PHILADELPHIA (BP) -- My Hope America with Billy Graham has provided a catalyst for Christians to live evangelistic lives extending outside church walls and into all walks of life, said K. Marshall Williams, an inner-city Southern Baptist pastor in Philadelphia.
"I think the problem today is not the increase of darkness," Williams said. "It's the absence of light. And it's time to get the saints up off the pews and out into the marketplace, sharing the Gospel first by allowing people to see the Gospel.
"People have heard a lot of sermons. They want to see your sermon," the pastor said. "Once they see your sermon, now you have maximum capacity to allow them to hear it."
A viewing of "The Cross," a My Hope film featuring Graham, drew 300 members and nearby residents to Nazarene Baptist Church, a congregation of 600 in a neighborhood wrought with classic inner-city problems, including a poor education system, high crime, drug and alcohol addiction, unwed mothers and child abuse.
Of the 50 or so who walked to the altar after the film, 15 made professions of faith in Christ. Others rededicated their lives and accepted prayer.
"If you're here today and you want to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord," Williams had said in extending an invitation to the audience, "I want you to just step out from wherever you are and come down."
"When everybody starting coming forward, I said thank You, Lord; You answered prayer, that our labor was not in vain," Williams recounted. "So many times you plant and water, but don't see the increase. But God did it."
Among those saved was 11-year-old Aaliyah Allen.
"I was watching the film, and [Billy Graham] said that God loves us all," Allen said on a video the church recorded and placed on YouTube. "And I was getting into a lot of trouble when I felt really guilty about it. And when I got saved, I felt like everything was just like I started from a new slate."
Rhonda Oliver, an adult who had visited Nazarene at times with her family, also turned to Jesus.
"Billy Graham ... when he was talking about Jesus and how when He died on His cross -- some parts [Graham] was saying in the Bible kind of touched me" ... Read More