I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.
—2nd Timothy 4:1-2

The Church Evangelizing!

billy-grahamFranklin Graham, son of the great evangelist Billy Graham, comes to Pittsburgh August 15, 16, and 17 for the Three Rivers Festival of Hope. Like the old Billy Graham crusades, the Franklin Graham festival is a blend of music and preaching designed to introduce people to Jesus or—also common—to revive faith among those in whom it has grown cold.

church-evangelizingIn two pastoral letters, The Church Alive! and The Church Evangelizing!, Bishop David Zubik mentioned the marvel of how Billy Graham touched people’s hearts. Though Billy Graham is now 95 and very weak, his son Franklin now sustains the worldwide efforts of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

Despite the many divisions among Christians, the BGEA has a long record of working cooperatively and respectfully with the Catholic Church. We share the common hope of helping Christians return to the practice of their faith and of bringing the Gospel to every person.

Bishop Zubik appreciates the opportunity for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to participate in the Franklin Graham festival. Since many festival participants will have personal or family roots in the Catholic Church, we want to be there to welcome them back as friends.

The BGEA elaborates on how you can be a friend and “bring a friend” to Jesus:

  1. 1.Look around: Who’s in your life—family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, classmates? Who among them doesn’t trust Jesus or believe what he has promised? Even among those claiming faith, who is unwilling to practice that faith—say, by coming to Mass? Make a list!
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  3. Look up: Pray for the people on your list. Your prayer is important for them, because life in God is our ultimate purpose in life for each of us. Your prayer is important for you, too, because you must entrust yourself to God. If you try to evangelize while worrying about failure or embarrassment, you betray the weakness of your faith.

  4. 3Look out: Pay attention to the people on your list. Spend time with them. If you don’t have other opportunities to be with them, then invite them to lunch, dinner, coffee, or whatever. Listen to their stories, hopes, fears. Care about them—don’t fake it! Love is the habit of wanting and choosing what is good for others.
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  6. Look forward: Invite them to Jesus. For some, especially those already familiar with church, an invitation to join you at Mass is appropriate. For others, especially those disinterested in Jesus, an invitation to the Franklin Graham festival may be appropriate. Either way, don’t just say, “Go,” but bring them with you when you go!

  7. Look after: Whether or not they respond, don’t just drop them. If your friendship is sincere, you will sustain it. And those who respond will especially need your encouragement, support, and guidance.

5The Franklin Graham festival, the Three Rivers Festival of Hope, takes place August 15-17 at the CONSOL Energy Center.

Admission is free. It’s not too hard to get there by bus and the T, but you could consider carpooling as some do for a hockey game.

Here’s the program: