(Photo: Harvest Crusades)
Kicking off his 20th year of evangelistic crusades, Pastor Greg Laurie preached to more than 19,000 people in Rapid City, S.D., reminding them of how temporary life on earth is.
"250,000 people enter eternity every single day," Laurie said at the weekend Black Hills Harvest Crusade at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center."Life just comes and goes like that."
"The Bible says life is like a story that's already been told."
For Laurie, whose outreaches have drawn more than 3.8 million people over the last two decades, the brevity of life became more real to him when his 33-year-old son, Christopher, died last July in an automobile accident.
Ten months after the tragic death, Laurie said he's still weeping.
"But I want you to know this," he told the crowd. "Never for a moment did I doubt where my son was."
"He's with God in heaven because he put his faith in Jesus Christ, not because he was Greg's son but because he was God's son."
Laurie's younger 23-year-old son, Jonathan, testified Saturday night that although he grew up an evangelist's son and attended nearly every Harvest Crusade, he was only a nominal Christian who was engaged in the party scene.
The death of his brother, however, made him realize that he wasn't as "invincible" as he thought he was. Taking the advice he had received earlier from his brother, Jonathan quit his double life as a Christian on Sundays and partier the rest of the days and gave his life to Christ.
Evangelist Greg Laurie made it clear to the Harvest crowd that being a Christian is not just following a creed or going to church on Sundays.
"There are a lot of people running around today that say they're Christians but aren't," Laurie said.
"Being a Christian is having Jesus Christ, the living Savior himself, come and take residence in your heart," he emphasized. "Change has to happen on the inside."
Change happened for 1,519 people who committed or recommitted themselves to Jesus Christ over the three-day event.
Laurie admitted on his blog that not everyone who makes a decision for Christ go on to become Christians.
But many who accept Christ do have their lives transformed, he said.
"We have seen so many lives turned around, families saved, destructive lifestyles turned from, and the list goes on. Many are in ministry today as well, serving in the mission field or becoming pastors of churches," he noted.
More than 100 Black Hills-area churches united to host the Harvest Crusade, the first large-scale evangelistic outreach in the area in ten years.
Next month, Laurie will speak at the second 2009 Harvest Crusade in Long Island, N.Y., before hitting Anaheim, Calif., in August where he will mark 20 years of large-scale evangelistic outreach.
Harvest Crusades began in Southern California in 1990.