Once a lost boy and now a well-known evangelist, Greg Laurie is letting millions of people into the journey of his personal life, much of which he didn't want to revisit.
But the southern California evangelist, whose events have drawn some 4 million people worldwide since 1990, wanted to tell his story to give anyone living a less-than-perfect life hope that there is redemption.
"Lost Boy: The Documentary" makes its national television debut Thursday and will also run on Friday on Daystar Television Network. After the documentary premiered last month via webcast, the evangelist and megachurch pastor has been on tour to show the film and testify how God intervened in the midst of his dysfunctional childhood.
"My life should have been a complete disaster," Laurie said in a sermon earlier this year at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif. "I could've ended up in a lot of places but God intervened and changed my life.
"God can take bad things and turn them into good things."
Laurie grew up with five different stepfathers. His mother, a Marilyn Monroe look-alike, went through seven marriages and would stay out most of the time, partying and getting drunk. Laurie was conceived out of wedlock and discovered, in his forties, that he was the product of a one-night stand. Most of his life, he believed his father was the first man his mother married. With no one to call "dad" and his mother never at home, Laurie questioned his existence.
"When you find out you're illegitimate, that you weren't planned, that's kind of disconcerting," he said. "You ask yourself 'Was I really meant to be? Was I a mistake? Is my life an accident? Or does God have a plan for me despite my rather inauspicious beginnings?'"
Throughout his childhood, Laurie witnessed men abusing his mother, was sent to military school twice and was "passed around" often between grandparents and other family members as his mother struggled to take care of him.
Soon, as a teen in the 1960s when rock stars and celebrities seemed to have all the answers to the meaning of life, as the documentary states, Laurie found himself in the alcohol and drug scene that he wanted to avoid after years of seeing his mom suffer. He felt life was empty.
Still, he knew there was a Jesus and that he performed miracles. But he didn't know much else about Jesus or about Christianity and tried hard to avoid the "Jesus freaks" at his high school.
But initially drawn by a girl, Laurie came to join that crowd after hearing the Gospel.
"I've heard the Gospel before," Laurie said, explaining the moment he heard one of the Jesus freaks preach to a small group on campus, "but for some reason, it made sense to me then."
"Lost Boy: The Documentary" features footage of Laurie's past and his conversion to Christianity during Southern California's Jesus Movement as well as music from the hippie era. It also shows Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel, leading thousands of young people, including Laurie, to Jesus Christ at that time.
"I can't change my past," Laurie said. "But I don't have to be controlled by my past either."
"God had a plan for me even though I was illegitimate because there are no illegitimate children in the eyes of God. No child is a mistake. I never had an earthly father, but one day, I discovered I had a father in heaven."
"Lost Boy: The Documentary," presented by New Revolution Entertainment and Harvest Films, is available on DVD and is also in book form.
On the Web: blog.greglaurie.com