BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (BP) — Small churches in particular can benefit from the free evangelism outreach My Hope 2014 with Billy Graham, releasing the new DVD “Heaven” in advance of Graham’s 96th birthday Nov. 7, said Southern Baptist church planter Terry Dorsett.
“All churches are struggling with evangelism. How do we get our friends and neighbors to listen to us share the Gospel? Most of us are scared to do it. We’re afraid to be rejected,” Dorsett said. “It gives us an opportunity to do what we should be doing already, but we don’t really know how to.”
Dorsett is a joint My Hope coordinator for the northeastern U.S., working in Connecticut, Rhode Island and a portion of New York. He’s serving in conjunction with Bruce James, evangelism director for the Baptist Convention of New England, who is concentrating on other New England states.
“A lot of the churches in this area … are very, very small,” Dorsett said. “They don’t have a lot of money. These pastors are bivocational. We’ll actually give the churches in this area up to five DVDs for free … and then we give them the follow-up materials for free.
“We give them the prayer cards for free, all the promotional materials for free. If they were trying to buy all this from somewhere, they’d spend $300 or $400. So for a small church, with a tiny budget that’s struggling to figure out what to do, this just sounds like a Godsend to them,” Dorsett said. “And that’s what we’re seeing. A lot of them, that’s exactly how they feel about it.”
Heaven is the latest DVD in the My Hope evangelism series and includes a new message from Graham, with stories of hope and faith from author Laurie Coombs and California firefighter Cheyane Caldwell, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The Christian outreach is multidenominational and multiethnic.
“Heaven is going to be an incredible resource for the church to use to present the Gospel,” My Hope Vice President Steve Rhoads said. “The trailer only gives a glimpse of the importance of this film in proclaiming the peace that only comes from knowing Jesus Christ. As wonderful as this program is, it is only made truly effective when we pray and ask God to prepare the way.”
The DVD and promotional materials are offered in English and Spanish. The Heaven trailer is available at www.MyHopewithBillyGraham.org/programs, along with ordering instructions. Orders will be fulfilled shortly after Oct. 31, according to the website, and the film will be shown on numerous television stations in November.
More than 140 churches in Dorsett’s coverage area have agreed to participate in the 2014 outreach, scheduling such outreaches as movie nights, drive-in theater nights, Thanksgiving Eve services and community meals, and viewings in nursing homes, prisons and adult daycare centers, Dorsett said. He hopes to top last year’s participation in the three-state area of 205 churches, which led to 160 decisions for Christ. Nationwide during the 2013 My Hope America with Billy Graham, more than 110,000 accepted Christ, using My Hope films “The Cross,” “Lose to Gain” and “Defining Moments.”
“Last year we heavily suggested a specific date and a specific kind of method of showing it. This year it’s much more wide open. We just want to give you the DVD, and you use it in whatever way you want to, whenever you want to. And I think that has people a lot more energized,” Dorsett said.
“That’s where they’re getting all these creative ideas from, like the drive-in movie that some of the Churches of God are doing. I would have never thought of having a drive-in movie in Connecticut in the fall when it’s cold, but they think it will work,” Dorsett said. “A lot of creative juices are flowing now in peoples’ minds and they’re thinking of a whole lot of ways that we probably would have never even dreamed of, and that’s kind of cool.”
The majority of Connecticut, where Dorsett is based, does not profess to know Christ.
“Seven percent of people in Connecticut claim to be evangelical believers, but only four percent of them attend an evangelical church. So we’re not sure where that other three percent is,” Dorsett said. “Apparently they go to non-evangelical churches, but somewhere along the way they have come to know the Lord.”
Heaven is a helpful tool for churches to reach the unsaved among their own congregations, Dorsett said.
“Actually, we are having quite a few people who are showing the My Hope DVD in their churches, to try to give the Gospel to people who have not yet been born again. That’s the interesting twist,” he said. “We just assume that if you come to church you’re a Christian, but you’re not. So that’s very healthy, to let people really think about the Gospel, and let it sink in and understand what it really means.
Faith Fellowship, one of Dorsett’s church plants, will show Heaven during a free movie night at the University of Hartford, in cooperation with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“We’re going to have discussion groups afterward so that all the students who are Christian can share their faith with smaller groups of students after the movie … and hopefully see some kids get saved.”
Dorsett encourages churches to conduct evangelism, regardless of whether they use the My Hope outreach.
“If you’re not going to use My Hope, then use something,” Dorsett said. “But don’t just say we don’t know what to do, because these tools are here. These tools are out there, we just need to do it.”
Since its implementation in 2002, the My Hope outreach has been held in 59 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East, generating more than 10 million salvation and rededication decisions for Jesus Christ, according to the Billy Graham Evangelist Association.
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