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Lost Boy, Part 2: Pastor Greg Recounts His Start in Ministry

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
March 13, 2021 3:00 am

Lost Boy, Part 2: Pastor Greg Recounts His Start in Ministry

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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March 13, 2021 3:00 am

In this episode, Pastor Greg continues to share his story of coming to Christ—this time covering extensively his early Christian experience. Complete with insights, archival clips, and various interviews, this story will encourage you and perhaps reveal details about Pastor Greg's life you have never heard before.

Produced by Dave Spiker, this feature includes topics such as Greg's first Bible purchase, his early mentors in the faith, sharing the gospel with his mother, and getting his start in ministry. People interviewed include Cathe Laurie, Willie Jordan, and Chuck Smith. Many of the events referenced are described in further detail in Pastor Greg's book, Lost Boy. 

Watch Pastor Greg talk more about the history of the Living Water tract here. 

Listen to the previous installment of this series here.

Learn more about this extraordinary era of revival in Pastor Greg's book, Jesus Revolution. Get a copy when you support this show at harvest.org/donate.

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Learn more about Greg Laurie and Harvest Ministries at harvest.org.

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

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Everybody Greg Laurie here.

You're listening to the glory podcast and my objective is to deliver hopefully compelling practical insights and faith culture and current events. From a biblical perspective to find out more about our ministry.

Just go to our website harvest.org so thanks for joining me for this podcast pastor Greg picks up this riveting story just after his decision to become a follower of Jesus. At first I was very uncomfortable and I didn't feel like I fit in and I didn't think it was is going to work, but my life started to change and it started to make more sense to me and hanging out with my old friends was making a whole lot less sense to me, and in things were happening in my life little prayers.

I was praying were being answered. I went down to the Bible book start. I saw this Bible. It was a Schofield cross reference pastor Greg's recollection from a radio interview nearly 20 years ago, and I pray and I said God, if you're really there for me.

Please provide me with that Bible and I didn't tell anybody about it. I called my grandmother Knight told her mama Stella.

Guess what I become a Christian and as Jesus Christ my life and the first thing she said was what I want to buy you a Bible dealer Bible that you'd like to get a said all God answered my prayer in a cell of the Lord is my grandmother to to answer their first prayer and that you know and I still use a Schofield and seller.

But that was you know I was just excited because I wanted to tell her because that was a part of it. It helped to plant the seed that was harvested much later, so see that you planted all those many years ago. Those seeds blossom didn't they mama, Stella, Heriberto, and I'm here are about to thank the Lord everyday) everything I could see God was changing me in this anger that I seemly have for the whole world was gone. I was actually feeling a love for people used to hate that this is really radical. I knew that Christ was changing my life. When we heard that someone had told him about Jesus and we just shout pastor Greg's and Willie, Willie Jordan.

It was so exciting that Charlene's son had come to Jesus" was almost more wonderful than that was the fact that his feet didn't seem to hit the ground he was off and running and telling other people about Chase's and you know I wanted to reach my mother and so I remember one day I went home and she had a couple of drinks and then I decided to just blaster with both barrels of my newly acquired gospel gun and I just like told her you know your this is sin.

And you gotta stop doing did you go to hell and I member the conversation not going well at all. She was an amazing person and invading the subject can and she was fairly present and she was a very nice person and we had nice conversations that he only went to a certain depth and I think my mom should probably that all this is great. You know I spend my whole life trying to get away from my parents and I raise my son in a home where there is no you know church and there's no Bible and know my own son is trying to preach to me and so it's getting humorous when you look back you realize my mom.

She was corner there was no getting away for only ask you something when you counsel new believers. Now what do you tell them you thinking back about your experience. What he told the believers about whether they should go back right away and share Christ with their old unsaved friends are you counsel them more likely need to separate from them until they grow little bit in their face. Well I sigh what I counsel people to do is to get grounded and thankfully the Lord brought a guy in the my life. His name was Mark and does see I was having a hard time connecting with the Christians. I didn't really know anybody all that well and and and they had a language I didn't understand. You know, they talked about, you know, things like the body and the blood of Christ in sanctification and discipleship. One of these words mean it was like I was learning a whole new language. It was a whole new world and I had no real foundation in these things in my life was beginning to change, but I was having a hard time connecting the dots and a guy comes along.

The mark never met her before, said hi, my name is Mark.I saw that you went for the other day at school and prayed to receive Christ M, defensive yeah and he says will get. I want to help you and will really mean because I want to take you to church what what what church where place called Calvary Chapel and and I was resistant but to Mark's credit. He was persistent he came he picked me up at my house. He drove me to Calvary Chapel. That's when I first heard Chuck Smith teach the Bible.

That's when I was first in the church setting. This was just a little Bible study was that I was in my high school campus, so I was just immersing myself in it.

At this point. And no, I couldn't get enough.

I couldn't get enough Bible study. I couldn't hear enough I could learn enough, I just was filled with questions so my life was changing, so I think with every new believer needs to do is they need a guy like Mark in their life or you need to be a guy like Mark and someone else's life, you need to find a new believer and take him under your wing and help them get up on their feet. Spiritually, you certainly see this pattern in Scripture.

You see a quill and Priscilla taking in the men name Apollo's and helping him get established in this bather as the Bible says, learn the word of God more the way of God more perfectly you see Paul doing it with Timothy. This pattern is throughout Scripture helping someone else be that someone for someone else and if you are a new believer. Find someone that's mature in the faith they can help you learn the ropes. If you will, because there's just a lot of crazy things you can say and do.

As a young Christian, you need to get a good foundation first, and I'd recommend that you not hang around about your old friends who are still living in the way of the world, but instead find people that love the Lord. The Bible says of flee youthful lusts and follow righteousness, faith, and peace, along with those a call on the Lord out of a pure heart was so much more of your story at the combo I want to ask you right here at this juncture the past experiences in your life and the way you wrestled with these issues the way you dabbled with drugs you faced violence in the home.

How do those affect your ability now to relate to unbelievers as your preaching the gospel. It's very easy for me to put myself in the shoes of a nonbeliever. Even to this day, even though I've been a Christian for a lot longer than I was a nonbeliever I still can understand the mindset of a non-Christian hit sometimes and I'm preaching be in the middle of a message and I and I might see something like, and you might be sitting there thinking and then I'll describe what a person is thinking in a more than one occasion that people were nonbelievers who accepted Christ that particular time. Say, when you describe what a person might be thinking you describe me to a T. How did you know that I don't know it's it's not that hard for me to put myself in my old shoes again and almost be the guy speaking and then almost put myself in the shoes of the person listening with the kind of questions they might have in any given moment, and I try to use that to my advantage when I'm speaking because I try to anticipate questions and answer them as I speak instead of just giving out a bunch of rhetoric that people are not, necessarily even grasp by what where we've just crossed the bridge now you've you've accepted Christ to become a believer and were moving into the season of your life. When the Lord starts to use you. Are you drawn analogy in your book between the position in your life now and in fact are the chapter titles called something about seeing a turtle on a fence post. Yeah. Describe what you mean by seeing a turtle on a fence post. What if you're walking down a little country road say and you see a turtle sitting on a fence post. You know he didn't get there by himself.

Someone must've put them there and when I look back at my life and I see what God is done with me and through me. It's clear that I didn't get your through my own designs or calculations or scheming the Lord put me where I am. There's no way I could've gone from where I was to where I am today without God intervening in my life are.

So you come to Christ. Your brand-new believer and Mark is taking a Calvary Chapel are you familiar with this.

This preacher named Pastor Chuck Smith and somehow your graphic arts talents bring you into contact with this man who will eventually prove to be one of the most prominent prominent to spiritual mentors in your life. Yes I you know I cartoonist my whole life. My goal in life was to be a professional cartoonist. I actually had been corresponding with Charles Schultz that the creative peanuts very graciously would write me letters and I remember one is a little boy getting a letter from Kim and it was like a letter from heaven you know and and I would ask him the most ridiculous questions and he would always write back an answer and went to my said to have a piece of original art and he sent me old comic strip that he had done which I have since lost all know and but you know he was a very gracious man and he himself had a faith in Christ. Early on in his life.

I read a biography about him recently that talked about that but so you know I disses my whole goal in life. I want to be a professional cartoonist, and now that I'm a Christian.

I don't really know what this all means, and processing all this information and I'm sitting in church I'm hearing things I've never heard before. Okay will you know back in those days of the little tracks of the religious literature that was handed out in those days I thought were really ineffective and there was some that were put out there were little cartoon drawings about people ending up in hell and the devil laughing at them. That member actually reading one of those before I was a Christian when I was stoned and laughing at it.

That's the impact it had on me may have impacted others differently, but I thought I need something that would relate to people like I used to be that I could give out as I was thinking about this.

Well, a woman going to cover Chapel and still in high school and the senior now my art class.

The assignment was due a comic strip will comic strip by the new comic strips. My whole life that's easy but insensitive. A typical comic strip that I do which usually is. You know, a series of panels that build up to a punchline. I thought maybe I'll all take what I heard at church and input that in cartoon form and check it. Given the message on the woman at the well where Jesus told her she'd drink of the water of that well she would thirst again. But if she drink of the water that he gave she would never thirst again because this would be like living water, so I decided to call this little cartoon story living water, and it's just a picture of a guy with a big old hole in his heart, and I drew a little hole in his heart, and it starts off you know we've all been born with this hole in her heart. And then I begin to talk about Jesus and I took Chuck's message and the fact illustrated. It was all done. There was living water and I didn't know what to do with it. So I thought I did go go over to Chuck Smith, Sal's, and show this to him and see what he thought first time I met Greg he was had come to the front door of our house and he showed me a little cartoon that he had drawn. That was sort of followed after the sermon that I preached the previous Sunday I said hey Pastor Chuck I go to Calvary and I heard your sermon the other day and and I drew this little tract that sort of illustrates what you had said in, and I remember as he looked overtly as smile came in the space and he seemed to be enjoying any said Greg, this is very clever. We should put this in a little booklet form for others to read. So he showed me what the dimensions are to be and how to be done so I went back and I redrew it again re-designed it to fit this format and that resulted in the little booklet that was called the living water track and cover Chapel distributed the few of those that he have the printed up a few thousand. And there were gone. Then they print up more.

They were gone and I think it was when it was all said and done something like 3 million of them were for distributed.

It really became quite a phenomenon in that was my first taste of being used by the Lord's. At that point is that all that's it, now known to be a Christian cartoonist, a Christian designer I just pursue my career in art, but what I will do is I'll use it to glorify God.

Okay, so he started going to Bible studies, a Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, and even though hanging around there the church during the we are helping out Jan set up a little drawing board in one of the offices there. There were some pastors on staff. They were all about, eight, nine years older than I was and they were doing the work of ministry.

They were like interns at Calvary. At that time and I'm around 18 years old and I'm doing my artwork and I know that I want to serve God, but my frustration was. It was only so much I could do with art and I spent a lot of time sitting at a drafting table looking at a blank piece of paper, trying to think of some you know clever way to communicate the gospel it done some album covers. At that point for various Christian groups and some flyers and posters and things for events that were happening, but you know I was still feeling a sense of frustration wanting to do more but not knowing what to do and and watching these guys serving the Lord. I was beginning to think that maybe God was calling me to more than just being a cartoonist and maybe God was calling me to be a preacher. He would come out during the day and just sit around, especially waiting for lunch time when the pastors would go to lunch and even have then the secretary of put all the calls were coming in through to him and he would start counseling people and all and Chris people called in and looking for counsel didn't know there done some 19-year-old kid.

They basically gave me the jobs that nobody else wanted to do you know if there was some convalescent home that nobody wanted to go to Greg got to do it. I went to a mental institution and preach one time I would do a Bible study three hours away because someone said can you come to a Bible study in our house. I would go anywhere any place and do what the others didn't want to do, actually was a great crash course on learning how to minister in different situations.

Now I know that tell you were leading a Bible study in Long Beach at one time you and young girl sitting up near the front named Kathy caught your attention right I wrote my notes Kathy Martin and the sisters of ubiquity. So you got to know this. Kathy Martin, who would later become Kathy Lori Beth that her sisters were always there. The other it's like they're all fixed at the hip or something you know they went everywhere as a trio, and in that this is okay for us for little bit now so no I'm actually getting in the ministry and I'm doing a little midweek Bible study done in Long Beach and so one day when I'm doing my study. I noticed these girl sitting out there is not like I was scoping girls when I was giving Bible study, but I wasn't blind either. You don't have a single guy and and I see this girl that catches my eye. There was something special about her.

She was very pretty, but it was something different about her that intrigued me and so I thought went to go introduce myself to her after the little Bible study. So I walked up to her and said hi am Greg, are you and you know honestly Dave, I thought you would be kind of impressed by me because I just on the Bible study and the thing was, she wasn't impressed at all.

And I said so are you to keep coming back to this little Bible study. She said I might, but we might go to another one.

Instead I felt thanks a lot Leo and I noticed that her sisters and her did everything together. So I invited them all out the coffee afterwards and and so then we went out the coffee and that is and who we should all go to this sometime we went did this in.

We did a number of things together and then one day I mustered up the courage is a he, Kathy, why don't you go with me over this place all in my sisters. I said no not your sisters, just you and I think she started getting the Isaiah. I don't really want the sisters to come on him interested in you and that was sort of the developer or the beginning of our courtship so the courtship is kind of developing as your ministry calling is developing now. At one point, there is a Bible study out in Riverside manages 45 minutes away from younger Chapel Costa Mesa that nobody else wants to take right and so it gets handed off to the new guy yeah that's right I coming back to my days at Calvary and I am just kind of doing whatever I can do. I'm doing everything and anything. I'm doing cartooning, I'm drawing them designing to try to make ends meet. I'm speaking anywhere people have me speak and this opportunity opens up in Riverside. Ironically, Lonnie Frisbee, coming back to him for a moment he had started this Bible study up in Riverside at an Episcopalian church. It it actually grown quite large and was doing very well about 300 people, but Lonnie left that Bible study and moved off to Florida and it was handed off to various pastors and you know as one could understand when there's not a stable person there, it just got smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller and by the time he came my direction.

It was around 80 people and in various guys at Calvary were doing it and you know why did last week.

You do it, no I'm doing it next week. Do you I don't want to do it and then they finally turned mutable. Greg you want to go to the Bible study in Riverside. I said sure you know, so I got my car and I drove out to Riverside and is kind of funny because the people were there and I walked up and sometimes is to do the Bible study tonight.

The guy was in charge.

He was an older man. He said who are you, I said, one from Calvary Chapel.

He says will I don't know you. Nobody told me you're coming as it will I'm supposed to do. The Bible study goes low, you're not gonna do it. No okay now the old rebellion starts coming back and I'm looking at this adult daily to tell me what I'm not going to do it with tidbits he had changed a lot, and I thought no, that's not what God would have me to do I need to humble myself and it's okay.

Well, whatever you want, I'll just be here and if you need me I'll be here to speak it if you don't want me I won't speak and I just humble myself and shut up were normally I would have given him a lot of back talk I might've even just walk up there and done it. I thought no, that's not the way I should do this and will the other guy didn't come because he wasn't, and the guy realized I wasn't yeah this is all right.

You can speak this one time but only once. Is it okay I got my spoken revote are confident you will go to confidently know what well I gave an invitation in a number of kids came forward and gave the life to the Lord and apparently that did not happen in a long time and he said wanted to come back next weekend and do it again and that became the beginning of what is our church today, but at one point some of the officials from the church actually drove out to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, you saw them come into the church to meet with Pastor Chuck and you. You callers are coming to get.

I had on the back right will see with about a years combine this little Bible study is now exploded it were running over three 400 people. The local newspapers, done an article on it. I had started a midweek Bible study and were teaching to the Bible together. It's becoming a church in a church. We actually drew up a little bulletin and I in this little bulletin over in the corner very small type were the words minister Greg Laurie.

Not even faster just minister they didn't like that you're not the minister you're not the pastor here and they can wanted to control it and they wanted to get rid of me so I'm still hanging around Calvary and living in Orange County at this time and I'm down there at the office and one day I see like the pastor of the church in a couple of the elders come in and and I said guys would you doing your work here to meet with Pastor Chuck and sent all great.

Can I come they said no.

I said why they said we could to get rid of you. So that was pretty low blow and they went into his office and and I was devastated by that night that why you know and and and I prayed in and the Lord spoke to my heart again and I felt the Lord saying to me. I'm an egg on the move you to a whole new place will hold the only things going up and that I waited in the office praying and then I I was in one of the other pastors offices just sitting there in the little intercom rang and it was a secretary.

She said Pastor Chuck want you to come into his office right now knowing flashing back. I'm in elementary school. Again, I'm going to see the vice principal of you know I'm in trouble.

I go and sit down in Chuck's office and he has a big smile on his face. He says Greg we gotta find you a new place and so instead of wanting to get rid of me. He understood what was going on and he wanted to help me.

I get established as a real church. So what happened after that. This could find church well it just so happened that around that time someone had discovered an abandoned church building on Arlington Avenue used to be a Baptist Church laid out a split and literally. These people would come in and and taken up use of the pulpit was gone. The literally carried furniture out of the church.

It was a bitter split and there was this building sitting on a hill abandoned and had been that way for some time and someone said maybe we could use that building for our church and so I remember one night we went there into the parking lot.

We stood outside and we prayed and you know you have to understand how impossible that seemed, I mean were just a little group of you know, a few hundred kids. I mean literally were all kids, the oldest one among us is 22 tops, you know. 23 maybe and and a lot of us even younger than dad and Ward were trying to figure out how to do this and understand. Also, you know, they started churches are common in we see churches everywhere with contemporary music at this time there were no little start of churches. There were no churches of young people. There was not contemporary Christian music is the norm. This is not been done. There was Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa that it was gone going to at the time this was a whole new frontier and I'd never known of anyone who had done this before but it was clear that the Lord had raised up a church now what. So this properties available so we found out the realtor representing the property. I called Chuck and said Chuck would you come up me but this realtor and he came out and and I remember that there were looking that note the building that's daytime walking around the places is so thrashed and carpets coming up and paint chipping off walls. But hey, it was a building.

It needed a lot of work but it was a building and I'm sort of looking at this building and Chuck in this realtor are deep in discussion, and I see Chuck pull out a checkbook right out a check. Give it to the realtor shake his hand and he walks over to me says will Greg you just got yourself a church. He shook my hand.

He got in his car, and off he went and what he had done was he had put down the payment of our lease for our first few months, but we had to come up with the rest. So he gave us her start and then I had to go back to these guys at this other church and say were leaving and will get to go to our own church and I remember the pastor saying you're going to fail, Greg, this is not gonna work. These are the reason that these young people are being allowed to come as her parents know there are adult chaperones around the care of this and with us gone. The parable never let their kids come. This is all going to collapse. You'll see in a bar. I felt bad, like well what am I doing I am out of my mind so I announced that Sunday. This is my last Sunday here and were going to this place and have a little map drawn up and I I said I hope you come with me and that we left there with 300 people and the next Sunday. 500 people showed up, so we got 200 people.

I don't know where they came from wealth, that's failure that's a good failure to failure to have an as I got up on the platform.

There's a great excitement in the room. It's work to know the Lord blessed it, then there's a buzz in the room and I look out and sitting a few rows out is the very pastor that that it told me it wouldn't work. Then I felt really vindicated and almost a sense of pride like see I was right. You know, and again it's his thing with adults and he's an older man and I'm thinking I see I showed you that I thought now you know that's not right with the Lord want me to do.

I think I'll ask him to come up here and I'll think him for all he did to help get this church started and I swallowed my pride and invited him up and he was shocked when I did so and I think them publicly. And I did mention the things he said to me, discourage me and I and he said a few words and I thought that was the right thing.

The doing of the circumstances and that was ultimately the birth of what's now known as harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California church of some 15,000 people. Everybody Greg Laurie here.

Thanks for listening to our podcast and the learn more about harvest ministries. Please subscribe and consider supporting this show. Just go to harvest.org and by the way, if you want to find out how to come into a personal relationship with God. Go to know God.org that's key NOW GLD.org


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