(Photo: Harvest Crusade)
Although assured of his son's place in heaven, evangelist Greg Laurie told thousands in Philadelphia that he will never be at peace with his son's death.
At the same time, he will never be at peace with his own death or anybody else's, he said, because "death is the enemy."
Laurie spoke to some 45,500 people at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, where he conducted his second three-day Harvest Crusade since the death of his oldest son, Christopher.
In the months following Christopher's death on July 24, Laurie has been blogging thoughts and memories about his son and how he has looked to his Christian faith while coping with the tragedy.
"Dads want to protect, provide, and 'fix things.' But I cannot 'fix' this. I cannot bring him back," Laurie wrote in a blog in August.
"Then again, he really does not need Dad’s help this time. He is now with his heavenly Father who, needless to say, is doing a much better job than his earthly one could ever do," he added.
Christopher was 33 when he died in a car accident less than a month before the 2008 Harvest Crusades kicked off.
Messages on the brevity of life and about heaven and hell have resonated in Anaheim and now in Philadelphia. A "down-to-earth talk about heaven" was this year's Harvest theme even before the July accident, but the sudden loss of his son has made the message more personal and even more urgent than the current financial crisis.
"I want to talk about the weightiest matters ... that are more important than how the stock market is doing, more important than how your day is going or how your career is going," Laurie told the Harvest crowd Friday.
"These are the most important issues we will ever discuss together because ... life on earth ... is like a blip on the screen," he emphasized.
While still suffering over the passing of his son, Laurie gave the gathered thousands good news, telling them that death does not have the final word.
"God has the final word," stressed the evangelist, who noted he wasn't a hellfire and brimstone preacher, but a Jesus preacher.
"Christ has overcome death because he died on the cross and rose again ... When a believer in Jesus Christ dies, he goes immediately into the presence of God."
Some 3,365 people made decisions to accept Christ during the Oct. 3-5 event. Laurie's third and final 2008 Harvest Crusade is scheduled for Oct. 19 in New York City.