What keeps me still going after 30 years of Harvest Crusades

Harvest has held large-scale evangelistic events at Angel Stadium for 32 years.

Organizers say that 32,000 people attended in the Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, and 3,488 people made decisions for Christ on Sunday, August 30, 2015, for Harvest Crusade Anaheim.
Organizers say that 32,000 people attended in the Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, and 3,488 people made decisions for Christ on Sunday, August 30, 2015, for Harvest Crusade Anaheim. | (Courtesy of Harvest Ministries)

Over 6 million people have attended in person, and over 600,000 have made professions of faith to follow Jesus Christ.

When I started these crusades, I was in my late 30’s. Now, this December, I turn 70.

People often ask me why I’ve done this for so long.

Honestly, these events are a lot of work.

They take months of planning, asking thousands of people to volunteer their time and energy, not to mention the considerable expense to put on a free event for a packed-out stadium each year.

As the event approaches each year, I come under a lot of pressure and spiritual attack.

Calling it a day and thanking God for all He has done these last three decades would be easy. But here we are doing it again at Angel Stadium this weekend.

Buy why?

Because of the power of the Gospel.

The Apostle Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).

The word that Paul uses for “power” is from the Greek word “dunamis,” which translates to “explosive power.” There is explosive power in the simple message of the Gospel.

We have seen God change lives over the years in supernatural ways. Marriages are healed, addictions are overcome, suicidal people are given new hope, and the list goes on. But the most important thing for all those who have prayed to ask Jesus into their life down on that field after the invitation or altar call, as it is sometimes called, is this: their eternal address changed from Hell to Heaven.

If we as Christians believe in an afterlife, specifically Heaven and Hell, how can we sit by complacently, knowing that we have loved ones who could potentially face a future judgment? The Bible says, “To him that knows to do good and does not do it, is sin” (James 4:17). It’s called the sin of omission. The sin of commission is knowing what is wrong and doing it anyway, like breaking a commandment. In contrast, the sin of omission is knowing what is right and not doing it. 

Let’s say you were walking down the street and saw a house was on fire, and a family was trapped inside, screaming for help. You might choose to be a hero and rush in and try to save them. At the very least, you would call 9-1-1.

But what if you saw this home in flames with a family sure to perish inside, and you just kept walking? That would be criminal. Now, take that analogy and think about your family, your friends, and your neighbors. Their situation is worse than a house fire.

Do they know there is a God in Heaven who loves them?

That is where you and I come in.

The Bible asks, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Rom. 10:14).

Unless someone tells them.

God’s primary way of reaching nonbelievers is through the verbal articulation of the Gospel. Some argue, “I don’t have a gift for preaching. I will just be a good example of what a Christian should be!”

By all means, please be that. God knows we need to be good examples.

But Jesus did not say, “Go into all the world and be a good example!” Instead, He said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Mark 16:15).

To preach the Gospel, you need to articulate the message.

But the most challenging part of sharing the Gospel is getting the conversation started. So, I have a tool for you that has worked powerfully and effectively for thousands of believers for three decades of Harvest Crusades in New York City, Philadelphia, Seattle, Oahu, Atlanta, and even Australia and New Zealand.

Invite someone to the Harvest Crusade. Even if you aren’t in SoCal this weekend, you can attend for free via livestream.

You can start the conversation with, “Have you heard about the SoCal Harvest at Angel Stadium?” People might say, “Oh yes, I have seen the billboards and the bumper stickers.”

Then you ask, “Would you like to go to one with me? It’s a free event with amazing music and a message that could change your life.”

Let’s take advantage of the SoCal Harvest Crusade this weekend.

Don’t send someone, bring them. Eighty-five percent of those that come down to the field to follow Christ were brought to the stadium by a friend. Be that friend to someone. Extend that invitation.

I hope to see you there!

P.S., For those asking how long I plan to continue my crusade work:

I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with Billy Graham toward the end of his ministry. I attended and helped him with his message preparation and had a front-row seat to watch the greatest evangelist of modern times. It’s as though I enrolled in the finest evangelistic university on earth. Billy kept preaching the Gospel well into his 80s. I figure, God willing, there are many more people to reach. So as long as I have breath, I will preach the Gospel.

Greg Laurie is the Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship and the speaker at the Harvest Crusades. He is also the author of Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus: A Spiritual Biography of Rock And Roll.

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