A few weeks ago I traveled to Myanmar, a nation once known as Burma. We'll be holding a Crusade there at the end of next year, and I met with pastors and members of the Crusade committee. This is a country that has been under military dictatorship for the last 50 years or so, and churches have been under severe restrictions.
Things are beginning to change now, and we are thankful that churches are gaining some freedom. People are hopeful. As you can imagine, there is a lot of planning and groundwork that needs to be done far in advance of the Crusade, and we would appreciate your prayers. This is the first time the churches in this area have cooperated for an evangelistic effort like this, and we are asking God to work in a mighty way.
Myanmar is a Buddhist country, and it has one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the world, the Shwedagon (or Golden) Pagoda. Thousands upon thousands of people go there to pray to the lifeless statues of Buddha. As I witnessed this in person, I thought of the story in the book of Daniel where King Belshazzar and the people "praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone." Almighty God responded with handwriting on the wall, and Daniel was called to interpret the writing. He delivered God's judgment upon King Belshazzar for worshiping gods "which see not, nor hear, nor know" (Dan. 5:23) and for failing to honor the God who gave them breath.
Greta Van Susteren of Fox News was traveling with me, along with her husband, John Coale. Standing at the temple, I remarked to her that "these statues can't see, they can't hear, they can't know. The God we worship is alive. He sees, He hears, He knows—and He loves us!" That is good news, and it is a message people in Buddhist countries like Myanmar desperately need to hear.
While we work and plan for Myanmar in 2016, we are proclaiming the gospel this year to many other people who desperately need the life-changing gospel. We have Crusade events in 30 cities on five continents, including Barcelona for BGEA's first evangelistic Crusade ever in Spain; Lviv, in war-torn Ukraine; and Tokyo, the largest city in the world.
Here in the United States, I will lead Crusades in Jacksonville, Florida; Birmingham, Alabama.; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. My son, Will Graham, is scheduled to preach at Crusade events in several other U.S. cities this year, and later this month he is leading evangelistic Celebrations in two cities in the Philippines.
After the visit to Myanmar, we were in Vietnam and our group was riding an elevator up to a meeting on the 35th floor in an office building in Hanoi. Somewhere above the 20th floor, there was a loud bang, and the elevator violently shuddered and began dropping, one jolt at a time. We all realized the grave danger if it kept falling from that height. Someone in our group began praying out loud. Partway down, the elevator abruptly jerked to a stop between two floors.
Greta, always the reporter, pulled out her camera and started interviewing me about what I was thinking. I told her, "If we go down, I'm going up." We eventually pried the doors apart and all slid through the partial opening. The experience was yet another vivid reminder to me, and to those with me, that we worship a God who sees and hears.
Not everyone gets trapped in a falling elevator, but all of us get into real difficulties we weren't planning on. You may find yourself in a hard situation even now. Or you may be enduring a long trial of some sort, and it feels like you are all alone. What a comfort and what an assurance to remember that whatever you are going through—God knows!
The psalmist wrote, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name" (Ps. 147:3-4). Astronomers tell us there are perhaps 100 billion galaxies that can be detected by the Hubble telescope, and most of those galaxies contain billions of stars. I can't get my mind around numbers like that, but our God knows the name of every star. And not only does He know the stars by name, He knows your name.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and the Bible says, "He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out" (John 10:3). He even knows the number of hairs on your head. That's such a little thing, but there is a God in Heaven who sees and guides and directs in the big things of the universe and in the littlest things concerning you. He knows you, He knows me, and He loves us.
God also loves lost people and deeply desires to draw them to Himself. Pray that in every city where God is sending us this year, people will turn to Christ in repentance and faith, "as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:39). We can only do this work because friends like you support us through prayer and giving, and we are grateful for your partnership. God has opened many doors for 2015, and we ask for your help this month to keep moving forward in the work.
No one knows what this year holds. We don't know what storms we'll find ourselves in, individually or as a nation, or what's going to come down the road. But whatever comes, we've got a God we can call on. And He's there to help us.
May God richly bless you,
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