The Bible may have been banned from billboards advertising the Southern California Harvest but that didn’t stop more than 9,000 people from making decisions for Christ at the three- day event.
Over 100,000 people flocked to Angel Stadium in Anaheim for the evangelism crusade that included music, motocross riders and a healthy dose of content from that banned Bible.
Leading up to the event, Greg Laurie’s Harvest Ministries contracted with the Irvine Company to advertise the upcoming SoCal Harvest by way of billboards at a popular mall.
The billboard depicted Laurie with a microphone in one hand while holding a Bible over his head with the other.
Irvine Company claimed the religious imagery provoked multiple complaints, including a “serious threat,” and insisted the billboards be modified. Harvest complied with the request and resubmitted new artwork without the image of the Bible. But it wasn’t enough. The Irvine Company completely removed all the advertisements and billboards for the crusade.
Laurie referenced the controversy on opening night. He began his Friday night sermon by holding up his Bible to the crowd and proclaiming, “This is the book.”
“How many of you brought a Bible with you tonight? Grab your Bible. Hold your Bible up,” Laurie told the crowd. “We are not ashamed of the Word of God. This message has been sent to us from Heaven, given to us in a book and everything you need to know about God is right here in the Bible. No wonder people don’t want it displayed on a billboard or anywhere else.”
“But here is the bottom line,” the pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship continued. “God has given us a message that we all need to hear tonight that we are going to get from this book.”
“Millions of people will attest to the fact that the Scripture has changed their lives. These words have brought hope to the hopeless, perspective to the hurting, comfort to the bereaved. These words found in the Bible have healed marriages, they have cured the addicted, but why are these words so powerful?”
The reason is because “these are the very words of God,” he said.
“Imagine if you got a text on your phone from God. Would you read it? Would you respond? I think so. A text from Jesus? Yeah, I would look at that. Listen, God has sent you a text and it is called the Bible. In fact, we even call it ‘the text.’ He’ll speak to you through this book. Nothing touches the Bible and maybe that is why it is the best-selling book of all time.”
SoCal Harvest Message in the L.A. Times
Laurie continued that message to an even larger audience. In an op ed piece in the Los Angeles Times Laurie asked, “Why is the Bible so offensive?”
“We believe the Bible is God’s love letter to humanity. It’s for people who do not want to be controlled by their passions; people who do not want so much pain in life; and people who want better relationships with others. The Bible is for people who want to know the purpose of this life and enter Heaven in the next one… It’s often said that a Bible that is falling apart is an indication of a life that isn’t. What’s offensive about that?”
This was the 29th year for the SoCal Harvest. Each night over those years Laurie offers an invitation to those who want to accept Christ in their lives to walk down to the field. This year, as many as 9,260 people made professions of faith during the weekend.
Following the event, Laurie tweeted on Monday, “It has been amazing to see God work so powerfully all these years, with over half a million people making professions of faith to follow Christ. This weekend was no exception either… To God be the Glory!”