Tens of thousands of people flocked to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday evening for Harvest America 2018, which included gospel music and a message by Southern California Pastor Greg Laurie, who invited the crowd to respond to the Gospel.
Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, shared about his difficult childhood, and how he got into drugs and alcohol. "I was going downhill fast … I was too cynical, too hard … but Christ changed my life one day. I didn't plan on it, but it happened," he said.
In today's culture, he continued, people think they can be happy only if they get rich and famous. But, he added, the "bottom line" is that "fame and wealth, possessions, all the things this world has to offer … will not make you happy."
In one week alone, he said, two celebrities — television personality Anthony Bourdain and fashion icon Kate Spade — took their own lives. Last year, 45,000 Americans took their lives, he added.
"I'm not here tonight to talk to you about religion. I'm here to talk to you about a relationship, a friendship, with God," Pastor Laurie told the crowd.
"There is someone who loves you and someone who values you. And He's called Jesus Christ," he stated, and quoted one of his favorite verses in the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
"Do you have hope tonight?" the California pastor asked the audience. He further asked if Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is "living inside of you right now"? If He is, Laurie stressed, then you'd know for certain.
We all are sinners and fall short of God's glory, and we can't do anything personally to make this right, he continued. And because of sin we will face judgment one day, he said. "But the good news is that God loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ on a rescue operation to planet earth," he explained.
Jesus was born in a manger, led a perfect life and died a perfect death. "And then He rose again from the dead," he told the crowd, and added that Jesus died in our place more than 2,000 years ago.
When the evangelist asked people to come down to the center of the stadium if they wanted to pray to accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, thousands did.
Following the tradition of late evangelist Billy Graham, the preacher featured John 14:6 (Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.) in front of his pulpit. "I was inspired to carry that 'Evangelistic tradition' forward tonight," he said.
While Laurie has been leading evangelistic Harvest Crusades throughout the country since 1990, he began a nationwide simulcast in 2012, allowing churches and homes to host the event so that more people have the opportunity to hear the Gospel.
He said he chose to preach from Texas this year because "Texas is changing rapidly, with many new people streaming in from around the nation and the world." Also, with two mass shootings having occurred in Texas, including in Santa Fe and Sutherland Springs, in the last year, Laurie said, "Even Texas needs Jesus."
The evangelist was joined by artists Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Trip Lee, as well as Phil Wickham and Switchfoot.
For Harvest America 2016, nearly 100,000 people gathered at the same stadium.