Biolans serve as counselors at Harvest Crusade

The Harvest Crusade, where several Biolans volunteered as counselors, was held at Dodger Stadium for the first time.


Tyler Otte

The Dodgers Stadium was filled for the first ever Los Angeles Harvest Crusade, on September 10, 2011. | Tyler Otte/THE CHIMES

Emily Arnold, Writer

The Dodgers Stadium was filled for the first ever Los Angeles Harvest Crusade, on September 10, 2011. | Tyler Otte/THE CHIMES

“It’s so crazy to think that just a week ago, I had never even heard of the Harvest Festival and then there I was on Saturday, counseling people on the field of the Dodger Stadium who just came to believe in Christ,” sophomore Kristen Katchadourian said.

Kristen was one of the 50,000 people who gathered Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Harvest Crusade, an evangelistic outreach event that has been put on by Harvest Christian Fellowship since 1990.

These crusades are “designed to be opportunities for Christians to invite family members, coworkers, friends, and acquaintances to hear the life-changing message of the gospel in an environment that is entertaining, yet nonthreatening,” according to the Harvest Crusade website.

Biolans participate in Harvest Crusade as counselors

For the first time in Harvest Crusade history, the event was held at Dodger Stadium. Because of its close proximity to campus, many Biolans attended, and a few even jumped at the opportunity to serve as counselors.

Tony Castorena, Counseling Supervisor at Harvest Christian Fellowship and a Biola BOLD student, desired that Biola students get involved at this year’s Harvest Crusade.

“We wanted Biola represented there because Biola students have the passion to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ,” Castorena said. “Harvest’s mission is similar — to know God and make him known.”

He wanted there to be college-aged counselors on the field so that when Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, gave an altar call at the end of the night, there would be young believers who could encourage and relate to individuals in their same demographic. The role of counselors was to tell new believers what Harvest teaches are the four essentials to living a successful Christian life — prayer, reading the Word, fellowshipping with other believers and sharing the faith.

In order to recruit students to become counselors, he set up a Harvest booth at last week’s Ministry Festival. Katchadourian was quickly trained during her time at the booth and inspired other students to volunteer. Once Saturday arrived, Katchadourian, freshman Paul Gotaas, and sophomore Cameron Gilbert arrived at Dodger Stadium around 1 p.m. eager to serve and ready to see what God had in store.

Crowd responds to Christian leaders and musicians

By 6 p.m. the stadium was flooded with thousands of people, all with different beliefs, nationalities and life stories.

“A stadium full of that many people who love Christ and who brought friends so they could hear the gospel was a really cool thing,” sophomore Madeline Burns said. “Looking around during worship and seeing that many hands raised, seeing that many people of the same heart and mind was incredible. It was a like a taste of Heaven.”

Several renowned Christian leaders and musicians made appearances at Saturday’s outreach. This year’s worship leaders were The Katinas, Kirk Franklin, Jeremy Camp and Chris Tomlin, who closed out the event.

Frank Pastore, pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds and part-time KKLA radio host, started the night with prayer and was followed by another special guest. Louis Zamperini — Olympic runner, war hero, missionary in Japan, and founder of the Victory Boys Camp — encouraged the congregation with his testimony of how he accepted Christ at a Billy Graham revival meeting, had the chance to do great things for the Kingdom of God, and is still sharing his story with thousands at 94-years-old.

Pastor Greg Laurie speaks about suffering

At 7 p.m. Pastor Greg Laurie began his sermon entitled, “Why?”

“A Barna poll once asked, ‘If you could ask God one question and you knew he would give you an answer, what would you ask?’” Laurie said. “The most common response was, ‘Why is there pain and suffering in the world?’”

He shared how mankind has a tendency to blame God for all the pain and suffering in the world, yet it is man’s sin which leads to this tragic condition. Laurie admitted he cannot answer all the deep, heartfelt questions that come with suffering, thus, he focused on and shared that which he does know.

“I know that one day when I get to Heaven, all the ‘Whys?’ will be resolved,” Laurie said. “So, what should you do now that hardship, tragedy, and death have struck? Turn to Jesus Christ who knows all about pain and suffering. He knows what it’s like to walk in your shoes, and then some.”

Thousands accept Christ as their savior

He shared the gospel with an audience of thousands, and invited those who did not yet believe in Christ to admit their sin, repent of it, receive Jesus in their lives and make a public declaration of their faith by walking onto the baseball field and praying with others who were making the same decision. Thousands of people began to fill the entire baseball field and were able to pray and meet with counselors who walked them through what it looks like to continue walking in Jesus’ footsteps.

“When I was on the field, I saw this group of high school girls, so I walked up to them and asked if they were all accepting Christ,” Katchadourian said. “Three of them were accepting Christ for the first time, and I got to hand them their first Bibles, pray with them, and encourage them in their faith. It’s amazing that I was a part of their beginning steps of walking with Christ for the rest of their life.”

There were so many people who made decisions for Christ that the fire marshal prevented anyone else from coming onto the field in case of a fire hazard. 5,394 individuals, not including the people not allowed to come on the field, made commitments to Christ. In response to online viewing, that number rose to 6,053.

“The response at Dodger Stadium made this the most successful one-night event we’ve ever had in the history of Harvest Crusades,” Castorena said.

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