UPDATED THURSDAY, OCT. 10, 11 a.m.
PLANO, Texas (BP) -- Nike Ladapo shares a birthday week with Billy Graham, and the soon-to-be 50-year-old Texas woman is following his lead on the most fulfilling way to celebrate a milestone birthday.
For his 95th birthday on Nov. 7, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is kicking off a weeklong endeavor to reach the country with the Gospel. From Nov. 3-12, more than 24,000 churches are participating in "My Hope America with Billy Graham," reaching out with the love and Good News of Christ in homes and other venues across the country.
Nike, a member of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church, signed up after a Sunday service (Oct. 6) to host a "My Hope Party" at her home. She said she cannot imagine a better way to celebrate her birthday than by inviting family, friends and neighbors to her home and then sharing what Christ has done in her life and how He can transform their lives.
"Matthew 28:19 tells us that we are to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth and help fulfill the Great Commission that the Lord has given us," she said. "My Hope America is a great opportunity to do that."
Nike was among the thousands attending services at three Prestonwood campuses who viewed a 29-minute video to be shown in the homes of those across the country hosting a "My Hope Party." Produced by the Graham evangelistic association, the video weaves footage of classic Billy Graham crusades with the testimonies of three people who found God while broken and in the depths of misery.
"Billy told several of us months ago that he believed God had given him one last message to preach to the country, and 'My Hope America' was born out of that conversation," said Jack Graham, pastor of the 33,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church. "We are praying that millions will hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ across America and that hundreds of thousands are going to be born again into the family of God."
Currently, the pastor said, Prestonwood has nearly 700 homes registered to host a party, with a goal of at least 1,000 homes.
"Our people have seen the vision of what God can do if we, like the New Testament church, publicly, and then from house to house, share the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ," Jack Graham said.
Last weekend, Prestonwood posted large maps in the atriums of all three campuses showing where members were already registered to host a party.
Chance and Blanca Oliver were among those who surveyed the map at Prestonwood's Plano Campus and registered to host a party.
"We have to start evangelizing at the community level, then the city, and from there it just grows," Blanca Oliver said. "When we make it personal, through the sharing of our stories, it reaches more people. People want to connect."
Renee Fuller, who also is planning to host a party, said she has no doubt the film will help lead many who do not yet know Jesus Christ to Him as their Lord and Savior.
"It's such a powerful video that I believe people who normally wouldn't listen or attend a service will be moved by it," Fuller said.
Indeed, it is a stirring video not only because of the poignant testimonies but also because of the vignettes of Billy Graham -- the man who preached to hundreds of millions of people for six decades -- sharing the Gospel in his winsome Southern resonance.
"Millions are crying, 'What can I do to be saved from the pressures of life; the pressures are just so great," the evangelist who has preached the Gospel face-to-face to more people than anyone in history, says in the video. "We want to scream at life; we want to escape from life. Adlai Stevenson once said, 'It's not the days of your life, but the life in your days that counts.'
"You have so much time, but for what? The things that are broken in your heart and life can be restored in Christ if you put your faith and your confidence in Him. He died on the cross; He rose from the dead for you. He wants to give you guidance in your life; He wants to give you a peace and joy and assurance that if you die, you'll go to heaven. But first, there must be a change. You must turn around; that's called repentance in the Bible.
"Repent," he says, his voice fading in the video, "repent, repent."
To learn more about participating in My Hope America with Billy Graham and view view the evangelistic video programs, visit www.myhopewithbillygraham.org. My Hope resources also are available in Spanish.
Berta Delgado-Young is communications editor at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress
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