Christian leaders who had been inspired by the 1996 Billy Graham crusade in North Carolina devised a successful follow-up media campaign this fall.
Building on coalitions established during the Graham crusade, Outreach Carolina involved more than 1,000 churches and 7,000 volunteers under pastoral supervision.
About 1,050 people made Christian commitments in the two-week Outreach Carolina effort. Through $500,000 worth of television, radio, newspaper, and billboard ads, the blitz generated an average of 2,200 calls daily, not only to register salvation decisions, but for help with everything from drug addiction to suicide prevention.
Ads featured celebrities who shared their Christian testimonies and urged people to call a Charlotte number, where volunteers offered counseling and church referral on one of 50 phone lines. Celebrities donating their time for ads included Green Bay Packer Reggie White, tennis player Michael Chang, singer Michael W. Smith, and members of the Christian music groups dc Talk and Jars of Clay.
Though some pastors questioned spending so much money on a media blitz, Outreach Carolina had widespread interdenominational and interracial support. "This is the most exciting Christian event we've ever been involved in," says Chuck Wagner, pastor of Unity Baptist Church in Belmont, North Carolina. "I have never in my life experienced such dramatic transformations in a telephone call."
Charlotte pastor Hank Holley of Calvary Church says athletes endorsing faith is a welcome change from the customary selling of products. "We're doing it for a much better product," he says, "and that's the power of God."
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association donated $50,000 worth of literature to help with the effort and expressed ...1