43 turn to Christ before Harvest Crusade in Dallas even begins

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |

DALLAS (Christian Examiner) -- Even before evangelist Greg Laurie started preaching at Dallas Harvest last night, 43 people had turned their lives to Christ after 90 teens took to the streets with the Gospel message.

More than 1,100 at the American Airlines Center responded to Laurie's message about overcoming worry and finding peace amidst the stresses of life—with an estimated 275 making decisions to follow Christ in salvation, according to a Harvest Crusades spokesperson. 

"I've told others to trust in God when times are hard. If He came through for me, He'll come through for you," Laurie said, referring to losing his eldest son in an automobile accident several years ago.

The live event at American Airlines Center Oct. 5 drew 20,000, while thousands more tuned in via 4,000 simulcast and online venues from more than 80 nations. More than 175 local churches participated in this evangelistic outreach to Dallas.

The event #HarvestAmerica began trending, moving from No. 1 in Dallas to No. 1 in the U.S by the end of the night.

Laurie made it clear heaven is a destination for believers in Christ only.

"I believe all roads lead to God," he told listeners, according to a news release from A. Larry Ross. "I don't care if you're a believer, an agnostic, an atheist – whatever. I believe whatever road you're on you will get to God and you will stand before God one day. All roads lead to God. But only one road leads to heaven and that's the road through Jesus Christ."

In one spontaneous response to the message at a remote site, an event spokesperson said an elderly lady walked into a church about 10 minutes before the invitation was given and ended up making a profession of faith.

Apparently she had driven by the church on her way to the store and noticed something going on at the church. On her way home, she drove by the church for a second time. This time, she was more than curious and made a U-turn to return to the church.

"She walked in and was greeted and escorted to a front row seat," a participant said. The woman "felt like she needed to come in" and ended up making a profession of faith.

Another participant said they hosted a Harvest America event for 19 residents via DVD in the community room of their limited-income housing complex for senior citizens in Riverside, Calif.

"Some in wheelchairs, some in walkers—they sang, prayed, rejoiced, heard a great message, shouted 'Amen.' ... Let's face it the people in my complex are at the jumping off place in life. We need Jesus, too. It was a great day," the participant reported.

Fifty teens from three area churches: Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Calvary Chapel, Texarkana; and Calvary Chapel, Temple, Texas—were joined on the streets by 40 students from Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif.

Two of the youth from California said although Dallas is different, people have the same basic needs.

"The saving power of the Gospel always reaches across barriers that are set up and God was able to reveal Himself to several people that we shared our faith with," 17-year-old Josh Cervantes said. His encounter with a teen from West Dallas made a particular impact on Cervantes. "I realized that God had used us as representatives for Him by our actions more than our words."

Maria Reyes, 16, said she encountered a "young sweet girl" who had questions about God—and "reminded her that God loves her no matter what and he will never leave or forsake her, even when it feels like He isn't there. I got to love on her the way Jesus would; it was such a sweet moment for both of us."

Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano prayed for the event, the first in Texas after 25 years of evangelistic outreaches in California, nationally and internationally.

Volunteers from participating churches met people at the altar and served as ushers.

Still more will write letters to those who have made decisions. All will be referred to area evangelical churches.

"Being a part of this even puts evangelism on the front of everyone's mind," Scott Maze, senior pastor of North Richland Hills Baptist Church, told Christian Examiner. "We're looking forward to next year."

Laurie is senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, which oversees Harvest Ministries, host of Harvest Crusades. He has preached to more than 5 million individuals, with more than 434,000 making a faith commitment, according to the news release.