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From the Archives: Hugh Hewitt Interviews Greg Laurie

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
October 15, 2022 3:00 am

From the Archives: Hugh Hewitt Interviews Greg Laurie

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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October 15, 2022 3:00 am

In this classic conversation originally aired on The Hugh Hewitt Show, radio host Hugh Hewitt interviews Pastor Greg Laurie on his testimony and preaching ministry. You'll hear details about Hugh Hewitt's previous work on looking into Harvest Crusades and more insights on how Pastor Greg started his evangelistic ministry. 

Other topics covered include:

  • Why we should keep evangelism simple
  • Hardship, suffering, and the goodness of God
  • What's changed since the Harvest Crusades began


Learn more about Greg Laurie and Harvest Ministries at

This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, and my objective is to deliver, hopefully, compelling practical insights in faith, culture, and current events from a biblical perspective. To find out more about our ministry, just go to our website,

So thanks for joining me for this podcast. I made my first television special ever about Greg Laurie and the Harvest Crusade. Until that time, I'd only done studio work for KCET in Los Angeles. I said, why don't you go out and make a movie, a 30-minute program about Greg Laurie's Harvest Crusade.

They thought it was kind of weird that tens of thousands of people were showing up in Angel Stadium. So I took a camera crew down there, Greg Laurie, and you were my first subject for my first ever television documentary. You know, I remember that, and that was fantastic.

It was a great show. How are you? I'm great, and you look the same.

Oh, no, I don't. I have white hair. You look the same. My hair is white. If we went back and looked at the 1992 show, I would have brown hair, not white hair. Well, one of the advantages of being bald is you just look the same from year to year, so it's like you age ahead of everyone, but then you kind of go into freeze frame and everyone else catches up. You know, Greg Laurie, you have been making bald jokes for two decades that I've known you. Have you, like, got a list of them in your office somewhere?

Oh, probably somewhere. Greg Laurie, let's walk through the history of Greg Laurie and Harvest, and that starts with the history of Greg Laurie. Of course, when I made that movie about you, you were 10 at the time, and now you're 30.

Yes, I was. But give people the Greg Laurie story. Well, I'm probably the least likely guy you would ever expect to be an evangelist, and then again, maybe I'm the most likely guy.

Let me explain. I wasn't raised in a Christian home. My mom was married and divorced seven times. She was like this Marilyn Monroe lookalike, and so I was raised in this crazy lifestyle with her. You know, she was a raging alcoholic, and so I had to grow up fast, too, and I had to learn to fend for myself. I never really was taken to church. I never heard about Jesus, but I always believed there was a God, and, you know, I always, and I don't know why exactly, I always believed that Jesus was there somewhere.

I'd seen all of his movies, you know, but I never really knew that much about him, and I never really knew that I could know him. Well, at the ripe old age of 17, I'm in high school. I already feel like I'm 60 because of the life I've had to live, not only fending for myself, but in many ways taking care of my mom, growing up fast, asking the big questions of life. Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life?

What's going to happen after I die? I hear a presentation of the gospel almost by accident on the front line of my high school campus. There's a group of these Christians that I thought were all nuts who would meet up there for Bible studies, and I sat down close enough to sort of eavesdrop on their conversation. No one invited me to their meeting, and a guy got up and spoke, and for the first time I heard the gospel, the message of who Jesus is presented in an understandable way. I didn't even have an opportunity for people to believe. I was one of the people that got up and walked forward and prayed a prayer, and I thought it's not going to work for me because I'm just not the religious type. I'm too cynical.

I'm too hard. I've seen too many horrible things in life already. Well, you know, my life started to change. My attitude started to change.

A weight was lifted off of my shoulders, which I realized was guilt I was carrying around. And so it wasn't long until I was doing the very thing I said I would never do, which is go out and engage strangers with the message of Jesus Christ. So about two years after I became a Christian, I started a Bible study for young people.

It turned into a church. It wasn't my plan, but it did, and it grew and grew, and now we have around 15,000 people that call our church their home, and the opportunity opened up to go into these large-scale evangelistic events. And so that's what I'm doing today. And really, it's not all that much different than what I was doing shortly after I became a believer. I'm going to people who aren't raised in the church, who maybe are cynical, who maybe are skeptical, who don't buy this, and I'm saying to them, here's the message that can change your life.

And I'm saying, give a fair hearing to it. And so this is what I've been doing pretty much for most of my adult life now, and God has blessed it, and we've seen a lot of people respond, making a profession of faith, which means that they're coming forward and praying a prayer, they're committing their life to follow Jesus. Now, I'm not saying they've all become Christians, but our job is to get this message out to as many people as we can, and it's God's job to do what he will with this message.

So that's kind of what I'm about, and that's what I like to do. And I feel like our country needs it more than ever, because I look at the cycle we're in right now. You know, I think every Christian should register and vote and be aware of the issues. But at the same time, I think the only real answer to turn our country around in the way it needs to be turned around is a spiritual revival. I'm not saying this will bring about a spiritual revival, but it could contribute toward it. Greg Laurie, you're also—the reason I first did the show about you 20 years ago for PBS is because you're the antithesis of a television evangelist. You are a motorcycle-riding, surfboard-loving, beach-bomb, and I believe the high school at which you converted was Corona Del Mar High School.

Am I right about that? It's actually Harbor High. Harbor High. You were Harbor High. Yeah, but I went to Corona Del Mar, too.

Okay, and so that was Newport Beach, down in Southern California, where Paul Revere and the Raiders and all those people were the height of beach culture and drink culture. I was just listening to them yesterday on my iPod. That's funny.

They were already golden oldies when you were a kid, so that's pretty funny. So you're the antithesis of this, and I followed you—by the way, I want people to understand, life has not been easy for you. You've had tragedy in your life. Do you want to tell people about that?

Well, sure. I mean, after all that I went through with my mom and that, I wrote a book called Lost Boy in My Autobiography, and we made a film as well that has been very well received. And so I kind of felt like, okay, it's time to tell my story, to give hope to those who have suffered out there, to tell them that regardless of how they were raised or what kind of family they had, that God can bring good out of bad. And I worked on this project, and one of the people that worked on it very closely with me was my son Christopher, who was a graphic designer and very talented.

And in 2008, on July 24th, Christopher was killed in an automobile accident. And looking back on my life, all the pain and suffering that was there in my upbringing was nothing compared to the pain of losing my son. And look, Hugh, this is the truth, and I've tried to be very honest about this.

I still struggle with it to this day. I know God is good. I know God loves me. I know my son is with the Lord.

I know that I'll see him again. But it's hard. You wrestle with it. You wrestle with the whys. And what I've come to and what I keep coming back to is I don't know the answer to the why question, so I guess it comes back to the what and the who. And the what is, well, what am I supposed to do? And I feel what I need to do is I need to glorify God with my life and say in the midst of my suffering, God has been there with me.

Look, Hugh, here's the bottom line. If God didn't come through for me during this time, I would have given up preaching. Trust me when I tell you that. But he did and has come through and does come through for me. He gives me the strength to get through each day. So that's the what.

And the who, of course, is the Lord himself. And now I have a ministry to other people who've lost loved ones, especially children. I never asked for it.

Honestly, I didn't want it. But now that it's happened to me, I have an understanding of it. And I'm not saying I understand what everyone's going through. But I find people come to me a lot and ask me for help. And I'm wanting to help them because I want to say because when it happens to you, it seems like your world is ended. And being a preacher didn't give me a leg up on this because at the end of the day, I was just a father who lost a son.

But here's what I can tell you. There is a God who loves you and a God who understands suffering. A God who understands it so well because his own son suffered and died. And actually, the Bible says that Jesus bore our griefs and our sorrows.

Yes, it's true we bore our sins. But when you go to Jesus with your pain, with your grief, with your anguish, you need to know that you have a friend in high places who understands what you're going through. And the Bible says, blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. You know, and I think we need that comfort from God to know that he can get us through this. And so, you know, there are just going to be other tragedies that will happen in life and there's never going to be acceptable explanations for them.

But I believe that, you know, these things can be allowed by God to cause us to see our own mortality. You know, one occasion, the disciples of Jesus brought up an issue of some tower that fell in a group of Gentiles, read non-Jews, non-believers effectively, and they were kind of implying, well, they deserved it. And Jesus basically put it in context and said, were they the worst sinners in all of Israel? Then he said, unless you repent, you will also perish. Here's what Jesus was saying. Look, don't say this happened to them because they were more evil than someone else.

Like some people saying, well, the attack on the World Trade Center, that was from God. No, no, no. Please listen. Bad things happen.

It's not that, oh, they were worse so they got punished. And here's what Jesus was saying. Unless you repent, you'll perish. Bottom line, we're all going to die. Bottom line, we're all mortal.

We all need to face these issues. So the thing that I want to do is help people be prepared to meet God because there is an afterlife. And I think a lot of times we talk about that as though it's just sort of this added thing. In reality, we're in the before life. The afterlife is what lasts forever. The before life is like the trailer before the film. The afterlife is like the film, if you will.

It goes on and on. And so you need to prepare for the afterlife in the before life, which we're in now. And that's what I address in our events. I talk about why am I here? What is the meaning of life?

How can I know I will go to heaven when I die? Greg, I got to ask a couple of secular. This is a secular show, right?

People driving around that just bushwhacked them. They're listening to a pastor and they expect the politics. And that's fine. A little God here will change your life. Are you better at this now than you were when I made this film 20 years ago this month? Well, I would say, you know, as you get older, you just start perhaps recognizing the things that really matter in life.

And I would say I wouldn't say I'm better, but I'm saying I'm probably more focused. I think I've learned over the years things when you present a message that aren't essential of the message. I found that for this gospel presentation to be the most effective, it's not only what I put in, but sometimes it's what I leave out.

Avoiding rabbit trails, things that are distracting. And the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. I think with what I've gone through, especially with our son going to be with the Lord, I have a greater urgency. I suppose people have told me this, that the message of hope resonates more strongly from my speaking now than it did before.

And maybe the message of eternity. So I guess in a sense, what I'm doing is better than it was before. But, you know, it's yeah, it's a practical thing. Malcolm Gladwell says, until you do something 10,000 times, you're not really going to be great at it or very good at it. I've done more than 25,000 interviews. And so I'm better doing this now than when I talked to you 20 years ago. I'm just trying to be humble.

And you have to be. How many messages do you think you've given? Oh my, a lot.

Have you ever added them? Dwayne says you've given one message. That's very good, Dwayne.

That's why we have him around. What message? Jesus.

That reminds me of a story. One of Billy Graham's associates was with him and Billy was like, you know, trying to figure out what he was going to preach on at the crusade that night. I don't know what I'm going to preach on. And his friend said, now, Billy, you only have one message. And in effect, the evangelist really does only have one message. I mean, I might have different illustrations. I'll use a different text, but it all comes down when I'm doing evangelism, not so much when I'm teaching through the Bible, but when I'm doing evangelism, it's a really focused message. So I guess in a way I do have one message.

You mentioned Dr. Graham. I wonder if it occurs to you, what if the Lord leaves me here for another 50 years and I have to keep preaching for another 50 years? What do you think about that? Well, I'd be pretty old.

I'd be 110. So I think I'll keep going and doing this as long as I can, as long as I can reach people effectively. And I'll always be in ministry in some way, shape or form. Will I always be doing these stadium events? Well, I'm not sure about that, but I think I'll always want to be telling others about the Lord and bringing this message of hope and teaching God's word.

I mean, that's pretty much what I do. In the 20 years since I first met you, the Internet didn't exist. So, you know, Internet pornography, for example, and the ravages on young people that it's taking did not exist. We've had terrorism. We live in fear.

Is it getting harder or easier to tell people about Christ over those 20 years? Huh. That's a good question. 25,000 interviews. Yes.

Better be able to come up with one. In a way, it's hard to answer. In a way, I want to see it's easier.

In a way, I want to see it's harder. I'll just address it this way. I think people are far more biblically illiterate than they used to be. There was a time when I was preaching years ago when, you know, when you would allude to Noah and the flood, Adam and Eve, etc. People all understood those cultural slash biblical references, but people are so biblically illiterate today, they don't know what the heck you're talking about.

So I find that I have to really break everything down, explain everything. I think perhaps in many ways the need is greater, sort of like the, you know, the seeds that were sown in the 60s of all the, you know, we're pushing away the traditional family and we're saying we don't have moral absolutes. There's no such thing as good and evil or right and wrong. Why is it we scratch our head and wonder when we teach young people in our schools today that they're highly evolved animals and then they go out and behave like one?

What were you expecting? We've done everything we can to get God out of the classroom. Don't you dare post the Ten Commandments on the classroom wall. You can't have a prayer.

You can't even have a moment of silence. You know, we've done everything to get God out of the culture, out of the classroom, out of everything. And then we wonder why our culture is going the way it's going. The answer is we need God. As Abraham Lincoln said, the problem is we have forgotten God.

And it's still true. And so that's really what I'm doing. I'm calling people to come back to God or maybe for the first time to come to God and see what he has to say.

Everybody, Greg Laurie here. Thanks for listening to our podcast. And to learn more about Harvest Ministries, please subscribe and consider supporting this show. Just go to And by the way, if you want to find out how to come into a personal relationship with God, go to That's K-N-O-W-G-O-D dot org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-04 13:10:39 / 2022-12-04 13:17:59 / 7

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