그렉 로리 Greg Laurie: Lost Boy

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그렉 로리 Greg Laurie: Lost Boy

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<FONT>Greg Laurie 

 

 

 

 

Lost Boy

 

Opening the Wrong Door

 

As I responded to the ringing doorbell of our home in Newport Beach, I looked at a sight that had become quite familiar to us. A young man with long hair, bare feet, shining smile, and clear eyes had his hand outstretched as he said, "Hi, I'm Greg." He had just come from Harbor High School, which was just around the corner from our house.

 

He handed me a set of drawings that he said he had done that day in his art class. There, in cartoon form, were twenty two illustrations of my message given the previous Sunday. I had spoken on the text from John 7:37 in which Jesus promised living water to the thirsty world if it would just come to Him and drink. I had shared how the thirst Jesus referred to was a spiritual thirst that everyone had for God, and pointed out the folly of trying to fill that thirst with physical things or emotional experiences. The sermon was concluded by showing that God not only fills the thirsty life, but that His Spirit will begin to gush forth out of the believer's heart and life like a river of living water.

 

The first picture in the series of cartoons was of a little hippie character in ecstatic joy with a fountain springing out from his heart. I was struck by Greg's perception and how he had so completely absorbed the message and so graphically portrayed its truth in the little cartoons. Greg saw my absorption in his work, and then asked in a hesitant voice, "Do you like it?" I cried back heartily, "I love it. We need to publish this."

 

We had been looking for a tract that would appeal to the kids on the street, one that they would not take politely, then wad up and toss away. Soon, we were off to the local quick print shop and had 10,000 copies run off. A large group of volunteers spent the afternoon cutting them into pages as others stapled them together. That night all 10,000 tracts were handed out on the streets by some of our eager kids. Demands for more came in immediately from areas where the tracts had found their way. We ultimately printed more than half a million of these tracts.

 

Today Greg Laurie pastors one of the largest churches in California. According to statistics gathered by the International Megachurch Research Center it is one of the ten largest churches in America. It is a conservative estimate to say that twelve thousand different people go through the doors of his church, Harvest Fellowship, every week.

 

As you glimpse the enormous facility approaching it along the outskirts of Riverside, California - it is reminiscent of some aeronautical assembly plant towering above the condominiums near the Kennedy Space Center - you might be surprised to hear Greg tell you that this entire ministry was a "hand-me-down" nobody else wanted. By God's grace alone it has grown into the ministry it is today Greg is careful to tell you that it is God's church and not his.

 

And in Greg himself, God has turned around a life that was once bent in half by one of the worst curses of our culture, divorce. God often confounds the religious pundits of our day by using broken lives in a mighty role.

 

Divorce is a national sin that has marred one family after another, literally tearing this God-ordained institution in half. Children who have lived through one divorce know well enough what haunting loneliness it can create. They also know the feeling of alienation from themselves, from parents, from stepparents, and from friends.

 

Imagine, if you will, someone who has endured several of these parental splits and remarriages, someone who has grown up with his mother and as many as five stepfathers. No one could accuse such a person of being naive about divorce, or inexperienced in the area of loneliness and pain. Surely, this person could stand up as a representative of his entire generation and say, "I know what being from a broken family is like. I have lived through it five times." To see the grace of God overcome this crippling stigma is to triumph over one of the most evil social plagues to hit our world. Greg Laurie knows, because he is that very man.

 

When Christ entered Samaria, he met a woman at the well. As a Jewish rabbi, he broke tradition and shocked her by initiating conversation. He stunned her even more by offering her eternal life. And then He completely revealed the vastness of His grace by acknowledging that He was well aware of the fact that she had been "married" to five other men and the man she was living with was not her husband. Apparently she had a need for love that compulsively drove her, but she never seemed to find fulfillment.

What does this mean for us today? For people like Greg who have suffered from broken homes it is incredibly relevant. If this woman had had a son, I imagine he could cross the twenty centuries of time between them and meet eyes with Greg Laurie, his modern counterpart. With the props of time and culture removed, their emotional experiences would be very much the same. Such are the timeless effects of sin. Neither time nor custom can change them. only grace can remove them. This is what Greg Laurie learned. It was a hard but life-saving lesson, one that he now can share with others.

 

THE TRAUMA

It seemed like any other school day for nine-year-old Greg. hi a few minutes the bell would ring and he planned to run outside and play in New Jersey's autumn air. He liked to chase leaves about in the wind on the way home. Leaves didn't fall off trees in sunny Southern California (where he was born in 1952) as they did here in New Jersey. In fact there were hardly any seasons at all in California.

The move East had meant a big change for Greg, but he had settled into a happy and contented lifestyle. He was basking in the stability and security that he had yearned for over the years. Greg liked his latest stepfather, Oscar Laurie, whom he had come to think of as his real father, the dad he always wanted. Oscar, an intelligent and successful New York lawyer, had always shown Greg genuine kindness and affection. And when Greg needed it, this man of consistency and integrity gave him appropriate discipline. After a string of three other stepfathers Greg finally felt secure.

The bell rang and Greg fired out the school door amidst a swarm of kids and led the charge toward the street. Suddenly his frenzied excitement came to a halt. Greg spotted their family car waiting for him in front of the school. He had an unsettling feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach as if he were watching a tragically sad movie of his life. He walked slowly toward the street. The dread nearly choked him when he saw his mother inside the car. Then he noticed the boxes. Was he about to reexperience a painfully familiar scene?

Greg approached the car. "What's going on?" His mom responded matter-of-factly, "We're leaving."

"Where are we going?"

"We're going to Hawaii."

Then, through waves of fear, the movie image flickering badly, he asked, "Well, where's Dad?"

Dad's not coming." This pronouncement was abrupt and final. The pleasant movie that had once been his life was over. And he had no idea what the next movie script of his life would be.

En route to Kennedy Airport, Greg's mother couldn't ease his tears. And during the long, agonizing flight to Hawaii, Greg reviewed in his mind the parade of faces that had stood in as his dad.

The sense of hopelessness was magnified when Greg saw the next man to enter the role of stepfather. He didn't like this new one standing at the gate at Hawaii's airport, a big rough-cut fellow. This man's face didn't have the tender honesty of Oscar's. He seemed hard, and smooth. Greg's mom, a stunning Marilyn Monroe look-alike whom men had pursued as far back as Greg could remember, stepped into the picture like a seasoned actress. The Hawaiian setting, by all outward appearances, was idyllic, but Greg only saw ugliness. He wanted with all his heart to be back with Oscar Laurie.

They drove from the airport to an opulent house. Al, the new man in his mother's life, was rich. He even had a swimming pool. Soon, Al led them proudly down the hall to Greg's new room.

When Greg stepped into the room, he felt the mocking brunt of a bad joke. It was identical, right down to the last detail - toys, wall color, shelving, and position of the bed - to his room back in New Jersey at Oscar's house. Greg felt betrayed. Never again, he resolved in his heart, would he trust the adult world. It was a hard world of deceivers whose smiles always seemed to belie their motives.

Greg also decided at that moment that he would have to adapt to this world of hardball in order to survive. If life was just a ruthless game, he would need to be very cunning. At the doorway of his new room, Greg had passed a turning point. From then on rebellion became a way of life. He decided that the qualities of virtue, truth, and goodness, which he had once longed for, now seemed to be relegated to fairy tales, forever taunting him with false hope. Whenever they appeared, they vanished like wisps of clouds when he drew near. He had always believed in God in his heart, but God seemed to be too distant, and removed from the sad reality of day to day life.

Al let Greg do anything. He could spend the day running up and down Waikiki beach, while Al and his mom spent the day at his plush hotel bar. Alcohol was a big part of their life. Whereas Oscar had made Greg earn any money beyond his fixed allowance, permissive Al would hand out five dollar bills at the asking. on the outside, things couldn't have been better. on the inside, Greg was empty. He had everything money could buy. Unfortunately, it couldn't buy love.

It also became plain in time that the marriage between Al and Greg's mom was not made in heaven. Their fights became worse, at times loud and violent, as Greg lay awake in bed listening. It wasn't long before this marriage ended in divorce, and Greg and his mother found themselves on the plane again, headed back to Southern California.

 

CHANGING IDENTITIES AND PEER GROUPS

After several problem years in school, Greg entered the tenth grade. By this time he had learned how to be "cool." His goal was to hang out with the seniors. He had a quick mind, good looks, maturity, and natural charm that made him popular with almost any peer group he set his sights on. At Corona Del Mar High School, an affluent school of rich kids, button-down collars, and collegiate haircuts, for an underclassman to be accepted by the seniors was quite a feat. Yet Greg's gift at cynical mockery kept him at the center of attention. Before long he was part of the most elite senior clique, gaining him the privilege of hanging out at Senior Square, the ultimate place to be. An advantage to having little supervision at home was that he could be out all night and nobody cared. Greg and his clique of seniors often drove out to the all-night parties in Palm Springs.

But soon enough, the challenge was over. Greg saw through the clique mentality. All his hard work for acceptance had left him empty and bored. He was also struck by an ever-present sense that it wasn't really friendship that bonded his group together. They really seemed more interested in using each other for selfish ends.

Greg began to feel the same mistrust toward this peer group game as he did about the adult world. Was this conformity-minded clique of seniors any different from the adult society they would soon enter? Greg was no longer interested in their recreational drinking either. Liquor held little mystery for him. After all it had ruined his whole childhood. He had spent countless hours going in and out of bars looking for his mother.

When he reached the eleventh grade, Greg's restlessness led him to try a new identity. He would drop his clean-cut look and become a part of the drug culture. A friend persuaded Greg to transfer to Newport Harbor High School. Newport Beach was a major drug center of California, and this particular high school was famous for spearheading the countercultural drive. on Greg's first day there, he abandoned his collegiate, button-down collar look for jeans and lengthening hair. He also began experimenting with marijuana which was readily available in varieties ranging from Mexican weed to Eukiah Sinsmilla.

In almost no time, Greg was heavily into smoking pot with his new group of friends. Soon, he and his friends were getting stoned three times a day. It was during this time that Kay and I had our first contact with Greg, though we didn't know him at the time. on school lunch breaks he and his friends would go to a house only a few blocks from where my family lived. Kay started to notice this motley crew as they would laugh and joke on their way back to school. Clearly they were on drugs. It was at this point that the burden we felt for the youth subculture became almost intolerable. And that was when Kay and I started to pray for God to open doors for us to reach this alienated generation.

One day while working with a group of laborers dismantling a carnival, Greg was offered LSD. Greg dropped the acid while he worked, and soon was entering a new "spiritual" world where everything seemed to have hidden meanings. Insights kept flashing into his mind. He even "transcended" the fact that he almost got killed by a crane. In his mind this was a mere cosmic love tap. Greg was beginning to see eternity beneath the most ordinary things.

Greg had found a new purpose in life. He would pursue truth through LSD. As an individualist he resisted blind conformity to the hippie movement. Though he looked like any other hippie, he insisted on having his own thoughts. For that reason he did not take part in Eastern religions, nature worship, "be-ins," or communes. But Greg fully embraced the wild freedom of the time. He continued to use LSD regularly on weekends at friends' houses or in the California countryside.

At this time, Greg also began to notice a rather "uncool" group on campus. They were secure enough in their views not to care about social approval. They refused to conform to the new social revolution around them. In fact they seemed bolder than their extreme counterparts, even more than the wildest rebels who defied all morality, standards, and institutions. The heat of conflict caused them to take a highly visible stand in this wildest of high schools. At lunch they often marched across the high school campus singing hymns and handing out tracts. Greg avoided them. They were Christians, the social lepers. The amazing thing about them was that a number had been in the dope scene much more deeply than Greg. Now they handed out tracts and smiled.

Every time Greg was handed a tract, he would look pointedly at the giver while sticking the tract into his back pocket. Greg had a drawer full of them. For some reason he never threw them away. And now and then he would get stoned, pull them out of a drawer, read them, and laugh. But his laughter got rather thin at one point as he found himself on a bad LSD trip. He found himself in an unknown world. Greg discovered that it is a little hard to mock the idea of Hell when you really don't know what lies at the heart of existence.

 

OPENING THE WRONG DOOR

One day Greg and a friend decided to split a mega-dose of "orange sunshine" LSD. He laid down and waited to soar into some unknown realm. Greg felt like a person with a pocket full of skeleton keys that could open one unknown door after another. The quality of the experience was strictly luck of the draw. Greg waited.

Suddenly the air seemed to ripple like water. A wave of insanity swept through him. He felt distinctly that he was losing his grasp on reality. He also became conscious of a feeling of evil - a sort of presence, if you will. Previously LSD had seemed to have a safety switch. Greg felt he could always pull out and escape if things got out of control. It was like toying with a dangerous situation without suffering the consequences, like watching a movie at one of those massive cinemadome theaters. The illusion of being in the action is so great you begin to react to the images on the screen. In an action film, you experience the thrill of being close to death without having to suffer any potential consequences.

Greg began to wonder if there really was a safety valve on LSD. He had heard of people being killed by it or going insane. Could he be sure that he could bail out? What if the insanity did not go away? A new terror flooded him.

As he felt himself going berserk, he wanted to stand in front of a mirror, perhaps to recapture who he was and remember his identity. As he stared his face started to melt. It aged hideously, then it deformed with monstrous contortions. Then something jagged ripped through him, a hideous, pealing laughter. "You're gonna die! You're gonna die!"

Greg ran outside and tried to rip his clothes off. Neighbors stared out through shuttered windows. Greg's friends grabbed him and held him. He kept thinking, I'm in trouble, I need help. I may never get back to where I was.

For months after that Greg felt that his brain was slightly fried. He realized that he did not want to take any more LSD. The stakes were too high.

 

IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD

 

One day Greg felt drawn to a gathering crowd in the school cafeteria. The fellow speaking radiated joyous hope. He was in his twenties and had flaxen hair that went down to his shoulders. He looked like tic had stepped out of a Bay Area billboard advertising a concert like Big Brother and the Holding Company at Golden Gate Park. In fact, judging from his words, he had done it all. But this speaker shared that he had come to the end of his long search - he had found the Lord. He was at Newport Harbor High that day to tell the kids why Christ (and not rock or acid) was the answer to every question they were asking. This fellow was still in the honeymoon of his own conversion experience and was feeling the thrill of it. His joy was infectious. So was his ability to evangelize boldly. Then he said something that brought Greg up short.

Greg had slipped into the back of the crowd. The last thing he wanted to be was a member of the "Jesus People" and become a social outcast. In the back of his mind, he knew deep down that God existed. He remembered as a small child, quietly saying prayers to Him. It was also hard to ignore that often, when he got into tight situations, he would call out to God.

In fact it wasn't long before that Greg and his friends found themselves speeding down the Pacific Coast highway late one night in the rain. They had a kilo of pot in the trunk. Suddenly the car fishtailed wildly out of control. It looked certain that they would crash and die. Greg saw the headlines in his mind, "Drug Dealers Dead," after people found what was in the trunk. But he was never a drug dealer! What a terrible way to go. In a quick breath Greg spoke the prayer, "Oh, God, if You get me out of this I promise I will serve You." He had done this before with God and knew that God had come through every time. But Greg would later retreat on his promises or conveniently forget them.

Now the words of Christ, spoken by the young man, suddenly cut into Greg: "You are either for Me or you are against Me." Greg never realized that. He always knew Christ was real, but he never knew that a choice of this nature existed - to be "for Him or against Him." Which was he? By not being "for Him," Greg was, in fact, in that great crowd against Christ. He had never realized you could be unwittingly against Christ. Apparently something was demanded of him, some kind of positive response. The speaker's eyes, at first mellow and loving, had become flint-like as he echoed Christ's words.

The speaker now challenged the hushed group to be "for" Jesus. Greg also noticed that a girl that he had been interested in for more than a year was one of "them," a Christian. He then began to consider what it would cost him to become a Christian. He squirmed inside because he sensed he would lose his newest identity and his latest group of friends. And what about his freewheeling lifestyle? He lived for himself, for fun. And what if he was asked to make a fool of himself like these campus Christians?

But then there was another consideration eating away at Greg's mind. Because he had felt so betrayed as a child his highest allegiance had always been to find truth at any cost. Could God be the one he was really searching for? He remembered his dark and terrifying encounter with LSD. What if, one day, one of these close brushes with insanity, death, or destruction slammed the safety valve shut permanently? That would be it - the end of his life. What meaning would his life have had then? Nothing noble or good, nothing to be proud of.

Greg Laurie made an eternal decision right before the bell went off for fifth period. He came forward, bowed his head, and that was it. He invited Jesus Christ into his life to be his Lord and Savior, He cast his lot in to be with Christ. He was "for" Christ - finally. Greg also knew he had come to the end of his search. This was it, the truth he longed for all his life.

Before Greg knew it the pretty girl whom he liked threw her arms around him. People surrounded him and patted him on the back. It was wonderful. But now the peer wars would begin. He began to wonder how long could he hide what he had done? As it turned out, not too long. It was Friday and school was almost out. That meant it was time for his old group of friends to go off into the country for the weekend and get stoned.

As was their usual routine, Greg and his friends made their way out to the wilds of nature near a national park. Someone offered Greg an acid tablet. He said no. He left them and went off alone to sit on a rock. Just as he was lighting up a pipe of marijuana, he felt the inner voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to his soul. He knew he would never smoke again. Greg Laurie, that spring day of 1970, threw away his stash as well as his pipe. It was only a day after his conversion, but it seemed like a lifetime of change had already taken place.

 

A FAITHFUL WITNESS

 

Greg went to one of the houses where he and his friends had used drugs countless times. He wanted to break the news of his conversion to them gently. In fact, he left his Bible hidden in the hedge so that he could ward off their preconceptions. Then the mother of one of his drug buddies came through the front door with a smirk on her face and the Bible in her hand. "Whose is this?" When Greg explained to his pals what had happened to him they laughed and jeered. They also expressed disappointment. To their minds, a good drug buddy was becoming a Jesus freak.

Every time Greg was put down or rejected by a different group or a friend, he realized how shallow and unsatisfying those friendships had been. He became more and more convinced that he would not sway from his newfound faith. He became almost overcome by zeal for his faith, and was soon out on the streets witnessing to people. Greg realized that following Christ was an all-or-nothing commitment as far as he was concerned. It also began to dawn on him that, for the first time in his life, he had a purpose. He no longer desired to live for himself, but to be a servant, a witness of his Lord. The old life began to peel away quickly. Within about two weeks of his conversion, Greg lost the last of his friends. Also, within that time, Greg started to go to Calvary Chapel.

Greg's first church experience as a Christian was at one of our evening services. Calvary was growing rapidly and we would soon move from a smaller building into a tent to accommodate the overflow. Greg was momentarily overwhelmed by fear before going through the door. You see, part of the toll that having five stepfathers had extracted from his soul was a very real fear of intimacy, of the vulnerability that love requires. Greg visibly trembled before going in. Finally he squeezed into a front-row seat that a friend had been holding for him, and told me later that I was one of the first adults he was willing to trust. As I taught that night, Greg's heart was set free from mistrust and suspicion to trust. In no time he was attending every function we had, immersing himself in teaching and tapes. It seemed he couldn't get enough of it.

 

WHAT GOD CAN DO WITH A HAND-ME-DOWN

 

Greg had picked up many negative "hand-me-downs" as a non-Christian youth, primarily a deep sense of personal insecurity. But God had also given him a number of positive "hand-me-downs" once he was a Christian. Greg had a tremendous desire to serve and God would soon provide many opportunities. one night, Greg went to a Bible study, and the leader did not show up. No one else had much to say, so Greg started sharing what was on his heart. The host asked him to lead the Bible study the next week and from then on. By this time Greg had been attending Calvary Chapel for a few years.

Another situation helped point Greg toward the plans God had for his life. Greg showed up at Pirates Cove at Corona Del Mar Beach, to witness one of our Calvary Chapel baptisms. By 1972 we were baptizing around nine hundred a month. Greg arrived to find no one was there. He thought he had gotten there too late. Then he saw a group of about thirty Christians singing together on the beach. He joined them, and as he did at the Bible study, Greg started sharing what was on his heart.

Soon two girls arrived and asked Greg if he was a pastor and if he could baptize them. Greg jumped up and said, "Oh, no, I'm not a pastor! I couldn't do that." But they were desperate. They felt that they had to be baptized then and there, and they were crushed that they had missed the Calvary Chapel baptism. They asked him again, and Greg assured them, "I'm not a preacher." Then he felt the voice of the Lord prompting him to honor their request.

Greg turned to the others and said, "Well, these girls need to be baptized. So let's go down to the water and do it." He walked along the beach followed by thirty-two people and thought to himself, What have I gotten myself into? Greg wasn't sure he had all the words right, but he did it. After it was over, two more people showed up and asked to be baptized. And Greg baptized them as well.

Afterward Greg looked up at a rock bluff above him and saw a crowd of curious onlookers. He had already performed the sacrament of baptism, but now he felt God telling him to preach. Greg stood below them and called up, "You may wonder what we are doing down here." When he was finished, a number of them gave their lives to Christ. God had just showed Greg another facet of his ministry. He had been gifted as a preacher and evangelist. As it turned out, the Calvary Chapel baptism came hours after Greg was finished.

When Greg graduated from high school, he had a very strong sense that he was to remain around Calvary Chapel and not go on to college. During that time, he continued ministering and leading Bible studies and working on graphic arts. He was around the office all the time and did numerous things to help the staff as a self-described "gopher." When I was away, he would wait anxiously for the phone to ring, for the secretary would turn those calls over to him. I often wondered what some of those callers would have done if they had known that the person counseling them on the phone was a nineteen-year-old hippie.

The next "hand-me-down" that Greg received came when he was twenty years old, almost three years after he had become a Christian. There was a Bible study in Riverside that had once drawn three hundred people, but had dropped to eighty. The problem came in finding someone to drive all the way to Riverside from Costa Mesa to lead it. My son, Chuck, Jr., had helped start and nourish it, but he felt called to start another church. After him, a string of leaders took it short term. Then one day as the group searched desperately for a leader (and after everyone else had turned it down) they offered it to Greg.

Greg was eager to get any crumb that fell off the table, so he leaped at the opportunity. That dwindling Bible study would soon become the huge Harvest Fellowship of Riverside.

When Greg took the Bible study, attendance jumped back up to three hundred almost overnight. They shared the use of another church building, and young people flocked in. There were articles in the local papers about this phenomenon of counterculture youths turning to Christ and the dynamic and innovative leadership of Greg Laurie. He soon began traveling all over the country with evangelistic rallies.

As attendance grew, Greg felt the Lord directing them to move into their own building. About a year after joining the fellowship he found a church facility that was no longer in use, and before long I was with Greg in the realtor's office. After I wrote out the down payment, I felt the thrill of telling Greg, "You just got yourself a church."

The fellowship of three hundred jumped to five hundred at their very first service. In one year they doubled in size. That necessitated multiple services.

By 1974, Riverside Calvary Chapel (as ft was then called) met in the downtown Civic Center on Sunday evenings. It had 1,500 seats. Meanwhile they expanded their church building for the morning services. But by 1980, after five years of steady growth, Greg knew that they had to build a new building. The result was the colossal structure that towers over Riverside today with the big sign "Harvest Christian Fellowship." Today, with four packed services on Sunday, they have more than 12,000 attending.

In addition to pastoring, Greg also has a passion for evangelism. The Lord has opened many great opportunities for Greg to use his gifts in recent years, from radio rallies for his nationally syndicated radio program, A New Beginning, to full-fledged evangelistic crusades.

In 1990, after seeing the tremendous response Greg's messages received at our Monday night Bible study, I felt the Greg should try a larger outreach. Already, an average of 100 young people were accepting Christ weekly at these meetings. That summer, we decided to hold a five-night crusade at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa. The crusade exceeded all expectations as record crowds filled the arena and hundreds committed their lives to Christ.

So began the opening chapter of what would become Harvest Crusades, Incorporated. Within weeks, Greg and his crusade organizers received requests for outreaches from churches in various other cities in the country. Since that very first Harvest Crusade almost three years ago, Greg has had the opportunity to preach the gospel message to nearly 540,000 people in Anaheim, California, Honolulu, Hawaii, San Diego, California, and several other cities on the West Coast. Of that number, close to 32,000 have committed their lives to Christ.

One of the greatest evangelistic opportunities Greg had, however, took place during a radio rally in New York. A special person from Greg's past was living in nearby New Jersey: one Oscar Laurie, the only man Greg ever considered to be his father. Greg went to see Oscar and introduced him to his pretty young wife, Cathe. He also got to do something else - and this is where we see God's incredible redemptive plan. Greg was also able to introduce his father to the one who had changed his life - Jesus Christ.

Since Oscar had suffered a serious heart attack, he was beginning to weigh eternal values against temporal ones. The next day he said, "Greg, I thought about what you said last night. And I want to know what I must do to be saved and accept Jesus Christ into my life."

Greg again shared with Oscar the essence of the Gospel. Oscar replied, "I am ready to do it right now." They both knelt down and prayed. Oscar began to weep and then asked Greg if God could heal is heart. Greg blurted out, "Yes."

Then Oscar, with child-like faith, prayed for healing. In minutes, they were both convinced that God had touched him. And indeed, something had happened to Oscar both physically and spiritually. Today, Oscar Laurie is in good health, and an elder in his church and his wife and two sons are all Christians. Greg looks at this - along with everything else he has seen the Lord do in his life - with pure awe and gratitude.

As we have looked at the life of Greg Laurie, we have seen the story of a man who has had five stepfathers come to discover that he had an eternal Father in heaven all along. Greg realized that God has taken his weaknesses and used even his flaws for His glory Greg has also learned not to seek the approval of men, but of God. The huge numbers that his life has touched testify to Christ's promise of multiplying the numbers of sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers He would add to our true family in Him.

Of particular joy to him was meeting Cathe, his wife. Her appearing in Greg's life has shown God's promise that if you seek His will, He will give you the desires of your heart that are according to His will. As you recall, Greg had also been terrified of love. Now Cathe has provided him the love he always yearned for, a wholesome, loving, and stable family. And if you look at Greg and Cathe today, you learn that with God's help, it is even possible for someone from a radically unstable family background to be blessed in marriage.

When it is all said, I am not sure which is the greater gift to Greg: the harvest of his ministry, or his marriage to Cathe and their two sons. Either way, God has worked a miracle that keeps increasing, like the loaves and the fishes, from a few "hand-me-downs" to the feeding of thousands.

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