ANAHEIM, Calif. — More than 10,000 people made professions of faith in Jesus Christ over the 3-night (Aug. 18-20) SoCal Harvest evangelistic event held at Angel Stadium in Anaheim with more than 138,000 watching in attendance and online.
The follow-up to the throng of new believers began each night when those walking onto the outfield grass first prayed to receive Jesus, were met by a volunteer field counselor, and asked to give their contact information, including the church that may have invited them to the event.
Richard Garcia, of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, is the lead pastor over the follow-up team for Harvest events and at the church just east of Orange County.
Garcia said he enjoys his job so much that it’s hard for him to think of what he does as work. He’s been at every Harvest event since the first one held 27 years ago, first attending, then the next one as a follow-up worker. “I never stopped. I just kept going on,” he said.
When asked by TogetherLA.net what he finds most exciting about leading Harvest’s follow-up team, he said, “It has to be hanging around new believers because they have new believers zeal. It’s kind of like that new car smell, but I think of it as times (multiplied by) a billion, that zeal that they have when they first accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior. They are on fire.
“As much as they need me as the mature Christian, I need them as well because they are on fire and so it’s contagious. I’m contagious to them and they are contagious to me because I get reminded of ‘going back to your first love’ (Rev 2:4). I see them cry (in joy) and raise up their hands during worship, and I’m excited. My passion comes from them.”
This year’s SoCal Harvest came on the heels of the chaos in Charlottesville and high political tension in the nation. Greg Laurie kicked off the outreach on the first night with his message, “A Second Chance for America.”
“The solution for America is not a political one, it’s a spiritual one,” Laurie told the crowd on Friday. “We need God.”
Harvest’s executive pastor, John Collins, told TLA that current events such as the tragedy in Charlottesville coming right before SoCal Harvest often serve as a catalyst for the message of hope delivered by Laurie and musical guests.
“Those kind of things provide a great platform from which you can present the Gospel,” Collins said. “The answer isn’t cutting off free speech or protesting. The best option that we have is to simply present the Gospel. This provides a backdrop from which the Gospel can be shared.”
He added, “In the Church we all come together under the banner of Christ and there’s no barriers. All those barriers were knocked down according to Ephesians. The Lord did away with those through the sacrifice of Jesus. Even though it seems to be a bad week for the nation, it’s a great rally time for the Church.”