ARLINGTON—Overflow crowds swelled Arlington’s AT&T Stadium Sunday, March 6, for Harvest America, a North Texas evangelistic event months in the making. After the stadium reached capacity, hundreds milled around large screens outside to watch Christian entertainers Switchfoot, MercyMe, Lecrae and Chris Tomlin as events within the venue were streamed live on the plaza.
Following the music came a message by California mega-church pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside.
Hundreds of thousands in 123 countries also tuned in via radio, television, Internet stream or remote broadcast at 7,200 host locations, crusade organizers reported, adding that 750 local churches were involved in bringing Harvest America to Texas. More than 350,000 attended the event or viewed it at a host location or via webcast.
Groups from Southern Baptists of Texas Convention churches joined the 82,000 in attendance inside and out to hear Laurie’s message of hope and salvation from Scripture. SBTC churches also numbered among those providing nearly 5,000 counselors and volunteers for the event.
Harvest America reported that 6,300 in attendance responded to the gospel invitation issued by Laurie. Additionally, more than 18,000 professions of faith were made at host locations and 1,042 more were made through the online webcast, bringing the total number of professions of faith to more than 25,000.
Laurie’s message focused on John 3 but included personal illustrations of his childhood with his often-divorced mother and kindly stepfather. Referencing Clint Eastwood’s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” Laurie explained that until her salvation, his mother was “the bad,” not unlike the woman at the well in Samaria. His stepfather was “the good,” an educated, moral professional who still needed Jesus. As for “the ugly,” Laurie explained that this meant, “you and me. You need Jesus.”
“The good, the bad, the ugly, that’s all of us because of sin. Everybody needs Jesus, and that means you. You need Jesus.”
Laurie continued, citing not only Pascal’s metaphor of the “God-shaped vacuum” within humans but also quoting celebrities regarding the spiritual emptiness characterizing those who appear to have it all. “Everyone is lonely.”
Alluding to the millennial generation as “increasingly lonely,” and referencing Pew Research Center findings, Laurie said millennials spend 6.5 hours a day on social media. “They have large numbers of friends but an increasing sense of loneliness.”
Affirming salvation through faith, Laurie underscored the insufficiency of religious beliefs for salvation. “Heaven is not for good people. Heaven is for forgiven people. You don’t need a little religion. You need a lot of Jesus.”
Laurie emphasized John 3:16, focusing on God’s love. “The thief on the cross was probably a murderer, a terrorist, planning to overthrow Rome. Jesus said, ‘Today you will be with me in paradise.’ It’s a gift.”
Laurie closed with a clear presentation of the plan of salvation and an invitation to the assembled crowd to confess their sins and acknowledge Christ as savior. Thousands poured onto the field at AT&T Stadium, “not to catch a pass,” as Laurie said, “but to make a stand for Jesus.”
“Today is the day of salvation. Now is your time. Acknowledge that Jesus died for you. Repent. Change your direction. Hang a U-turn in the road of life, and go to God.”
Those receiving counseling and prayer also received Bibles from Harvest America staff and volunteers. Among volunteers and those in attendance were many from SBTC churches, including Prestonwood Baptist in Plano and First Baptist Dallas.
Prestonwood supplied nearly 1,000 volunteers as decision counselors, choir members, ushers, security staff, and parking attendants in addition to contributing more than $100,000 to help cover Harvest America expenses before the event.
“Harvest America was exceedingly more than we could have asked for or expected. To see thousands streaming down to the field at AT&T Stadium after the invitation is a sight that will be etched in our memories forever. My prayer is that Harvest America will be a catalyst for a renewed commitment to evangelism by churches all over the world,” said Prestonwood pastor Jack Graham.
“As for Prestonwood, our involvement and preparation for months leading up to March 6 were truly a blessing as they led us to become even more evangelistic in our approach to everyday ministry. Harvest America has come and gone, but the harvest is still plentiful in North Texas and there is much to do as the Church.”
Smaller churches were engaged as well. First Baptist Church of Bullard brought eight adults and 24 youth, one of whom was saved.
“We were surprised by the turnout. We arrived an hour before the event and barely got seats behind the black curtain. We watched the evening on the Jumbotron,” said Tony Shafer, FBC Bullard youth pastor. “This did not ruin the evening at all. Just being there, bringing students from a small town, seeing [82,000] people worshiping God, made a huge impact. The message was spot on. God touched us and moved us. I know the evening will have an impact on lives moving forward.”
Amy Fullen, First Baptist Bullard administrative assistant who attended as a volunteer with her daughter, a high school senior, echoed Shafer’s enthusiasm. “It was wonderful to be in the mass of Christians like we’ve never seen and good to see the diversity, too. People came from all walks of life. The message was just what our group needed.”
“Harvest America was truly an incredible experience. It was so exciting to see thousands of people place their faith in Jesus at the end of the night,” said SBTC Director of Evangelism Nathan Lorick.
“The event was a great example of how God uses churches working together for the common goal of the gospel being proclaimed. I am convinced that God will continue to use SBTC churches in the same way across Texas as we work together to see one million homes reached with the gospel.”
Watch the archived webcast at harvestamerica.com.