(Photo: Harvest Crusade)
The Greg Laurie Auckland Harvest two-night outreach event concluded Sunday evening with evangelist talking to a capacity crowd at Vector Arena about finding hope in the midst of pain and suffering.
The Auckland event is the first of the Harvest outreach’s 2011 season, which includes stops in Anaheim, Calif., and Los Angeles. Saturday and Sunday’s worship music and message were broadcast live on the Internet at Harvest.org. Musical performers on both nights were Jeremy Camp, Phil Joel, Parachute Band with Martin Smith, and The Katinas.
Laurie began his message Sunday evening by recalling the loss of his son, Christopher Laurie, in a fatal car accident on July 24, 2008. His son was 33 at the time of his death, leaving an expectant wife and child.
“To say that day was the worst day in my life is an understatement,” Laurie said. “The day my son died it felt like the air was sucked out of the room that I was in. But it is God’s word that sustained me and it is God’s word that can sustain you during your time of suffering.”
Laurie told the crowd that he can not answer the question, “Why does God allow suffering?” However, he said he wants to focus on things he does know.
“As Christians, in the end, we all live happily ever after,” Laurie said. “When we get to heaven, all those 'I don’t know' questions will fade away.”
On Saturday, nearly 10,000 people were inside Vector Arena, while about 2,000 people were turned away because of unavailable seating, according to Harvest organizers.
Laurie last visited Auckland in August 2010 when he spoke at a pair of outreach preview events held at ASB Theater in Aotea Center and Life Convention Center, which was attended by 2,750 people.
“The Kiwis are amazingly attentive and responded in a way that quite frankly shocked me,” Laurie stated in his blog after Saturday night’s event. “Out of a crowd of 9,800 people, 1,429 people responded to the invitation to commit their lives to Christ. Let me put that in perspective for you. When we do our evangelistic crusades a 10% response is usually the highest we will have. And that is very good. Last night, it was closer to a 17% response.”
The event was also broadcast across the nation on the New Zealand Christian TV station, Shine TV. Harvest organizers stated in a news release prior to the Auckland event that it was the largest outreach of its kind since Billy Graham visited the area in 1959 and 1969.
Founded in 1990, the “Harvest with Greg Laurie” events have drawn more than 4.2 million people in attendance, the organization states on its website. In 2010, online crusade attendance surpassed in-person attendance for the first time, doubling the amount of participants at events last year.
Laurie ended the evening on Sunday as he has for the past 22 years, asking people to make a commitment to Christ by coming forward, in this case, the Vector Arena floor in front of the stage.
In total, 2,777 people made decisions for Christ over the two days. An additional 170 decisions were made online.