NEWCASTLE, Australia – 25,000 attendees. 2,500 volunteers. 2,400 responses. 200 churches. One message.
With a repeat of 2003’s well-attended Newcastle event, Greg Laurie’s Harvest ’05 drew more than 25,000 people (representing more than 15 percent of the city’s total population) over four nights from the Hunter region of Australia. And 2,400 people came forward after the services to commit their lives to Christ.
In a huge campaign involving 200 area churches and 2,500 local volunteers, Harvest ’05 featured California-based evangelist Greg Laurie and top musicians at each service – all focused on one message: the love of Christ.
“Is your heart troubled?” Laurie asked the crowd, speaking about the amount of stress created by the frightening things occurring in the world today. “It may look like your world is falling apart and darkness is going to overtake you, but Jesus tells us, ‘Don’t let your heart be troubled.'”
Laurie spoke each night on a series of timely topics. In a message to youth entitled “Everyday Jesus,” Laurie explained that God wants to be our companion through everyday life. “You might think, ‘God could never change someone like me!'” said Laurie. “But He can, and will, right now. The Bible says ‘If any man be in Christ, he is an altogether different kind of person. The old things have passed away. Behold He makes everything fresh and new.’ Would you like a fresh start? A new beginning? You simply have to confess your sins before God and ask him to be a part of your life.”
Laurie was quoted in the Newcastle Herald, saying, “I’ve been to Australia a number of times now. We felt the last time we were in Newcastle, something very special and exciting took place. The message resonated: the churches were unified in an unprecedented level.” Laurie continued, “Our objective is to challenge people to do more than attend,” he said. “We want them to become a functioning partner in Christianity.”
In addition to nightly talks from Laurie, each evening of the Harvest ’05 program featured music from award-winning Australian and U.S. artists, including Delirious, Rebecca St. James, Planetshakers, Hillsong/Darlene Zschech, Steve Grace and the Harvest Band.
The two Harvest Jam programs for youth on Saturday featured pounding, powerful rhythms from the chart-topping band Delirious, an acoustic set from Australian singer Rebecca St. James, and infectious tunes from Melbourne-based Planetshakers, which had the teens on their feet. But the music only served to reinforce the straightforward message about faith presented by Laurie.
Of 10,400 young people who attended the Harvest ’05 Youth Jam programs on Saturday, Sept. 10, about 1,065 stepped forward to indicate their commitment to Christ.
“When we leave this morning we leave behind thousands of changed lives,” said Harvest ’05 director Mike Brazeal. “Many have shared how their church is now much more confident and bold to proclaim the gospel. And how they now have a new pride in living their Christian faith in public. We are thrilled to be able to be a part of what God is doing here in Australia.”
In addition to Harvest ’05 in Newcastle, Harvest has hosted 2005 events in Augusta, Ga.; Athens, Ga.; Santa Monica, Calif.; and Anaheim, Calif. The final Harvest event for 2005 will be held in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sept. 14.
Greg Laurie, who founded the evangelistic Harvest events in 1990, also serves as senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., one of the 15 largest churches in the U.S. Since 1990, Harvest events have drawn more than 3.2 million people to arenas and stadiums in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
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