Jesus Revolution movie leads to mass baptism


By Steve Rees —

After hosting what may be the largest, one-day baptism in American history, Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor Greg Laurie and Jesus Revolution movie Director Jon Erwin announced the popular film is headed to Mexico and Brazil, where they expect record numbers of baptisms will continue.

“I can tell you right now, we’ve never had anything like what we saw. It’s never happened before,” Laurie said of the 4,500 people who were baptized in the Pacific Ocean on July 8th after traveling from across the nation and around the world.

“I could say very safely say it’s among the largest for sure,” Laurie said of the hours-long service at Pirate’s Cove, the southern California beach where he and wife Cathe were baptized 50 years ago. It’s also the location for the first sermon Laurie preached as a younger man of God.

One hundred disabled people were also baptized on the main beach.

A woman sent Laurie a message after she and her husband joined the long line of people waiting to get onto the beach.

“My husband and I showed up to Pirate’s Cove today and got baptized together. We accepted Jesus into our hearts and into our marriage. My worries, fears, anger and sadness have been washed away. God was with us today and I felt His presence. We will be attending Harvest Fellowship now in person rather than watching online,” the woman wrote.

Laurie baptized his grandchildren Stella and Christopher, calling it a joy and honor.

As for the Jesus Revolution film’s inspirational baptism scenes at Pirate’s Cove, they encouraged “almost every person” in his or her obedience to the Lord, said Laurie.

His friends in the United Kingdom tell Laurie people who see the film stand and cheer. In Ireland and Scotland reactions are similar.

Dubbed into Spanish, the film is headed to theaters in Mexico. Jesus Revolution is also headed to Brazil and, in the United States, it’s coming to Netflix on July 31st.

Laurie told Erwin, who visited Harvest Christian Fellowship for worship, he was grateful to the director for bringing to life part of the Jesus Movement story in film, as well as telling the origins of his church along with the testimonies of how he and Cathe came to faith in Jesus.

“The thing that seems to resonate with so many people are these baptism scenes,” Laurie said.

It was a very cold day in March, Erwin recalled, filming baptisms in the icy Pacific Ocean.

“One of the things that we were most afraid of was the temperature of the water,” Erwin said, “because we couldn’t extend the filming into the summer.”

So Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus in The Chosen and Jesus Revolution, prayed for a heat wave.

“It hit and it was too hot,” said Erwin, recalling the temperatures during filming were as high as those for the recent record 4,500 baptisms.

“What we felt on the beach was what we felt while filming the movie. It was the most magical day of my career.

“I remember Jonathan told me, ‘This is real. These are not movie extras. People are coming to be baptized for real,’” Erwin said.

Other people told Erwin during filming of the baptism scene, “The Spirit of God is here.”

 “It was our hope during filming that people watching would accept Christ,” Laurie said. “You found a way to convey what salvation is like through the movie’s baptism scenes,” he told Erwin.

After watching the film, people went down to Pirate’s Cove in the middle of the night baptizing each other, recording it in a TikTok video sent to Laurie.

He heard another story of people getting baptized in a fountain outside of the theater where Jesus Revolution was playing.

“This is something God is using as a powerful tool to touch people,” said Laurie, noting movies are this nation’s second-largest export.

Erwin said an exciting aspect of the film’s spread is that Brazil, Mexico and Netflix are paying for it.

“It’s happening again this weekend with the Sound of Freedom and a whole other round of headlines sounding its success,” Erwin said.

Deadline, a trade publication, wrote the faith-based audience maybe the link to the post-pandemic, box- office slump, Erwin said.

“Our voice is being heard loudly,” he said. “There’s never been a moment in entertainment in my lifetime like this where Christianity is making a comeback, and we’re doing that with Jesus Revolution,” Erwin added.

People all over the nation and world want to be baptized, Erwin said.

The most baptisms in America – at least by the largest denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention – were recorded in 1972, the culminating year of the Jesus Movement.

“My prayer is, ‘Can that record be beaten? Can there be more baptisms in America this year or the next than (back) then?’” said Erwin, noting that 4,500 people in one day is a good start.

The baptism and salvation numbers are reasons to give God thanks, said Laurie of a July 1-2 Harvest Crusade, where 32,500 turned out over two nights.

“I wasn’t happy about turning thousands of people away but there was such demand and interest,” Laurie said.

Altogether, 3,735 people came forward to make a profession of faith to follow Christ, a 12-percent response.

Online 215,317 people watched the crusade. Of those viewers, 3,059 professed faith in Jesus, totaling 6,794 new disciples.