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Lost Boy, Part 3: Marriage and Ministry

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
March 20, 2021 3:00 am

Lost Boy, Part 3: Marriage and Ministry

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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March 20, 2021 3:00 am

As we continue the Lost Boy series, we now come to Pastor Greg Laurie's life after he was in ministry. This installment shares the story of how Greg married his wife Cathe, continued in full-time ministry, and shared the gospel with both his adoptive father and his mother later in their lives. 

This series was originally produced by Dave Spiker for radio and features audio clips from our archives and multiple interviews. Interviews included in this episode are Cathe Laurie, Oscar Laurie, and Willie Jordan. 

Read more of Pastor Greg's courtship with Cathe in the book, Jesus Revolution. It's yours this month, along with a study guide, when you support this show with a gift of any size. Just go to


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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 so thanks for joining me for this podcast. But as we continue this fascinating discussion with Pastor Greg. I asked him about the romance that was developing as his early calling to ministry was developing well you know Kathy and I were developing in our love for one another and up but I have to say that we we had our disagreements as well.

In fact, we had big arguments and so much so that we broke up three times that I'm saying break up. I never want to see you again. I don't ever want to see your face again this relationship is over with. I don't need to find somebody else I get along with and then we would get back together break up again get back together we prep and she went on tour with that music. Great call children today and I he was gone for about three months and during my absence and right before he left he pretty much said this is that you know it's over between us and I think just facing the reality of life without Greg, I at first didn't bother me that as time went on I really began to miss him and as I would see other guys or date other guys I felt like nobody's really quite like he is nobody that makes me laugh like he does is nobody that is as interesting or as focused about what they're doing and and they only seem to pale in comparison.

So I I really began to wonder if maybe they believe were supposed to be together after all. And finally, after the third breakup we just realize that we didn't want to be away from each other.

We wanted to be together and does so I like to say that we got that out of her system before we got married, you know, because thankfully we been married now 34 years and the word divorce was never a part of our vocabulary and having come from the background that I came from and being so up close and personal with the effects of divorce.

The last thing I ever wanted was to have family that would end up way and so I I guess in some ways I may be overcompensated wanting to be the best husband I could be nothing. I am a but that the best father I could be how I wanted to do such a great job out and I'm not any way implying that I have done that but it was my desire to have the strongest family I could possibly have. It's always been a very high priority in my life. So Kathy and Ira relationship got more more serious and fun and it's funny because I asked Chris and when did I propose to you, she said you know you actually didn't really propose to me. I said what happened.

She said what we were just at dinner one night and you just said well I guess were going to get married right and that's all I said. It has all matters are romantic. You don't well I guess were going to get married and just sort of assumed it and fortunately she assumed along with me and so we set a date and I went to her parents and of course at this point I'm not making much of a living I am just barely eking body and so I go to her father and and and I asked permission to marry his daughter and he says no. I'll you. He said no no I said no. My dad was really concerned about Greg's ability to provide financially for me. I got up in a very sheltered very wonderful family. Harry protects it very you know my mom and dad are still together. I was raised Catholic, very stable environment. Crank I'm someone who come from a very unstable home and really troubled them. They weren't sure that a kid who had been 327 forces knew anything about commitment or marriage or family life and as an adult now I look back I can understand their their feelings about and I see they couldn't see underneath all of that hair was a bald man know that you know was a fairly good son-in-law that would love their daughter.

I'm understand now you know. Looking back is apparent how they would be concerned to be here. I'm coming from. The most unstable family imaginable. I've got those long hair and a beard. I'm starting some church it probably thought Kathy hooked up with the crazy guy. Plus your very young, very young young I was 20 when we got married and she was 18.

That's very young. Yes, and it's a funny thing because you know my name is Greg Laurie, of course, and we went down the aisle and we stood there and Pastor Chuck married us and he married us and pronounced Greg and Lori man and wife.

We had a good laugh over that. So I basically married myself so they wanted a little Kathy is off the hook. Yeah, you want to know the secret to a successful marriage marry her. Sorry so that's right that's right.

So those first few years of your marriage must've been timeless become tight, you were mentioning mentioning in the book that you drove special kind of caught on my liver were very proud of my little Corvair and I bought it a member. Believe it or not, for $225. I believe yeah it was a trusty little car but the brakes weren't so good in and every time II wanted to stop the car.

I had to hit the brakes three times and it stopped and I had a pump pump pump and it would stop and one time I was driving down the street and I was fiddling with the cassette player not in the they didn't have in those days it was one just sitting up on my dashboard timeless. No Bible teaching tape as a matter fact I looked up and realize a traffic stop and I was only get that able to get two pumps in until I rear-ended this guy in the front of a Corvair with no engine up there crinkled like aluminum foil and I had my headlights crossing each other and I kept driving it. So I'm driving down the freeway now with my headlights crossing each other.

Finally, a cop pulls me over and says get the thing off the road. Now you can. That was the end of the beloved Corvair so you know humble years. They were humble years. But, you know, let me say this Dave that when Christopher was born. Our firstborn son you know it's a funny thing. It was never really an option for Kathy to go to work.

We just felt like she had to be home with him raising him being there with them and you know what our furniture. It came from the Salvation Army.

It had stuffing coming out of it.

We didn't have any clothes pretty much everything we had was hand-me-down but we had each other. We decided we wanted to be with our child and you know I look back in those years. May we could head a little bit you know are our furniture could've been a little newer and have a few more close to choose from. I don't regret it one bit. I glad I'm glad we took that time to be there in those formative years of his life and give Kim that solid foundation that I never had. That's a good word to the wise, for young couple starting out today. Now let's let's talk about another chapter in your ministry outreach you actually had an opportunity to be reunited with the man who let you his last name on your Lori many years later.

Tell us about that.

The right reunion and and how special it was. Thanks for asking. You know, Oscar Lori always you know how to special place in my heart but I know communication with them and so now I'm an adult I I'm married and pastoring the church.

I have a son and I disappoint you know I would like to talk to him again.

I want to be still alive, so there was a girl in our church work for the Bar Association and I asked her to see if she could track down Oscar Lori somewhere on the East Coast of took no time at all.

She found them. I got the phone number of his office and I called it, and lady answered and hello you know this is the author's law office of you know, attorney, Oscar Lori and I said yes I would like to speak with Oscar Lori, please. She said he's not in right now is out at lunch can ask is calling. I said yes.

Greg Laurie, she said, why do you spell your last name said the same way he spells his last name Ellie, you are i.e. this is his son calling so I got a call about an hour later it's Oscar and he's just thrilled to hear from me in and I told him I said you going to be on the East Coast and I'm in the be speaking there in Central Park. A group asked me to come and speak you could could we get together and have lunch because he's remarried. At this point. He is a new family. It adopted a couple of other children. Oscar was unable to have his own children are biologically and so he had adopted a couple of others I do want to interrupt his new family is new life. You know, he says no, come out and spend the weekend at our house and I said okay so I did my speaking engagement in Central Park and we got on the train and we made our way to Red Bank, New Jersey where he lives in. I remember you know the sense of anticipation what was going to be like what I was going to say to what I was going to call him even when I got up the train. It was just like I went back in time.

He was older, of course, but he looks so much like he used to look and before I could even catch myself. I was calling them dad. We just reconnected and we had a lot of long talks and he told me one night that he knew of the turmoil I was going through in the life I was living with my mom and he had actually tried to get custody of me that my mom had bought him tooth and nail, which I found ironic considering the fact that I wasn't even with her a good deal of the time but you know I look back and that they said well the Lord had his hand on it because he knew that day that I would come to Christ and the events that would lead to me coming to Christ, and so on. We reconnected and talked and Oscar had remarried a wonderful lady named Barbara Catholic lady and and so one night wheat we had a great Italian meal that Barbara had cooked up in, and she asked me to tell the story of how I came to faith so in effect, I did there what I'm doing now. I shared my life story and and she listened and had a lot of questions. My dad was sitting at the opposite end of the table and I remember that he had his hand sort of pressed together up to his face almost like I'm in a court of law give you my testimony that the judge is listening. You know and as I looked and I thought, I don't think the judge is really totally getting what I'm saying or liking what I'm saying we just there was no physical reaction that I could see it. And one thing I left out is prior to going to visit Oscar kid had a car accident and the reason was he was having severe heart issues and he had blocked out of the wheel and crashed. And so he was on heart medication having to take walks and Encino heart specialist, and so forth. So we had this talk that night I shared my story so he had to walk early every morning and in the us, we will you walk with me in the morning, Greg. I said okay dad sure in the next morning the knocks on the door of my room and it's 6 o'clock New Jersey time 3 o'clock California time so I'm really sleepy. We go under that cold New Jersey air as her walking along is a Greg, I was listening very carefully to what you said last night, I said yeah and he says I want to give my life to Jesus Christ right now. Talk about a wake-up call. Wow. I woke up and I said well data. Are you sure you understood what I said let me say it again.

I went over the whole thing again explaining what it meant to be a Christian. He said I want to do that and were walking the whole time and at this point I said will what you need to do that is pray. He drops to his knees right there. I mean drop your knees, pray just what you need to do is break. He's on his knees ready to pray so what can I do I get on my knees with them.

When the middle of the park. Now, so I said pray this prayer after me and I let him in the prayer of receiving Christ into his life, a prayer not unlike the one I lead folks in on this broadcast on a regular basis and after he was done praying he said. I believe Jesus Christ is come in my life. No understand this is not an emotional man. This is a very intelligent, articulate, educated man, one that does not show his emotions quickly.

Totally unloading insane Christ is coming to my life. I know it and then he says I believe God can heal my heart to let's pray for my heart. Unlike ballots go carts and get so much faith that was just delightful. So we prayed in and he says I believe the Lord sealed my heart, Greg says go to my doctor is not far from Mayor's office is nearby.

I want to introduce you to okay so week walking his doctor's office and I just double this is Dr. thinking it was a nice Jewish gentleman and my dad walks in and says Dr. this is my son Greg from California. He's a pastor of a church and I just asked Jesus in my heart and I believe Jesus is healed me as well. I'm thinking I you know all the doctors they know Oscar we don't know about this. Let's run some tests.

You know what the rents and test and sure enough, his heart had been touched and healed and he had 15 more years of life. After this, and he dedicated his life to the Lord. He became an elder in this church and became a member of the Gideon society and he served the Lord all the way to the very end.

So that was a beautiful way to take a painful part of my life and see a glorious conclusion almost 20 years ago in a radio interview with Pastor Greg. I asked Oscar if he wanted to share any thoughts with his adopted son Robert Ehrenreich occurred Greg are you all are. I lower my loving father love Lori more for the Hartford. They brought you know the Lord.

I for I thank you Lord. He gave me. As I mentioned in my turbulent youthful years and oasis of stability that I never forgot. And it it just help me. It gave me something of an anchor in the midst of all of that because it was just a crazy childhood. Well, I told my mom about Oscars conversion. I member and after I was and she said that's nice. I said so what you think about that. I want to talk about it and that was my mom's reaction whenever we talked about spiritual things I want to talk about.

I want to talk about and it was very hard to broach the subject with her and so you know, long after I blasted it with both barrels of my gospel gun. I thought the best thing I could do was to be a witness to her and the love her though I must say I don't think I was the best son I could have been. I think in many ways. I was a failure in that regard, and, and I look back with some regret feeling that I wish I'd spent more time just with her that I didn't and you know that's behind me now, but the Lord was still working on this product: you know I talk about my story will you know my mom story is interesting to she's like the prodigal daughter you know, running away from God.

Her whole life and what happens the Lord saves her own son that was conceived out of wedlock in the midst of her madness and then her son becomes a evangelist and is now seeking to reach her. So you note she she was going to come around sooner or later we all felt that in fact one night my wife and I were asleep, the phone rings about one in the morning it's my mom she's had a couple of drinks she slightly slurring her words. She says Greg if I were to come forward at your church to accept Jesus Christ. Would you sing just as I am my mom's been raised in the Baptist Church had sung that song over and over. The anniversary of their services and of course she was well aware of Billy Graham's ministry and that's sort of their signature song and I said mother. If you except Jesus Christ, I'll sing anything you want. Will the next morning I was excited well a breakthrough. My mom's life is that he about that call last night. She didn't remember any of it all and then when I brought it up again. I don't want to talk about it so you know the Lord. She was a tough nut to crack and it took a long time, and as the years passed her beauty began to fade. She had an auto accident one night going home from work after she had too much to drink. She wrapped her car around a tree or a telephone pole cut her face horror she had been so beautiful, but with all of that. It totally changed and it changed her and to present as beautiful as she had been and her whole identity was in her beauty and was like a bucket of cold water was poured over her.

She never was able to return to that state of beauty. She had one Ted is a younger woman in the toll of drinking and smoking and all the rest of taken their toll on her. Over the years, and then her kidneys began to fail and she had to go in for dialysis three days a week and this would take hours of the time. My mom is very proud very self-sufficient in this for her was very very hard and I could see a heart.

It wasn't. And so I could see her soften and see what we would be up for a meal or something you know we would always pray for the food and she would just sort of out of respect our head and pray, but never really participated in our member during this time we went out to Eden in Kathy and I forgot the praying we just attacked the food and my mom looked at us like we're both crazy and what she said who are you going to pray hello. I want to remind me to pray to visit their little things small little things you know that we were seeing giving us hope and and does so a month before my mom died I and I didn't know she was going to die. Of course I thought I need to have a conversation with my mom and I said to my wife.

I need to talk to my mom. I feel very strongly. I need to go and have this conversation with her is direct as I can be. So I went over to her house and she was there alone that day and I said mother.

We need to talk about your speed. Know your relationship with God. You know where you're at with God. She says I want to talk about it. I said were going to talk about it today were going to have this conversation. I don't have this conversation we are going to have this conversation so I was persistent.

She she was a rebel, but I'm a rebel to and so she met her match in me she wasn't getting out this time that we had to have this because I felt impressed by the Lord.

This had to happen. Looking back I realize now why so I asked her just point-blank do you think that you are a Christian, she said, much to my surprise yes really. Yes, I believe I'm a Christian, why, and she explained how she had accepted Christ as a little girl and suddenly I looked at my mom a little bit differently. Maybe she wasn't just a nonbeliever. Maybe she was just the prodigal daughter all these years running from God and so I said to her will. You know what if you're a Christian, why don't you go to church. Why don't you read the Bible.

I mean, that's ludicrous not to do.

I never had a conversation with her. Along those lines, and Kennebec trucking for a moment what you would come to church and she came to our church a few times member a couple of times with a communion service and I really emphasize the fact that this is for believers only. If you're not a Christian. Don't receive the elements of communion because what the Bible says and I member both times she received communion and that confused me. What is this, my mom always felt she was a believer but obviously she wasn't walking with God. Obviously she was running from God, but God hadn't forgotten about her and does so. I mentioned this about coming to church and that Sunday night were having a special service at our church.

It was close to Christmas, a country music star Randy Travis was coming and she showed up at church and she was so ill from the treatment she was receiving in the state of her body. At this time, she it was, she could hardly walk. She sat up in my office and we have a little TV in here with a closed-circuit feed from the service and and she watched there she threw up a couple of times she was so ill but she came in she was making that effort, and we saw change starting to happen in her life. I remember when she was literally on her death sheet said pray and she said everything is okay. I know that everything is okay between me and God. What I've liked to have seen a complete radical total commitment to Christ in my mom's part and that we would spend many more years together as believers.

Yes, but it didn't happen, but I believe though that she recommitted her life to the Lord of my aunt had many conversations with her and felt the same thing and and then unexpectedly. A month later she died it was you know a real blow was devastating but but we had the confidence that she had returned to the God she'd been running from all those years you really did love your mom I did.

Now, even though she put you through so much.

We have been up I felt like I felt like I was supposed to, you know, it's a funny thing instead of expecting my mom to take care of me. I thought my job was to take care of my mom. You see, and I felt in some ways I'd failed and that, and though I tried so hard and in the end though the Lord never forgot about her and always loved her you are biggish, there could be so many why questions you could ask about your life, you know, why did they wanted your mom live like that.

Why did she neglect you like that, that really could become the theme song for your life but may be. God knew how your mom would be and he knew that he needed to give your mom a son like you that had the tenacity to to rise above that passed and not only accept Christ yourself, but to be that catalyst that that pivot point for your mom to to seal that relationship to to re-energize her faith and in the Lord your childhood very well could have been the 40 years in the wilderness that equipped you to the ministry that you are in today. Yeah, I do believe that you know the Bible says that God can work all things together for good to those love him I love the called according to his purpose and before my mom came around I member my wife and I had a conversation of my wife said you know your mom actually did something very good for you and I said what was that she said it was pre-evangelism. She got you ready to hear the gospel is in its transmission irregular and I think that with my upbringing.

It gave me a certain sense of knowing what it was like to live that way and it gave me an ability to relate to those people and having discovered the power of the gospel. It gave me a passion want to communicate it with as many people as possible.

People on our program know that I preach the gospel in our Crusades, but you know I often defend the gospel and make a real issue out of presenting the gospel and being authentic in the presentation of the gospel in biblical. The reason have such a passion about this is because I know the gospel is the answer. I know God can turn lives around because my life was turned around I was in the church brat that it hurt at all my life and then just finally came to my senses.

I was just an outright nonbeliever knowing absolutely nothing about God that had the Lord intervene in my life unexpectedly and turn it around completely. So how can I do anything less than what I do today. I mean it's all I could do is to you know to whom much is forgiven that one loves the much more. I'm not saying I have a greater love for the Lord than anybody else. But what I am saying is I had a lot of sins to be forgiven and and I'm grateful to God and I'm reminded of the words of Joseph, who of course was sold by his brothers into slavery for 20 pieces of silver and through a course of events. We all know how it turned out the ended up the second most powerful man in the world and you know he had been sold by his brothers falsely accused of rape did prison time. He didn't deserve any of it. If anyone could've been better. It would have been Joseph. If anyone could've engaged in payback.

It would've been Joseph but when he faced his brothers. In this position of power. We could have them all executed. He made the statement to them.

You meant this for evil but God meant it for good to save many people alive. I think these things that happen in my life were meant for evil from the devil.

But God use them for good to save others alive, meaning I think the Lord let me go to the things that I went through so I could have a better perhaps understanding of the culture I'm speaking to, and hopefully bring a more clear gospel message to them 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 know that's key NOW

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