(Photo: Harvest via The Christian Post)
Evangelist Greg Laurie, who was speaking to tens of thousands of people gathered at a mega outreach in Southern California Friday night, said the answer to radio host Howard Stern’s quest for happiness was Jesus Christ.
“Howard Stern, I know what it would take…,” Laurie said at the Harvest Crusade at the Angel Stadium in Anaheim as he referred to a recent interview where the famous radio and TV host confessed he didn’t know how to be happy despite his success.
“You need a relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s the answer,” the lead pastor at Harvest Church in Riverside, Calif. said, leading to a round of applause that echoed across the packed stadium.
Laurie reminded the audience that Stern had “achieved as much success as a person could hope for.” Stern makes $80 million a year, and he recently signed a five-year contract that will earn him another $400 million. Yet, the pastor added, the host was “deeply insecure and unhappy.”
“Stern was asked the question, you control your life now, you are on radio, on TV, you have a beautiful wife, you have succeeded at all of your goals, and you’re paid better than almost anyone…and yet you are not happy. What would it take to make you happy?” Laurie quoted Stern as replying, “I don’t know; it’s so complicated. I have a lot of anger inside of me. Once in a while I can douse it with some water… but it never goes away. I don’t know how to get rid of it. I just walk around angry. It’s a burden. That’s why I am trying to find balance… That would be beautiful, but I don’t know what it would take.”
Stern is married to Beth Ostrosky, former co-host of the “Casino Cinema” show. He and his first wife, Alison Berns, separated in 2001. He reportedly practices transcendental meditation.
Laurie, the speaker on day one of the three-day event, said he knew what it meant to walk around in anger. “I used to be an angry young man until I came into this relationship with God.”
The evangelist also mentioned American stand-up comedian and actor Zach Galifianakis, who made $10 million from his last film. “Yet he said in a recent interview, ‘I am not adjusting to the fame well. It’s made me more guarded. I get confused, I am private, I am emotional, and I drink too much. I don’t know. I have to figure it all out.’”
The pastor told the audience, many of who were not believers, that it was not enough to be admirers of Jesus. “Seventy to 80 percent of Americans claim to be Christians. In a poll taken in 2001, Jesus Christ was identified as the most widely admired hero,” he said. “But Jesus did not say admire me. Jesus said follow me. Are you a true follower of Jesus Christ?”
Laurie, who is holding the Harvest Crusade for the 22nd time in Southern California, encouraged the listeners not to make excuses for not making a decision to follow Christ. The number one excuse people give why they don’t go to church is they say there are too many hypocrites. “And my response is, hey there’s always room for one more, come on,” he said.
“Just because someone claims to be a Christian and messes up or falls short or does something wrong does not necessarily mean they are hypocrite; it means they are human.” A real hypocrite is someone who is putting on a performance, pretending to be something they really are not, he said. “You can fool all of the people some of the times, and fool some of the people all of the times, but you can’t fool God any of the time. God knows what is going on.”
The pastor said if there were hypocrites that didn’t mean Jesus Christ was not real or His word was not true.
“Jesus Christ will never let you down… I know this because Jesus said this in the Bible. But I know this also through a personal experience.”
Besides Laurie, special guest Bethany Hamilton also shared about her faith. Hamilton lost her arm in a shark attack when she was 13 years old, but came back two years later to win first place at the National Scholastic Surfing Association National Championship. Hamilton's faith and trust in God despite her tragic accident has inspired people around the world to keep the faith despite the storms of life.