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First-Ever Dodger Stadium Harvest Crusade Draws Grand Slam Turnout for God on Saturday Night
Some 50,000 Attendees Raise Their Hearts and Voices to God—and Virtual Candles to 9/11 Victims—as Los Angeles Outreach Sees Largest Faith Response in Harvest Crusades History
LOS ANGELES, Calif., September 12, 2011— When was the last time you saw someone in Los Angeles approach three perfect strangers, hug them, and say "I love you?" It may be a first and it happened at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night, Sept. 10, where Harvest Crusades with Greg Laurie did something else that has never happened in L.A.—drew 50,000 people to the iconic stadium to hear a message of God's love.
Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Harvest Crusade at Dodger Stadium—called the Los Angeles Harvest—came at a time when people across America are still asking, "Why, God?" Harvest Crusades founder Greg Laurie answered the question head on, addressing not only the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11, but also his own personal tragedy in the loss of his son three years ago in a car accident.
"I don't know why bad things happen," Southern California pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie told the multitude gathered at Dodger Stadium. "But here's what I do know. I know that God loves me. And I know that I will see my son in heaven because he put his faith in Christ and I put my faith in Christ. We will see one another again," proclaimed Laurie as the crowd erupted in cheers.
From the moment it opened to the last song and prayer, the Los Angeles Harvest—the first-ever Harvest Crusade to be held at Dodger Stadium and just the second ever to be held in Los Angeles—delivered on its promise to be an evening of great hope, celebration, and praise for God. Hosted by more than 340 area churches, and featuring evangelist Greg Laurie, special guest WWII POW Louis Zamperini, and top Christian musicians Chris Tomlin, Kirk Franklin, Jeremy Camp, and the Katinas, the outreach brought much-needed encouragement to the City of Angels.
A highlight of the Los Angeles Harvest included a 9/11 virtual candlelight memorial in which thousands of attendees downloaded a candlelight app to their mobile devices and held them up as the crowd stood and sang "God Bless America." However, the most moving moment came when Laurie invited people to come forward and put their faith in Christ. Thousands flooded the Dodger Stadium outfield—so many, in fact, that the fire marshal had to step in to stop the flow onto the field (a first for Harvest Crusades). Those who didn't make it to the outfield were met in their seats by counselors, who distributed some 7,700 Bibles.
By the end of the evening, some 5,934 people put their faith in Christ—the largest number ever to come forward at a Harvest Crusade event. In addition, 119 people made the same decision via an online broadcast of the Harvest Crusade.
"Tonight, I accepted Jesus into my heart," proclaimed 7-year-old Natalie Amezcua, one of the nearly 6,000 people who responded to the altar call issued by Laurie. "It is not only a day of healing from the 9/11 attacks, but a day that marks a new beginning for our daughter," said Natalie's tearful mom, Janette Corbera.
Apart from the crowds gathered at Dodger Stadium, the Los Angeles Harvest was broadcast on the internet, where people from 80 countries around the world watched the Harvest outreach. There were 35,733 webcast player views that generated 573,495 stream hits. In addition, 119 webcast viewers filled out online cards indicating that they prayed with Laurie to make a commitment of faith. The Harvest outreach is archived and available for viewing at la.harvest.org.
Greg Laurie, who founded the evangelistic Harvest Crusade events in 1990, also serves as senior pastor of one of the largest churches in the U.S., Harvest Christian Fellowship, which has campuses in Riverside and Irvine, Calif. During the past 22 years, the Harvest Crusades have drawn some 4.3 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.