Evangelist Greg Laurie said he plans to give a message of hope at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., amid grief during worship services this coming weekend. The Harvest Crusades founder, who said the untimely loss of his son nearly five years ago gave him a "new ministry," will be speaking from the church's pulpit just a little more than two weeks since the suicide death of Pastor Rick Warren's son, Matthew.
"Since our son went to be with the Lord almost five years ago, I have been given a new ministry offering hope to those who are facing great difficulties in life," Laurie told The Christian Post via email Thursday. Christopher Laurie died, at age 33, in an automobile accident in July 2008.
"In the aftermath of our son going to be with the Lord, a friend of mine, Pastor Jon Courson, who lost both his wife and his daughter, brought comfort to our congregation and to our family," said Laurie. "I hope to do something similar for Rick and Kay, as well as the Saddleback Church family."
Matthew Warren died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 5 after a lifelong battle with mental illness. Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, have started a foundation for mental health in their son's name.
Laurie, whose sermon topic is titled, "Hope for Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones," said the most important thing to remember when grieving such a devastating loss is to not lose hope.
"What is hope? There is an acronym I found helpful: H.O.P.E. – Holding On with Patient Expectation," Laurie wrote in his email to CP. "God is in control of the life of the Christian and all events in our lives.
"Despite tragedies that do befall us, He has promised to somehow 'work all things together for good' (Romans 8:28). That does not necessarily mean that bad things become good, because bad things are still bad. What that passage means is, despite the bad that happens, God can bring good out of it."
Laurie said that he and his ministry partners are almost finished with a new film, "Hope for Hurting Hearts"
The film features the story of Jeremy Camp, whose wife died of cancer shortly after they were married, and how Camp was able to cope with such a tragic loss. It also features the story of Nick Vujicic, who was born without limbs, and how, despite such a difficult and severe disability, he has faced life with great hope.
"Finally, it tells the story of my wife, Cathe, and I as we have trusted the Lord in the aftermath of our son dying," Laurie said. The film, which is scheduled for release in July, also features narration by Dr. James Dobson.
In regards to speaking at Saddleback this weekend, Laurie said, "People often don't know what to say when a child dies, and there are definitely right and wrong things to say. I want to identify some of those I have heard, as well as offer biblical words of perspective that helped us cope with the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child."
Laurie is the lead pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship Church in neighboring Riverside County, the main church campus he has been leading for more than 40 years. He also preaches one Sunday service and a weekly Bible study at Harvest Orange County in Irvine. Saddleback and Harvest Orange County are both located in South Orange County.
Laurie will speak during four weekend services at Saddleback Church's main campus in Lake Forest, with service times at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, and at 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, April 21.
On the Web: http://saddleback.com.