Street Evangelism and Online Chat Encourage Decisions

Harvest Christian Fellowship's evangelistic outreach, Harvest Crusades, has brought one-on-one contact to a new dimension last night through online and in-person sharing and counseling.

The 16th annual Southern California Harvest was broadcasted live on the Internet. The website almost crashed the first night when it received two million hits. 

People watched the crusade from Canada, Argentina, South Korea, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Mexico, China, Japan, Australia, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

Online, Web counselors conducted 52 chat sessions with people watching the crusade over the Internet; 3 of them accepted Christ and 23 rededicated their lives to Christ.

On the ground, street evangelism didn't do poorly either. Some 8,000 people were invited to the Harvest Crusade and 81 led to Christ during the course of the day by Students With a Testimony - SWAT - Team.

Lesley Saladen, 19, counseled a woman who was suffering from agoraphobia, a fear of public places, and it just so happened that evangelist Greg Laurie's message was on phobias.

"I was able to share how God just wants to take our fears and burdens from us," said Saladen.

The woman was one of 1,633 people who turned towards Christ.

Importance of Follow-up

Decisions are only the first step, said Steve Wilburn, youth pastor of Harvest.

"We want to see people make a decision to Christ, but that's just the beginning," said Wilburn, 46.

"The Bible says angels in heaven rejoice over that decision, but what do you do after that? We want them to grow."

The four things that Harvest prescribes for every person who wants to grow closer to God are prayer, Bible reading, encouragement from a church, and sharing the faith.

About prayer, Wilburn said, "God created us to have fellowship with Him. Talk to Him."

Secondly, the Word enables you to learn about God's nature. "You're not going to know God until you get into His Word and get to know what He likes and doesn't like."

Fellowship, or mutual encouragement, is the third step towards communion with God. "You need to be encouraged together," said Wilburn, so "Go to church."

Lastly, the final step is to share it with others. "Get out there and tell somebody about it. Let my life shine before men and literally glorify my Father in heaven."

According to Wilburn, who has counseled for approximately 20 years, people who practice these four steps have the least problems in their lives.

"The people that respond and listen, and they take heed of what we encourage them to do, every single one of those people are greatly ingrained in their faith; and when trials come, they seem to fare so much better than others."