DALLAS (BP)—Evangelistic emphases prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Dallas produced 4,229 professions of faith in Christ, including 2,339 at a crusade event at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
“I’m not here to talk to you about religion,” evangelist Greg Laurie told the crowd at the Harvest America crusade. “I’m here to talk to you about a relationship with God that you can experience.
“Christ can fill that big hole that is in your heart right now. We all need him. We all need a Savior. There’s so much stuff to distract us and emptiness to make us feel alone. Yet Jesus, who created us, also gives us purpose. Jesus loves us all—no matter what we do or say or have done before—so much.”
In an era of divisiveness and lost hope, Laurie brought a message of unity in Christ and salvation to a crowd of about 35,000 people. Laurie repeatedly pointed those in attendance back to the cross—back to Jesus.
Sunday night’s crusade followed a week of evangelistic Crossover activities throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Participants from all over the area and the nation came to North Texas prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting so they could take part in outreach activities such as door-to-door evangelism, reporting 1,015 commitments to Christ.
The Harvest America crusade included musical guests Switchfoot, Crowder, Trip Lee, Phil Wickham and Chris Tomlin, who kicked off the event with a mix of new music and classic songs that supported the crusade’s straightforward, evangelistic message—the world needs Jesus.
‘A future worth living’
“There is someone who loves you and someone who values you,” Laurie said. “He’s called Jesus Christ. He’ll give you a future worth living.”
In the wake of two high-profile suicides the previous week—designer Kate Spade and television personality Anthony Bourdain—Laurie’s message and the entire event aimed to send the hope of the gospel to people in attendance at the stadium and those watching at simulcast locations around the world.
“So many people in our generation and across generations are living in quiet desperation,” said Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, before the event. “Those two were celebrities. So, their stories are all in the news. Yet, many struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide.
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“So often you hear people say, ‘We didn’t know they were living in such pain.’ As Christians, this makes us aware that every person needs the Lord. There’s a hunger for meaning and purpose in life. There’s so much brokenness in people’s lives, but we know of a way they can heal from those wounds—the gospel message of hope and love.”
The Crossover Dallas and Harvest America evangelism event had global reach through simulcasting. Laurie said the event could not have come at a better time as the nation and the world seem to be on edge with each other and themselves. Graham agreed.
“People might say crusades are over, but all you have to do is look around,” Graham said of the thousands who gathered at the stadium in Arlington. “It works because it brings people together in a time when we have so much dissonance and division.”
Graham led his church and many others in the Dallas-area to mobilize their congregations to invite spiritually lost friends to the event and support it by volunteering.
“I believe in invitational evangelism,” Graham said. “We invite many to come to know and follow Christ in our churches. And in a great environment like AT&T Stadium, a crusade can bring churches together and allow a great evangelist to proclaim the gospel and invite people to Christ in an effective way.”
Christians who brought friends to the event were encouraged by how clearly the gospel was proclaimed.
“This was a great opportunity for people to hear, ‘God loves you,’” said Brian Cole, minister of communications and worship at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Cedar Hill.
Laurie ended the evening by inviting people to the stadium floor if they wanted to begin a relationship with Christ.
“No matter what, come with your sins. Come with your questions,” Laurie said to a quiet crowd. “Don’t live another day without Jesus Christ.”