ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Quoting words of comfort from both Billy Graham and Jesus Christ, Southern Baptists will proclaim to the nation Sept. 27 that “There is Hope” through a full-page newspaper advertisement in USA Today.
The ad is sponsored jointly by the North American Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, and the SBC Executive Committee. Although scheduled to run in the main news section on Sept. 27, it might run instead on Sept. 28 at the newspaper’s discretion.
Robert E. Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board, said the concept for the ad arose during an informal discussion between himself and a LifeWay executive at the mid-September Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, Tenn. As talks progressed, the three entities agreed the time was right to offer a message of hope to a nation in turmoil.
“Counselors tell us that in these difficult days hopelessness is one of the major dilemmas with which people are struggling,” Reccord said. “This ad not only tells our nation that there is indeed hope, but more importantly, the only place it can be found — a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I am so thankful that Southern Baptists can work together to share boldly in the public marketplace of ideas the greatest news the world has ever received.”
“This ad is a way to point people to the only hope that can change their lives for eternity,” added Jimmy Draper, president of LifeWay. “This is a cooperative effort among our three entities. We wrestled over the content and, through that process, came up with a message that speaks to the needs of people throughout our nation.”
Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said he is “grateful that we could be a part of giving a timely message of hope and encouragement to those who are shaken and confused, to those who are suffering, to those who are questioning, and to those who inwardly long to come home to God.”
The ad places the simple statement “There is HOPE” in large type above a quote from Billy Graham delivered during the Sept. 14 National Day of Prayer and Remembrance Service at the National Cathedral in Washington.
Under the heading “Thirteen Days Ago…,” the quote from Graham reads, “Yes, there is hope. There is hope for the present because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. There is also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I have hope not just for this life, but for heaven and the life to come.”
Beneath it, under the heading “2000 years ago…,” is Christ’s statement from John 14:1: “Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God. Trust also in me.”
At the bottom of the page, readers are encouraged to “Discover how you can have lasting hope in uncertain times by calling 1-888-537-8720.” The number connects readers to the North American Mission Board’s Evangelism Response Center, through which calls are directed to volunteer “telephone encouragers” in their homes throughout the country.
The ad is tagged, “A message from Southern Baptists.” Website addresses for disaster relief information (www.namb.net) and locating a local Southern Baptist Church (www.sbc.net) are also given.
The hundreds of telephone encouragers trained to share their faith as part of the Evangelism Response Center will be joined by about 90 employees of LifeWay Christian Services who have been trained to help man the phones during the response time. A similar phone bank also will be staffed by volunteers at the North American Mission Board.
“We are hoping for the opportunity to share Christ with hundreds of people from across the nation with this ad and the response opportunities,” Reccord said.