(Photo: Don Haynes)
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Perhaps reflecting the mood near the end of the event, an Internet technician for Harvest America was so excited during the invitation by evangelist Greg Laurie to make a commitment to Jesus he jumped out of his chair in the press box during the mega evangelistic endeavor webcast live from Angels Stadium in Southern California to more than 2,200 host locations Sunday.
While manning a computer in the stadium's press box, Mark Balmer had just received a phone call. More than 200 people had made professions of faith to receive Christ into their hearts at Calvary Chapel Melbourne, his home church in Florida. About 2,500 people were in attendance at his church, which was showing the broadcast at its three campuses in the Melbourne area, as Laurie explained what it means to follow Jesus.
Balmer is just one of many Christians working for Harvest Ministries (both volunteer and staff) that were excited to know that lives had been changed because of the event.
Harvest America, perhaps the largest Christian outreach event ever in the U.S., appeared to take place without any major glitches as it was also broadcast by two Christian TV stations and more than 600 radio stations. Laurie, along with worship music artists Mercy Me, Jeremy Camp, and the Harvest Worship Band, delivered a powerful message of the Gospel during the little more than two-hour event.
On Monday, the Harvest Ministry team was still receiving reports from across the nation as to attendance and faith commitment numbers. Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas reported that 7,000 attended at its location and hundreds responded to Laurie's invitation. About 2,100 people attended the broadcast at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago where 47 people made professions of faith.
"The scope of the event has gone from a stadium event over the weekend to now over 2,200 sites that are coming and being a part of this via the Internet or satellite streaming," Harvest Executive Director John Collins told The Christian Post shortly before it began on Sunday. "It's harder to get your arms around, but the stories we are hearing around the country … churches are gathering together in theaters or high school auditoriums and they are taking on their community with this event."
Not too long after the last of those who demonstrated their commitment to Jesus by walking onto the outfield grass to pray with Laurie and receive a Bible from a Harvest counselor at Angel Stadium, Harvest officials sent out an email.
"Tonight saw the realization of largest evangelistic project ever taken on by Greg Laurie and the Harvest team, and we're happy to report that it exceeded all expectations," officials with the ministry stated.
At the stadium, the two-day total attendance (Harvest Anaheim was held on Saturday without the national hosting sites) was 78,000 people and more than 8,100 of those registered professions of faith after having walked onto the outfield.
"None of these numbers are as important as the individual lives that were changed," Harvest officials stated after tabulating the immediate numbers from Saturday and Sunday.
Near the end of Sunday's event, Laurie concluded his message titled "Is it possible to change our lives?" with five main points for nonbelievers to consider. As outlined during the webcast they are:
Admit that you are a sinner.
Romans 3:23 says, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
Matthew 5:48 tells us God's standard: "be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect."
Realize that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you.
John 3:16: "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Romans 5:8: "God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Repent of your sin.
Acts 17:30: "But now He commands all people everywhere to repent."
2 Corinthians 7:10: "For Godly sorrow leads to repentance that leads to salvation without regret. . ."
Receive Jesus Christ into your life.
Have you asked Jesus to come into your life?
Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if you will hear My voice and open the door, I will come in."
Do it publicly.
Jesus said, "whoever acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before My Father who is in Heaven."
Do it now.
The Bible says, "Today is the day of salvation."
Jesus said, "Whoever is not with Me is against me..."
Laurie, who founded the evangelistic Harvest Crusade events in 1990, also serves as senior pastor of one of the largest churches in the U.S., Harvest Christian Fellowship, which has campuses in Riverside and Irvine, Calif. During the past 23 years, the Harvest Crusades have drawn some 4.4 million people to events in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Laurie also serves on the board of directors for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.