Harvest Crusade expands its reach in Southern California


LOS ANGELES — Orange County, Calif., which for the past 21 years has enjoyed the annual Harvest Crusade at Angel Stadium, will have to share the spotlight this year as event organizers are adding a date at Dodger Stadium.

The Los Angeles crusade will be held the evening of Sept. 10 and will feature musical guests Jeremy Camp, The Katinas and Kirk Franklin. As in all Harvest Crusades, event founder Greg Laurie, an evangelist who founded Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, will deliver a gospel message.

The three-day Anaheim gathering is planned for Aug.12 to 14 and will include musical artists Francesca Battistelli, who just won three Dove awards, the David Crowder Band, Kutless, Red, and Southern California native Phil Wickham.

 "It's been 13 years since we brought our Harvest Crusade to the Universal City Amphitheater," Laurie said, "and I believe we have to dream big or stay home."

To help kick off the event, Laurie's team hosted a series of pastor information meetings across Los Angeles County in April, but before that Laurie invited nearly 250 church and ministry leaders to the official announcement in the Stadium Club, which included a luncheon featuring the iconic Dodger Dogs.

"A lot of people think the era of large-scale crusade events has passed, but in the last 21 years we have preached the gospel to four and a half million people," Laurie told his audience, adding that 475,000 people have made decisions to follow Christ, through the crusade ministry.

"God used Billy Graham in a tent in downtown Los Angeles more than 50 years ago, and I believe he is going to use this Los Angeles event to reach the hurting and the needy."

Even with the success of that event, Laurie said filling the 55,000-seat ballpark in Los Angeles will require the efforts of all of the city's congregations.

"This will be happening the day before the 10th anniversary of 9/11," he said. "We're not only interested in a cross-over ministry that breaches our denominational and cultural differences, we want to bring the cross of Christ over to the needy and the hurting of this community."

Doing so, he said, will benefit the entire fellowship of Christians.

"The church needs to infiltrate the world, and that's why we have our events in arenas and stadiums," he said. "A lot of people get intimidated when they are invited to church, but you can invite them to Dodger Stadium or Anaheim Stadium and most likely, they'll agree to come. When they get here, they'll discover—we're having church."

A major emphasis of both crusades will be a food drive for Fred Jordan Missions, a Los Angeles skid row ministry founded in the 1940s by Laurie's aunt, Willie Jordan, and her late husband, Fred.

Since 1990, Harvest Crusades has put on large-scale evangelistic outreaches around the United States and in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. More than 4,219,000 people have attended a Harvest Crusades event in person. In addition, the crusades include a strong online presence with podcasts and other digital media.

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