The Angel Stadium of Anaheim is host to the Harvest Crusades and continued the tradition this year as it has for the past 26 years. Harvest Christian Fellowship is known for its evangelism and desire to share the gospel with those of Southern California. While every church should aspire to do the same, Harvest has built the Crusades as an event allowing new people to hear the gospel.
Aug. 28 through Aug. 30, musicians, played each night, featuring four-time Grammy Award winning band, Third Day, five-time GMA Dove award winning artist Jeremy Camp, contemporary singer and songwriter Phil Wickham and hip-hop crossover artist Lecrae. Phil Wickham performed for California Baptist University in the Van Dyne Gym last year.
The main speaker, Greg Laurie, became a Christian in the 1970s during “The Jesus Movement.” Under the wing of Calvary Chapel’s senior pastor, Chuck Smith, at 19 years old, Laurie became the leader of a 30-person Bible study, which later grew into Harvest, with more than 15,000 members.
“You can only be happy if you have hope in Jesus Christ,” Laurie said. “Happy are the people whose god is the Lord,” he quoted from Psalm 144:15.
Through the years, the Harvest Crusade has invited special guests like pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton, Michael “The Prince of the Mafia” Franzese and World War II veteran Louis Zamperini to draw in a diverse and large crowd.
Each artist and guest speaker proclaim the grace and love of Jesus Christ in their lives before Laurie cames out to share a message of hope and salvation to those joining the audience.
This year, the festival began with artist Wickham opening with the song “This is Amazing Grace.” Wickham led the audience in opening worship songs for the duration of the weekend.
Also included was Citizens and Saints. The weekend ended with a celebration of music and fireworks as students gathered to embrace the upcoming school year.
The main event, however, was the moment where the message of the gospel was presented to those who had never heard it before or to people who may have never understood. Laurie spoke about happiness and how to find it.
Bethany Kritzer, CBU alumna, was at the first Harvest Crusade 26 years ago and has grown up attending with her family, and now her husband and child.
“I appreciate that (Greg Laurie) truly presents the gospel; the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as the only way to salvation,” Kritzer said. “It seems foolish to some, but it is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe.”
At the end of every message, Laurie gave an invitation for those who want to commit their life to the Lord to come onto the field behind the stage to ask Jesus Christ into their hearts.
Counselors met with people who had just made the commitment to follow Christ and gave them a Bible. They shared with new believers how to pray, read the Bible, fellowship with other Christians and go to church.
“(The first time) I counseled a girl around my age,” Kritzer said. “The responsibility of teaching her how to start following Jesus weighed heavy on me. I wanted to be sure I was a good example and not encouraging others to do things I was not yet doing.”
Through the past 26 years, Harvest Crusade has seen more than five million people attend and more than 452,000 give their professions of faith in Christ.