(Photo courtesy of harvest.org)
Come Just As You Are: 2017 SoCal Harvest
By Zelda Dominguez
I remember watching Billy Graham, the evangelist, speak at his crusades on TV not really knowing what a crusade was but I remember slow hymns being sung, Graham speaking, then thousands responding. He would speak all over the world, simple Gospel truths with boldness, and affect so many lives. There wasn’t anyone that compared to him, until now, with a contemporary twist but the same message.
Greg Laurie is senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside and Orange County, California. He has also authored more than 70 books, including the newest best seller, Steve McQueen: Salvation of an American Icon, which is soon to be movie.
With the church’s foundational mission being Knowing God and Making Him Known, it’s no surprise that he would want to take steps into a new venture to continue to proclaim the Gospel message – that Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins and He offers us the free gift of eternal life.
The Harvest Crusade is a large-scale, public, evangelistic event which was a vision of Laurie and his pastor, Chuck Smith that began in 1990. With much prayer, they moved forward and connected with hundreds of churches with the help thousands of volunteers and the financial support of various denominations and thousands of donors to help make it possible. The primary design was for Christians to invite others to hear the hope of the Gospel message in a non-threatening and entertaining environment. Never would Pastor Greg imagine as a troubled child and adolescent that he would be preaching in so many venues like Angel and Dodger Stadium as well as other large venues across the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
Since 1990, it is estimated that 7.8 million people have attended Harvest Crusade events in person or via internet broadcast. At the event, Pastor Greg gives a short but relevant Gospel message, reaching a new generation. New believers who stream onto the field to accept Christ at the end of each event are met by volunteers who pray with them and later link them to churches in their local communities. It really is a beautiful thing to see when people come forth and fill the field. Really, it’s really witnessing a miracle. Both Spanish interpreting and signing for the deaf are provided each night. Overall, some 496,573 people have committed their lives to Christ as a result of this message of hope by Laurie.
The 2017 SoCal Harvest is a free event and will be on August 18th-20th, and will mark it’s 28th year. The lineup of top Christian artists who will be playing include: The David Crowder Band, Andy Mineo, Phil Wickham, Lecrae, and Jeremy Camp. Also joining the stage is recent Voice finalist, Brennley Brown and American Idol finalist Danny Gokey and winner of season six, Jordin Sparks.
Jordin Sparks accepted Christ at an early age but as she grew older Jesus wasn’t the center of her life. It was a gradual drifting as she began to place her identity in her success thinking that would bring her happiness. She admits to only leaning on her own strength and only on Him when times were tough. Things culminated and not knowing how to get back, someone invited her to an Easter service last year. She surrendered and recommitted her life to Christ. Sparks says, “Jesus does His best work when you’re broken, and He puts the pieces back together. It’s so good to be back at home.”
Have you drifted from God? The Lord knows we will fail and he is ready to give us a second chance waiting with open arms. It’s time to come back home. Or perhaps you’ve never accepted Christ? I encourage you to either come to the So Cal Harvest this year or invite someone to go. If you would like to volunteer, it’s still not too late! Lastly, if you aren’t in the area, definitely watch it online. Go to www. Harvest.org/crusades-and-events/2017, #HarvestSoCal for information.