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In the Midst of Personal Tragedy, Pastor Greg Laurie Urges Audiences Totaling 109,000 to Put Their Faith in Christ During Weekend Harvest Crusade
"I'm Preaching to Me as Much as I'm Preaching to You—I Know God is Here No Matter the Circumstance."RIVERSIDE, Calif., August 18, 2008—It was just three weeks ago that Riverside, Calif. pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie learned that his son, Christopher, had been killed in a tragic automobile accident, but in the midst of what he has called the worst moment of his life, Laurie points to his faith in God and His promise of eternal life as the only true hope for healing. It was this message that Laurie shared with audiences totaling more than 109,000 during the 19th annual Southern California Harvest Crusade held this past weekend, August 15–17, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
The Orange County Register reported, "'I come here tonight with a broken heart,' [Laurie] said, starting his final-day message, "Hope for Hurting Hearts." 'I come here tonight with a cure for a broken heart as well.' Laurie went on to talk about his faith in Jesus Christ helping him to make sense of a terrible tragedy. But he said the grief is very much present. 'I'm preaching to me as much as I'm preaching to you tonight.'" (August 18, 2008)
"Some people have asked me whether I am angry at God because my son is no longer here," Laurie told crowds gathered. "But how can I be mad at a God who holds my son safely in His arms tonight? It's hard knowing that I won't see my son again on earth, but I have the assurance that Christopher is in heaven because he put his faith in Jesus. I haven't lost my son because I know where he is, and someday I will join him."
Laurie urged those in attendance to also put their faith in Christ, saying, "Heaven is not the default destination when you die. You have to choose it. Jesus Christ paid your way to heaven when he died on the cross for you, but you must make your own choice to follow Him."
The three-night Harvest Crusade was a tribute to Christopher Laurie, from the artwork he designed for the event to the video segments highlighting his life that preceded his father's message each night. But most important was the impact his spiritual legacy had on those in attendance, reminding them that life is short and that the Bible says today is the day of salvation. Over the course of the weekend, 11,084 people walked onto the field at Angel Stadium to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
In addition to a nightly message from Laurie, the Southern California Harvest Crusade featured music from Grammy winners Randy Travis and Michael W. Smith, as well as multi-platinum rock band P.O.D., Leeland, Kutless, The Katinas, Lincoln Brewster, and Crystal Lewis. The Saturday night Amplify event, designed especially for teens and young adults, drew a record crowd of 46,000 people, packing Angel Stadium for music from P.O.D., Kutless, Leeland, and Lincoln Brewster.
While more than 109,000 people attended the Southern California Harvest Crusade, the Harvest Crusade Internet broadcast, www.harvest.org, received more than 37,000 hits to the live stream on Friday night alone. The Internet broadcasts are archived and available for viewing. Video podcasts and blog accounts of each message are also be available at 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 19 years, the Harvest Crusades have drawn more than 3.6 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.
In addition to the Southern California Harvest Crusade, other 2008 Harvest events include visits to Philadelphia, PA. (October 3–5) and Madison Square Garden in New York (October 19).