When 33-year-old Chris Laurie was killed in a car crash July 24, some wondered whether megachurch pastor Greg Laurie, Chris's father, would cancel his massive three-day Southern California Harvest Crusade, scheduled three weeks later in Anaheim.
But according to Harvest officials, there was little internal debate at Harvest. The only thing that changed was Laurie's nightly messages.
"I've talked about heaven my whole life, and I've given many messages on life after death," Laurie told an estimated 29,000 people at Angel Stadium August 15, the opening night of the crusade. "And I've counseled many people who have lost a loved one, and I thought I knew a little bit about it. But I have to say that when it happens to you, it's a whole new world."
Much the same can be said of Laurie's Harvest Crusades, a nationwide series of revivals that, according to crusade officials, have been attended by 3.6 million people since 1990. Chris's death leaves both a personal and professional hole in Harvest Crusades and Laurie's church, the 15,000-member Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. Chris had served as Harvest's art director for the last three years and had been a part of Laurie's ministry since he was a toddler.
"The initial reaction of the staff was just to deal with the trauma," said John Collins, director of Harvest Crusades. When the ministry heard the news, a handful of Harvest pastors, including Collins, went to Laurie and his wife, Cathe. Others gathered the staff to pray and mourn.
But no one, according to Collins, seriously discussed canceling the Anaheim event. An unprecedented wave of people volunteered to help with the revival after Chris's death — a sign, Collins believed, that going forward was "what ...