, and combine it with the situation in North America, the decision was we need to bring My Hope to Canada and the United States."
King says the response to the campaign has been phenomenal.
"Our goal was to have 1,200 involved with My Hope. So far more than 1,800 churches are involved with My Hope. That has simply blown away our expectations and our hopes. We're just absolutely ecstatic about that," says King, adding that at the end of June, 3,355 people had been trained in the program and 5,550 pastors and lay people have also been trained.
The outreach is partnered with a special program - available in TV, DVD and Internet format - that people can share to reinforce the message. My Hope with Billy Graham will culminate in November, when Billy Graham celebrates his 95th birthday.