'Heaven' available to thousands daily from Billy Graham

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Christian Examiner) -- During the last two years on his Nov. 7 birthday evangelist Billy Graham has released new, never-seen-before sermons on DVD. Less than a month since the release of his latest sermon, "Heaven," more than 140,000 copies have been distributed and the video message has an additional 130,000 plus views on YouTube.

During his 60-year ministry, masses have flocked to hear Billy Graham preach the Gospel. He has reached millions with evangelical messages on radio and television programs and at big, tent-revivals. At 96, the Southern Baptist minister is still stirred to preach the hope of Christ to the spiritually lost and is using today's technology and resources from My Hope to do it.

My Hope is a ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that was birthed from the homebound Graham's desire to continue to preach and is designed for evangelism at the church level, said Steve Rhoads, vice president of My Hope.

This unique minstry has been opeating since 2002 overseas, but only the past two years in the United States.

According to the My Hope website, there have been more than 10 million total commitments in more than 300,000 churches worldwide since its inception.

Today the months of planning that once preceded his well-known, stadium-sized crusades are spent in field work that prepares local churches to share Graham's evangelistic sermons on DVD.

Ultimately, the November video sermon release is the peak of prayerfully executed preparation for the opportunity of churches to preach the Gospel, Rhoads told Christian Examiner.

"It's the kick off of this national initiative that culminates in the release of the film 'Heaven'" which features the testimonies of a firefighter and a young woman faced with death and a simple presentation of the Gospel, Rhoads said.

"We've been deliberately asking churches to pray for people who they know don't know the hope of the Gospel and have never been saved and don't know the joy and peace that that brings and then plan deliberately to host an event where 'Heaven' can be shown," he said.

From a group of international churches in Ohio to the small rural town of Colchester, Connecticut, and down to Florida's Boignton Beach, field staff have reported nearly 1,000 evangelistic events centered around the presentation of "Heaven" occurring nationwide, and hundreds more are scheduled in the months ahead.

"It's very much an ongoing work," Rhoads said. "Past Christmas, into Holy week and beyond, we will hear stories and see churches get engaged."

That number does not account for the events that happen outside of the staff's knowledge.

"There are undoubtedly many more that take place that haven't been officially reported to us," said Brent Rinehart BGEA's manager of public and media relations. "In fact, I see reports daily on Twitter and Facebook of events that have taken place at churches and in communities that may or may not have been officially reported to our My Hope team."

My Hope provides free resources that help churches share the hope of Jesus Christ.

"The Cross," which was broadcast in 2013 on the Fox News Channel across the US and Canada featured the testimonies of Lacrae and Lacy Stern. It has been distributed on DVD to over 355,000 people and has more than 1.2 million views on YouTube.

More information about "Heaven" and "The Cross" can be found online at MyHopewithBillyGraham.org.