JERUSALEM – Greg Laurie is one of the most well-known and respected pastors and Bible teachers in the United States.
He is also a dear friend who loves the Lord, loves the scriptures, loves Israel and has invited me to address his congregations many times.
So, how is he handling the soaring number of deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus? How is he handling the prolonged closure of churches throughout California, and elsewhere in the U.S.? What’s his advice to Evangelicals frustrated, angry or depressed about the stark change from Donald Trump to Joe Biden in the White House?
And when is he bringing another tour to Israel?
In a wonderful and wide-ranging interview, I asked Laurie these questions – and I encourage you to watch the whole thing.
First, though, some background.
WHO IS GREG LAURIE?
Once on drugs and far from God, Greg Laurie’s life was radically transformed in 1975 when he heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
After years of sitting in Bible studies and devouring all that he could from the Word of God, Laurie began teaching from the scriptures himself.
Eventually, he became the pastor of one of the largest Evangelical congregations in the U.S.
Before COVID-19, 15,000 people a week were attending Harvest Christian Fellowship, the congregation that Laurie founded in Riverside, California.
Thousands more were attending the five other congregations that he and his team have planted.
The deadly pandemic forced the Harvest congregations to temporarily close their doors – but today more people are watching Laurie preach than ever before.
When President Donald Trump publicly stated that he was going to watch Harvest’s Palm Sunday services last year, their online traffic went through the roof.
A stunning 1.3 million people watched Laurie preach that weekend.
Since then, Laurie tells me, Harvest has averaged about 300,000 watching his weekend services online.
More than 7.9 million people have attended his evangelistic events, known as “Harvest Crusades.”
WHAT’S LAURIE’S ADVICE FOR EVANGELICALS?
These are trying times.
How should Evangelicals respond to a range of festering crises? How can they deal with their disappointments and fears?
“When you talk about a pandemic sweeping our nation, and indeed the world, people need hope and they need perspective,” Laurie told me. “And so that’s something I’m always trying to bring from the words of scripture.”
But with division and sin running rampant, Americans need more than “self-help” thinking – they need supernatural healing.
And Laurie is straightforward: True change is only going to come about if it starts in the Church.
“The way we’re going to change the world is not by what’s happening in the White House. It's going to happen by what's happening in God's House,” Laurie said referring to 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“We need to pray for a spiritual awakening in our own lives and we need another spiritual awakening in our nation as well.”
Laurie also addressed criticism that he received from fellow Evangelicals for serving on the White House faith advisory council for former President Donald Trump and praying with him.
“Why would I not want to pray for the leader of the free world in the office that he sits, behind that desk? To me it’s my responsibly,” he said. “And if President Biden were to call and say, ‘I’d like you to come and pray for me,’ of course I’d do it. ‘I’d like you to come and I’d like to hear your opinion,’ of course I would offer it. I would offer it to any president.”
He also took heat for posting on social media that he is praying for the new president, Joe Biden, as the Bible commands to pray for those in authority. But Laurie said his No. 1 priority is the Lord.
“I’m an ambassador for the Kingdom of God. That’s more important than being an American citizen as much as I value my citizenship,” Laurie said. “That that's the main purpose that I have … is to represent Christ and to point people to Him and to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
He points to biblical prophecy as a source of hope and has begun teaching a series at his church from Revelation.
“When I read Bible prophecy, it reminds me of the God is in control,” he said. “Kings are placed in power. Kings are taken out of power. Presidents come, presidents go. Prime ministers come and go. And on it is. But our job as Christians is to bring the light of the Gospel to whoever is there.”
“I’ve read the last page of the Bible and we win in the end,” he said.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.