Jesus' Birth: A Rescue Mission
A Letter From Franklin Graham
November 28, 2011 - Jesus came to our world on a search and rescue mission. It’s the most wonderful truth about Christmas.
I tell you that in the same way there will be … rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7, NIV).
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus emphasized searching for and rescuing lost sinners. He told a parable about a shepherd who had 100 sheep and left the 99 to search for one that was lost. When he found it, he rejoiced, put it on his shoulders, and carried it home. Jesus said, “I tell you that in the same way there will be … rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7, NIV).
There was great rejoicing over what God did recently in Lithuania, a small Baltic nation formerly part of the Soviet bloc. Out of this country’s entire population of 3 million, less than 3,000 have been attending an evangelical church on a typical Sunday morning. We held our Crusade in the largest arena in the capital city of Vilnius, with seating for approximately 10,000 people. Considering the nation’s small number of believers, I wondered if the arena was too large.
No one is ever too old to come to Christ. On Saturday night, we saw a couple in their 90s come forward to seek forgiveness for sins and give their lives to the Lord. The Bible says, “The Lord … is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Following Lithuania, I traveled to India to preach four nights at our Crusade in Hyderabad, one of the largest cities in that country. The evangelistic outreach was planned and carried out in partnership with over 1,800 churches in the region. We experienced much opposition, and there was even a question as to whether I would be granted a visa that permitted me to preach. Radicals who opposed Christianity threatened mass demonstrations. The police even came out in force. We rejoice that at the last minute I was given the visa needed, and the demostrators failed to show.
Over 270,000 people attended during the four-day event, and thousands responded to the invitation at each meeting. Pray that the new believers will stand strong, grow in the Lord, and begin to share His love with others.
The wonder of Christmas is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), but time is short. No one knows how long the door of salvation will remain open—the life of any person may end unexpectedly. And I believe there are many signs that the return of Christ is near. God wants lost people found and rescued before it is too late, and He calls us to remain faithful to this task. “The strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought. … My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth” (Ezekiel 34:4, 6, ESV).
That is why we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ at every opportunity we have in every place possible. Throughout 2011, God has gathered a great harvest of hearts through BGEA Crusade events in cities across America as well as in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Canada. Pray for upcoming Crusades in places like Japan on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami, Ghana, Hungary, Bolivia, and American cities from Texas to the Great Lakes.
This December we will be taking the Gospel across Portugal and Spain, as well as the East African country of Zambia, with our World Evangelism Through Television project, My Hope. Pray that there will be a great harvest.
If you are anywhere near Charlotte, North Carolina, in the weeks of December leading up to Christmas, we invite you to experience Christmas at the Library. This is a fantastic opportunity for you and your family to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. People visit the Billy Graham Library from all over the country and the world, and every day there are guests who tell us that they made life-changing spiritual commitments as a result of their visit. Pray that God will continue touching many hearts.
My father has just turned 93. He is doing well and had a wonderful birthday weekend surrounded by family. He joins me in thanking you for your continuing support of this ministry by your prayer and giving. We could not do without either.
May God richly bless you and your family this Christmas.
In the first part of 2012, we’ll hold a Celebration of Hope in the Japanese city of Sendai, near the epicenter of last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. Churches in Japan have invited us to help commemorate the first anniversary of the disaster as we share the comfort and hope of Jesus Christ with people still recovering from tragedy. Your gift can help reach lost and hurting hearts in northern Japan or at upcoming Crusades in other places during 2012, including American cities from Texas to the Great Lakes. Give today »
Much of European society has become secular. Nations that once sent missionaries all over the world now need to be evangelized. Most evangelical churches in Spain and Portugal are small, with limited resources, but hundreds of them are partnering with us to take the Gospel across their countries through My Hope, a project that combines nationwide TV specials with tens of thousands of neighbor-to-neighbor contacts. Your gift of $50 can equip 25 Christian families to invite unsaved friends and neighbors into their homes to hear the Good News about Jesus Christ. $100 can equip 50 families. Donate now »