EDITOR'S NOTE, 12/4/20: This headline has been updated to distinguish that 1.7 million people's faith journeys were impacted by the BGEA's online efforts and to clarify that not all impacted persons accepted Christ, but rather made decisions for Christ.
One million, seven-hundred thousand people have made decisions for Christ this year through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's online work, according to Franklin Graham. The number is 30 percent higher than this time last year, despite the lockdowns keeping people from going out and meeting publicly, CBN News reports.
In a statement to The Christian Post, Graham stated, "I think there's nothing normal about 2020. We've never gone through a pandemic in my lifetime. The world has never been locked down before. It's God who touches people's hearts and opens up people's eyes. The pandemic hasn't stopped it. If anything, it's advanced it."
"I try to shy away from the questions on numbers. [But] God's the one who gives the increase. It’s not Franklin Graham and it’s not the institution," Graham added.
The lockdowns have enabled the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to increase digital outreach efforts, including buying more airtime on cable TV to share the gospel and launching a gospel hotline that is available 24/7.
"People who have not listened before are listening now. For evangelism, it may be one of the better years we've had,” Graham said. “I think they're willing to listen to the Gospel. People are scared and afraid. When you give them the hope we have in Jesus Christ, they're eager to accept that. When the world turns upside down is when they're eager to listen." Graham told The Christian Post.
On Twitter, Graham also noted that the government lockdowns have not been easy on everyone.
He wrote, "the prolonged lockdowns, isolation, unemployment, financial impact, & lack of school structure is having a devastating impact on lives—not just in Japan but here in the US & other countries.
“For the first time in history,” he continued, “the well have been quarantined, not just the sick. This pandemic has had many side effects, but it is also an opportunity for followers of Jesus Christ to share the reason for the hope that lies w/in us. His peace, strength, & love can see people through every storm of life—even a global pandemic."
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John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Daily Fodder, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.