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Black Hills Harvest with Greg Laurie Draws more than 19,000 People to Weekend Outreach
Some 1,519 Make Decisions of Faith During Three-Night Harvest Event at Rapid City's Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, May 15–17RIVERSIDE, Calif., May 18, 2009—The Black Hills Harvest with Greg Laurie drew people from five states over the past weekend, May 15–May 17, but the lasting impact on its host city, Rapid City, may be immeasurable. More than 19,000 people—roughly a third of Rapid City's total population—flocked to the Mount Rushmore Civic Center over three nights to hear a message of God's love and redemption at the first large-scale evangelistic outreach to take place in the area in ten years.
Hosted by more than 100 Black Hills-area churches, the enthusiasm about the Harvest outreach was palpable throughout Rapid City as media aired numerous stories, students blanketed the city with flyers, and more than 1,000 volunteers showed up to help set up the stage and serve as follow-up counselors. A ceremonial greeting was even extended to Greg Laurie and the Harvest team by local Native American leaders, who presented Laurie with some beautiful mementos and later attended the Harvest event. All the prayers and support of the community came to fruition when, over the course of the weekend, 1,519 people made decisions to put their faith in Jesus Christ.
Each night of the Black Hills Harvest featured a talk from Southern California pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie and music from popular Christian musicians Third Day, Relient K, Jeremy Camp, the Katinas, and Crystal Lewis. Laurie, known for his conversational speaking style, addressed topics relevant to people of every age and stage in life: "What Do You Live For?" "Do You Want to Change Your Life?" and "How to Find Eternal Life."
Although the nightly Harvest outreach was geared to people of all ages, more emphasis was placed on youth on Saturday evening, starting with a high-energy set of songs from rock band Relient K and a brief talk from Laurie's 23-year-old son, Jonathan, who shared his personal story of faith.
Speaking to KNBN-TV, the NBC affiliate in Rapid City, Greg Laurie emphasized the importance of reaching youth. "I really think young kids are searching. I think they really want answers. In fact, believe it or not, I think they want an adult to stand up and say, here's absolute truth that you can believe in. . . I think it's refreshing for them to hear from someone that believes there is truth that can be embraced and that they can actually have a relationship with God."
The overarching message from Laurie during the weekend was simple: We make the decision where we will spend eternity. "We're all the same deep down inside—there is emptiness in every person's life that does not know Jesus Christ. But there's good news," said Laurie. "Jesus says he will never leave or forsake us. God will erase your sins if you confess them and put your faith in Jesus Christ."
Thousands of people watched the nightly live Internet broadcasts of the Black Hills Harvest, which are now archived and available for viewing at www.harvest.org. Video podcasts and blog accounts of each message are also available at http://blog.greglaurie.com/.
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 more than 3.8 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.
Harvest with Greg Laurie will hold two more outreach events this summer: one in Long Island, New York (June 13 – 14) and one in Anaheim, California (August 14 – 16).