LYNCHBURG, Va. (Christian Examiner) – Liberty University is adding a new evangelism initiative, forming a partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) to offer a cognate and a minor in evangelism through an online Billy Graham School of Evangelism, according to a press release from the school.
Liberty University with its combined on campus and online enrollment is the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation, the largest university in Virginia, and the largest Christian university in the world, as reported on its website.
The announcement comes after several years of declining baptisms and stalled evangelism within the United States, in particular the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Baptist denomination in the world.
Liberty University is a Baptist school but has no formal SBC ties.
Two courses will begin this fall and two courses will be added in January 2015.
The focus of the curriculum will be sharing the Gospel to help further the Great Commission, and the course will be developed from BGEA's own training curriculum.
Presentations by evangelist Billy Graham, his son, BGEA President Franklin Graham, and his grandson, Will Graham, who serves as BGEA vice president and associate evangelist, will be part of the coursework.
The younger Graham, who also serves as executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, is a Liberty alumnus and trustee.
"I'm excited about Liberty partnering with us in this endeavor, and we pray that it's going to be a blessing not just in knowledge, but in the ability to reach the world through people recommitting themselves to the work of the evangelist, and to doing evangelism on a daily basis wherever God has called them — whether it's in the work force or at home with kids or as an evangelist preaching around the world," he told Liberty University News Service.
"At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we've focused on evangelism for more than 60 years and we know some great things that God has used timelessly over decades. Now Liberty students will have the chance to have this information for themselves."
Liberty University has partnered with the BGEA in other initiatives, including the 2013 national outreach, My Hope America. More than 400 students manned phone lines and fielded hundreds of calls from viewers seeking a prayer partner or to make a decision for Christ.
This partnership helped change lives of viewers and student volunteers alike.
Micah Green, then a junior at Liberty, was one of the volunteers who used the BGEA's evangelistic training in sharing the Gospel with a caller.
Green spoke with a young man who said he was "just very ready to turn his life around."
"I was fortunate to be able to be the one to talk to him," Green recalled for LUNS. "I was weeping with joy. I told him to tell other people of his decision because they would be just as ecstatic as I am.
"It was an honor to be a part of such a great organization that does this kind of evangelism."
The new courses and academic specializations mark a new milestone in the relationship between Liberty University and the evangelistic ministry, according to Graham.
"As an alumnus, I rejoice at what God's going to do through Liberty with this program. I love the school. I serve as a trustee now," Graham said in the LU article. "Liberty is one of the very first schools that have joined in this, and now future Liberty students will have some of the best material on the planet provided to them."