ANAHEIM, Calif. The 22nd annual Harvest Crusade Anaheim drew 115,000 people to Angel Stadium Aug. 12 to 14 as part of a one-two punch of evangelistic outreaches in Southern California this summer.
The second swing comes Sept. 10, when crusade organizers bring a one-day gathering to Dodger Stadium.
The Anaheim eventwhich featured pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton and Louis Zamperini, a 94-year-old former Olympian and WW II vet.
Hamilton told the crowd about the traumatic shark attack she survived, when she was 13, that changed her life. Her story has since hit the big screen in the movie, "Soul Surfer."
"I saw the beauty in it and [God] turned the bad into good," said Hamilton.
The crusade was a cooperative effort between 215 churches and Harvest Christian Fellowship, which sponsors the crusades. According to organizers, people from 34 states and 11 countries were in attendance and heard the likes of Christian musicians Kutless, Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli, Jars of Clay, Red and Phil Wickham.
While the stadium event drew strong crowds, the crusade also made an impressive showing on the Internet where people from 50 states and 63 countries worldwide watched the Harvest outreach. The live webcast received 404,222 views and more than 1.3 million views between live and archived contacts.
Accenting each evening was a message by evangelist Greg Laurie, founder of the crusades. On Sunday night, before 45,000 people, Laurie shared the story of the prodigal son in a sermon he called "Home Before Dark."
"When I was a boy, my mother used to tell me to get home before dark," Laurie said. "My mom was the prodigal daughter, but she came back to the Lord before she died. She made it home before dark."
He urged the crowd not to wait to come home.
"Don't put off your decision to come to know Godyou don't know if you'll have a tomorrow," said the evangelist, who lost his 33-year-old son Christopher in a 2008 car crash. "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."
In all, 11,905 people responded to the altar calls at Angel Stadium, while another 376 made similar decisions through the online broadcasts.
Dodger Stadium crusade to coincide with 10th Anniversary of 9/11 attacks
The Los Angeles crusade, with participation commitments from more than 230 churches, is designed to have a more urban flavor than the Anaheim gathering and will feature music by Chris Tomlin, Kirk Franklin, Jeremy Camp and The Katinas. Interpretation services will include Spanish, Korean and signing for the deaf.
Laurie, tapping into the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 the next day, will present a message on "Why Tragedy?"
"The message of hope that will be presented at the Harvest outreach at Dodger Stadium is for everyone, from gangbangers to corporate CEOs, and from atheists to the devoutly religious," Laurie said in a statement. "The message of the gospel is especially appropriate during a weekend that will commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 since it's a weekend when people are reminded of their own mortality and are seeking answers about why terrible things happen in the world."
A "Boxes of Hope" food drive, benefiting the Fred Jordan Mission, will be featured. Participants are asked to bring non-perishable food items.
The Los Angeles Crusade starts at 6 p.m., with gates opening at 4:30 p.m.
Admission to the crusade is free, but parking at Dodger Stadium is $15 for cars and $35 for buses.
For more information, go to www.la.harvest.org.