What do a pastor, a young pro-surfer, and a 94-year-old former Olympian and WW II vet have in common? This past weekend, each one of them—Greg Laurie, Bethany Hamilton, and Louis Zamperini—spoke to crowds gathered at Angel Stadium for the 2011 Anaheim Harvest about their shared faith in Jesus Christ.
Hosted by more than 215 churches, from Riverside to Irvine to Temecula, the Harvest Crusades with Greg Laurie marked its 22nd year of evangelistic outreach in Orange County, Calif. with a three-night event, Friday through Sunday (Aug. 12–14).
The 2011 Anaheim Harvest drew a diverse crowd of 115,000 people from 34 states and 11 countries, all of whom gathered to listen to top Christian music from artists like Kutless, Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli, Jars of Clay, Red and Phil Wickham, and to hear the faith stories of Hamilton and Zamperini. But most important was the message of salvation presented by Riverside, Calif. pastor and evangelist Laurie each evening.
Speaking to a crowd of 45,000 gathered on Sunday evening—many of them 25-years-old or younger—Laurie addressed the theme, “Home Before Dark,” drawing on the biblical parable of the prodigal son. This is a story that Jesus tells that illustrates how we are like this boy, running from God.
“When I was a boy, my mother used to tell me to get home before dark,” said Laurie. “My mom was the prodigal daughter, but she came back to the Lord before she died. She made it home before dark.”
Laurie continued: “Don’t put off your decision to come to know God—you don’t know if you’ll have a tomorrow. Tonight is your night to get right with God or to come back to Christ. You can get home before dark. If you want Jesus Christ to come into your life, he will tonight.”
By the end of the 2011 Anaheim Harvest, 11,905 people at Angel Stadium accepted Laurie’s invitation to put their faith in Christ, while another 376 made the same decision via an online broadcast of the Harvest Crusades.
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