Days after the devastating loss of his 33-year-old son, evangelist Greg Laurie stepped onto the pulpit Sunday and affirmed, "I still believe."
"I couldn't think of any place I'd rather be today than at church, worshipping the Lord," Laurie said during one of Harvest Christian Fellowship's Sunday services in Riverside, Calif.
His son, Christopher, died in a car accident on his way to Harvest, Thursday morning. His vehicle crashed into the back of a Caltrans truck on the eastbound 91 Freeway.
Laurie had to drive past the area where the crash occurred to get to Harvest on Sunday.
"Last Thursday was the most, I'll be honest with you, the most devastating day of my life and I felt like time just stood still and I couldn't imagine this happened," Pastor Greg Laurie told church attendees as he fought back tears. "But I knew he was in Heaven."
Christopher began working at Harvest as the art director three years ago. He was, as the older Laurie described him, a prodigal son at times. But in recent years, Christopher had really committed his life to Christ and was growing deep in his faith.
"My son wasn't perfect ... but the Lord was showing Christopher was really mattered," Laurie said. "We were marveling at what God was doing in his life. He couldn't have been in a better place spiritually."
Laurie and his son had a close relationship. The well-known evangelist had spoiled Christopher, giving his son what he himself couldn't have growing up in a broken home.
"If you could turn back time, sure you'd do it," Laurie said to his 15,000-member congregation. The Harvest senior pastor would even take Christopher's place if he could, he said, but he wasn't given that choice.
"So I just said, 'Lord, he's yours. I dedicated him to you when he was a little boy and I dedicate him back to you,'" Laurie said.
With over 17,000 comments offering condolences and prayers for the Laurie family on the pastor's blog, Laurie assured everyone, "I'm doing okay. The Lord is with me."
"I can't be afraid of suffering and I'm going to continue on with greater commitment," the pastor said.
Laurie is scheduled to lead Harvest Crusades beginning Aug. 15 in Anaheim, Calif., which will be his 19th annual Southern California evangelistic event. Harvest Crusades are also being held in Philadelphia and New York in October.
Even though the evangelist admitted that heaven is closer to him and earth is "less attractive" to him now, he hasn't given up on reaching out to tens of thousands of people and bringing them to Christ.
"I have a task to do and I want to do it," he assured.
And he continued his task by inviting non-Christians, prodigal sons and daughters, and others to accept Christ that Sunday morning.
"Be right with God because you don't know when life can end."
Laurie did not preach Sunday. Sermons were delivered by Don McClure of Calvary Way Ministries in Orange County.
Plans for a memorial service are still pending, but the family has set up The Christopher Laurie Memorial Fund to assist his wife, Brittany, daughter, Stella, and another daughter who is due in November.