By Michael Ireland —
More than 100,000 people turned out in person and an additional 325,000 watched online the 29th annual SoCal Harvest at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California from Aug. 17 – 19.
Bibles in hand and friends by their sides, thousands poured into the stadium venue ready to hear the Gospel and a call for revival by pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie, who was joined by Christian artists Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, and Phil Wickham over the course of the weekend.
Laurie spoke each night of the SoCal Harvest, placing special emphasis on California’s—and the nation’s—need for revival.
Laurie, who has likened the current state of our nation to the historically turbulent time of the U.S. in the 1960’s and 1970’s that ignited the spiritual revival known as The Jesus Movement said, “Our state and our country need a spiritual awakening, and that starts right here, right now, with us. The last great revival in our country began in California, and we say, ‘Lord, do it again!’”
More than 10,000 people responded to Laurie’s invitation each night to make a commitment of faith in Christ by walking onto the field of the stadium to pray with a Harvest team member standing by, or by indicating their faith decision through the SoCal Harvest live internet broadcast.
Attendees of this year’s SoCal Harvest were encouraged to bring their Bibles to the event in order to make a public show of solidarity with the Word of God through a social media campaign called #StandWithTheBible. The campaign was a response to a Bible billboard controversy that made national headlines in the days and weeks leading up to the event when a local real estate company removed billboards from Orange County’s Fashion Island mall—one of the area’s largest and most prominent malls— as well as the Irvine Spectrum, after receiving complaints and at least one “serious threat” because the ads featured an image of Pastor Laurie holding a Bible.
“Hold up your Bibles—we are not ashamed of the Word of God. In fact, even non-believers know that there is power in this book,” said Laurie.
“Everything you need to know is in the Bible, no matter if people don’t want it displayed on a billboard or anywhere else. Who is the Bible for? It’s for you. It’s for people who want to know the meaning and purpose of their lives. It’s for people who want to get to heaven. When trouble comes into your life, this is the first book you should go to. Ten years ago when our son Christopher died in a car accident—the worst day of our lives—what got me through it was this book.”
Laurie said, “The message of the Bible answers all of our questions: Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? God says He created you, He loves you, and He has a plan for you. You can put your faith in Christ and be forgiven of your sin in a moment—it can happen for you tonight.”
The Facebook Live viewership of the event experienced a 177% increase over last year. This year, Harvest partnered with 81 Christian organizations, churches, and social media influencers to broadcast the SoCal Harvest live on these organization’s Facebook pages.
Joining Laurie throughout the three-night event were top Christian recording artists including Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, Phil Wickham, Passion, Jordan Feliz, Andy Mineo, Lincoln Brewster, and Dennis Agajanian.
In addition, Laurie interviewed actress Madeline Carroll, star of the film, I Can Only Imagine, about her faith during the Sunday evening program. Furthermore, some of the top Freestyle Motocross riders in the world, including Jimmy Fitzpatrick and the “Fitz Army,” Jarryd McNeil, Taka Higashino, Destin Cantrell, and Todd Potter, were on-hand for an FMX show that took place on the track inside Angel Stadium on Saturday.
In addition to founding the Harvest Crusades, Laurie also serves as senior pastor of one of the largest churches in America, Harvest Christian Fellowship, which has campuses in Riverside and Irvine, California, and Maui, Hawaii. He also serves on the board of directors for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.