Disaster-relief volunteers logged on from all over the globe Friday night to watch Franklin Graham and his sister Anne Graham Lotz offer Biblical encouragement during a livestream event of the Sharing Hope in Jesus’ Name Conference.
The conference, originally slated to be a four-day, in-person event in Orlando, Florida, had to be adjusted in the wake of COVID-19. But the truncated online version still offered spiritual refreshment for people who serve as crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team and volunteers with Samaritan’s Purse. People watched from all over the United States, in Canada and also in Peru, Korea and the Philippines.
“Last year’s conference in Orlando was amazing, and it was my first,” volunteer Joe shared during the livestream. “I was disappointed we could not do it again this year. But I am thankful that they did this livestream.”
Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, thanked the volunteers during the hour-long livestream. The coronavirus, he said, has not stopped us, noting current COVID-19 deployments in New York and Italy as well as recent deployments after tornadoes tore through the Southeastern United States.
“We’re going to go forward with what the Lord has put in front of us,” he said.
Lotz urged the volunteers to take an internal inventory as they moved forward ministering in the name of Jesus. She shared a powerful lesson from John 7 on the third person of the Trinity—the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, she said, is exactly the same as Jesus, just without man’s physical body.
“You in so many ways are someone who helps others, you stand by to help them, you strengthen other people, you’re there to comfort them,” Lotz told the volunteers. “That’s who the Holy Spirit is to you.”
“Anne, that is so very true!” volunteer Suzanne declared on chat. “The Holy Spirit lifts all of us up when we are with those in disaster. Praise God for the person of the Holy Spirit.”
No matter the situation, the Holy Spirit is your strengthener, Lotz said. And she explained, the third part of the Trinity comes into your life the moment you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
But, she added, that’s a decision every person must make. “God doesn’t have any grandchildren,” Lotz pointed out.
Surrender and staying in God’s Word are important for the volunteers. But Lotz also reminded them that their job is only to love people and share the Gospel.
“It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict them on the inside. None of us can change another person’s heart,” Lotz said. “Pray before you go out. Ask the Holy Spirit to go before you, to hover over the hearts and minds of the people you’re going to be ministering to. … that you’ll be given the opportunity to tell them what Jesus means to you.
“That He can put their broken lives back together on the inside.”
At the conclusion of Lotz’s message, volunteers chatted with one another, sending warm thoughts and bidding adieu until they meet again on deployment. So many said they left feeling encouraged.
“I didn’t want it to end,” volunteer Cathy Tull typed in the final moments of the livestream.
“Thank you for sharing hope tonight.”