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Harvest Crusades with Greg Laurie: 20 Years, 4 Million People, One Message
20th Annual "Southern California Harvest" Draws Record Crowd of 126,000 People to Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Aug. 14 – 16
RIVERSIDE, Calif., August 17, 2009—A standing-room-only crowd lined the concourse at Angel Stadium of Anaheim this weekend, Aug. 14 – 16, while fireworks exploded overhead—not for a baseball championship, but to celebrate lives changed through Christ at the 20th annual Southern California Harvest with Greg Laurie. Some 126,000 people packed into the stadium over three nights to listen to the singular message of hope that has been presented by Riverside, Calif., pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie to 4 million people at Harvest Crusade events around the world since 1990.
Founded by Laurie, the Harvest Crusades have been a fixture in Southern California for the past 20 years, and its cornerstone event held at Angel Stadium each year is the longest-running annual outreach in the U.S.
"The message I have presented at Harvest Crusade events in Southern California—and around the world—over the past 20 years has not changed, but lives have," said Laurie. "God loves us and wants to have a relationship with each one of us."
Indeed, during the course of the weekend, some 11,969 people stepped onto the outfield at Angel Stadium to indicate a decision of faith, responding directly to Laurie's invitation to, "Come, just as you are. Bring your fears and your addictions, but come to Jesus tonight."
All of the messages delivered by Laurie pointed those within earshot to heaven. On Sunday evening Laurie asked the crowd of 50,000 gathered, "Why would you reject a gift like eternal life? Heaven is the future destination of everyone who has put their trust in Christ." He continued, "Heaven is not for good people, heaven is for forgiven people. No one is good enough to get to heaven, but if you are forgiven by Jesus you will be there."
20th Anniversary Celebration
In addition to Laurie's messages, the 20th anniversary of the Harvest Crusades in Southern California was celebrated with the best in Christian music, with featured performances by Chris Tomlin, Third Day, Skillet, Relient K, the Katinas, as well as perennial favorites Crystal Lewis and Dennis Agajanian, both of whom have performed at each Southern California Harvest event since 1990.
Laurie interviewed Nick Vujicic, a man born with no arms and no legs, from the stage during the Saturday evening Harvest program, asking him the source of his joy and zeal for life. "Even without limbs, I am free, I am soaring on the wings of the Holy Spirit," said Vujicic. "It doesn't matter if you're not complete on the outside, it's the inside that counts."
The weekend celebration culminated on Sunday with pastors from churches across Southern California in attendance, including Rick Warren from Saddleback Community Church and Chuck Smith from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Both men opened the evening program in prayer. Warren commented earlier that day, "For people who ask if crusade evangelism still works, I have two words for you…Greg Laurie."
The Sunday evening program also featured a special concert from internationally renowned singer-songwriter Chris Tomlin and the crowd sang along to verses of songs like, "Indescribable" and "Forever" while an eight-minute fireworks display lit up the darkened Angel Stadium.
Not only was the Southern California Harvest attended in-person by 126,000 people, it was also attended virtually by tens of thousands of people from 111 countries via live Internet broadcasts and, for the first time, streamed lived to iPhones. The internet broadcasts, which are now archived and available for viewing, generated over 100,000 pageviews on the Harvest webcast player at www.harvest.org, and were also streamed live on the website for top surf wear company, Hurley, at www.hurley.com.
Over the weekend, 400 webcast viewers filled out online cards indicating that they prayed with Laurie to make a commitment of faith.
Video podcasts and blog accounts of each message were also made available at http://blog.greglaurie.com/, as well as "behind the scenes" updates from Greg Laurie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/greglaurie.
Greg Laurie, who founded the evangelistic Harvest Crusade events in 1990, also serves as senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., one of the largest churches in the U.S. During the past 20 years, the Harvest Crusades have drawn some 4 million people to events in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Laurie also serves on the board of directors for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse.
2010 Harvest Crusade events are so far scheduled for Anaheim, Calif., and Chicago.