Hoping for positive change in the United States that he says can only come through a spiritual solution, evangelist Greg Laurie is spearheading Harvest America planned for Sunday. It is his largest evangelism event in the more than three decades of his ministry's existence.
Nearly 1,800 churches and venues have signed up to host a live simulcast of Harvest America, a first-of-its-kind Christian outreach for Laurie's Harvest Ministries.
Known for his large stadium events where hundreds and often thousands of people come down onto the field or venue floor toward the end of the evening and make a commitment to Jesus, the event on Sunday is designed so that those making professions of faith will have someone alongside them at whatever venue they are watching.
"There is nothing this country so desperately needs as spiritual revival and I am so thankful that God gave this vision to Greg and the Harvest team to put this phenomenally massive outreach together," wrote Pastor Levi Lusko, who serves as the host at Harvest events. "Especially as we move towards a presidential election, everyone is clamoring for hope and change; but the answer to our country's problems isn't who is living in the White House, but rather who is coming on a white horse – Air Horse One – I'm talking about Jesus Christ!"
Heading into Harvest America, which will be held at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., The Christian Post held an exclusive interview over the phone with Laurie Wednesday. The interview is below.
CP: You've talked a lot lately about America needing a revival. Is that something Americans can be convinced of or how does that happen?
Laurie: We have to ask ourselves the question, how can we change the course of our country? If you think that it's merely a political answer you are going to be sorely disappointed. "Hope" and "Change" was used a lot during this election cycle, but the only hope and lasting change that is going to come is going to come through a spiritual solution. We look at the political climate, we look at the economic climate, we look at the moral climate, but the deepest problem of America is a spiritual problem. When we all collectively scratch our heads and wonder when some crazed gunman goes into a movie theater and shoots innocent people or another person kills innocent people in a Sikh temple, and then we ask why is this happening? Well, listen, maybe we can ask the question, why doesn't this happen more often?
I mean from the time a child enters into school they are told they are simply an evolved animal, and effectively there is no God and thus there is no right, there is no wrong, there is no final judgment. So when you teach children that they are highly evolved animals why should we be shocked when we behave like them?
Our message as Christians is that you are not an animal, you are made in the image of God, but you are also a sinner in need of a savior. I think our country needs to turn back to God. We've had at least two, maybe three spiritual awakenings that have changed the course of America. These were times when people turned in mass to Christ and their lives would change and it changed the moral climate of our nation. I believe we need another spiritual awakening.
At Harvest America we don't believe we could bring a revival about. That's something God sovereignly does, but He has commanded us to go out into the world and preach the Gospel. So revival is what God does for us. Evangelism is what we do for God. So we are praying that God will use this as we go out and proclaim His message to people.
CP: Do you feel extra pressure to deliver the message on Sunday for your biggest outreach event ever?
Laurie: I feel a great responsibility to step up to that pulpit to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ because I recognize that there are people in attendance that may never come again to an event like this or attend a church. Therefore, I want to make sure they hear an accurate, loving, relevant and thoroughly biblical presentation of the gospel. I take that responsibility very seriously and pray a lot before I go up. I do a lot of work in the preparation of the message and really my goal is to make it as simple and understandable as possible. Knowing that so many people will be listening and watching, I'm certain that will weigh on me, but I tend to just think of individuals. I don't think so much about the crowd as much as I think of a person as I'm speaking that might be listening or watching or in attendance. I try to bring the message in a more conversational manner.
CP: What keeps you grounded not only going into Harvest America on Sunday, but all of the Harvest outreach events you do?
Laurie: I have a great network of friends who keep me very grounded. If there is something that I would say or do that they would think is not what it ought to be they would tell me. I encourage and invite that. I think it's very important that we never take ourselves too seriously. However, I do take my message very seriously. Having a great team around me, a great network of friends, fellow pastors, and so forth, and my family, especially my wife, they are people I use as a sounding board before I deliver a message and they give me really accurate and honest feedback.
CP: You and your wife recently talked about spiritual attacks that occur almost like clockwork during these Harvest events. How do you combat them?
Laurie: I think just knowing they are going to come is half the battle and not to be surprised when these things take place. The Scripture says, "Think it not strange when you go through difficult trials." So we know these trials are going to come our way and there is going to be attacks from the enemy. So we pray about it and we acknowledge the source of these attacks and we pray and ask for God's protection. We ask for other people to pray for us and with us for this event because a Christian life is not a playground, it's a battleground. This is not a party, this is a war. We are not talking about physical weaponry, but we are talking about spiritual warfare. That's why I ask people, especially when we are doing evangelism to be praying. I don't think the devil would attack a Christian conference/concert or other event on the same level that he will attack an event that is evangelistic in nature. The reason for that is that when we engage in evangelism we are invading enemy territory. We are not holding ground, we are gaining ground and the devil isn't going to take that sitting down.
CP: What is the most important thing about Harvest America this Sunday?
Laurie: I think the most important thing is that every Christian participates in it. The good thing about Harvest America is everyone everywhere can be a part of it. They can obviously come to Angel Stadium on Aug. 26 and join us if you are in Southern California. If not, you can go to one of the almost 1,800 live sites that are getting a high quality HD video feed around the nation, or you can tune in on a Christian TV station or one of the 600 Christian radio stations that will carrying it and of course you can access it on the Web on your computer, your laptop, your tablet, smart phone device, etc.
But the main thing is that everybody needs to participate because we need to reach people while we can. The Bible talks about the person who sleeps during the harvest in the book of Proverbs. I think that sometimes Christians are sleeping in the harvest and we are not out there when we ought to be. I believe that to not proclaim the Gospel to someone could actually be the sin of omission. The sin of commission is doing something that we should not do. The sin of omission is not doing what we should do. The Bible says "to him that knows for the good and does not do it, for him it is sin."
So if you saw a house on fire and you knew there were people inside and yet you did not call out to them and warn them, or maybe you could run in to try to save them; at the very least, call 911. If you just walk by that would be an act of criminal negligence. Well, even more, if I believe what the Bible says about life and death and the afterlife and I believe there is a future judgment and yet I don't tell my friends and family and loved ones about it, that to me is a sin of omission.
What I'm saying is that every Christian should participate in this and either bring a nonbeliever with them to the event, get nonbelievers to join them in listening to the broadcast or watching it at a live site or in front of your computer or your TV set.
END OF INTERVIEW
Harvest Crusades without the national hosting sites will also take place on Saturday in Anaheim and at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles the following Saturday and Sunday. A live webcast of those events will be available on the ministry's website: http://harvest.org/crusades.