Making People Fishers of Men

When I was a kid, there was no such thing as a Harvest Crusade.

In fact, I don’t think we had anything even close to the Orange County-born phenomenon. There were no stadiums full of people, or Gen-X bands playing music for the Lord. No, there was nothing of the sort-not even a cool bumper sticker to put on my skateboard

There were certainly no web casts, which the Harvest Crusade folks are now offering–free of charge, of course–on their website.

It’s amazing.

What started at the Pacific Amphitheater in 1990 has grown into a mega-event attracting millions around the country. And though some might say that it’s crossed the line between Christian fellowship and social event, founder Greg Laurie has managed to hang onto its most admirable traits:

It’s still free

It’s still non-profit

It’s still about Jesus and the Bible

It’s fun.

The fact that it’s fun is the most important ingredient. How else can you convince people that God is worth their time unless you make it a fun and exciting experience? No one wants to worship a deadbeat God like the one before the Harvest Crusade–back when the closest thing we had to fun and the Lord was Bible camp.

No music. No party streamers. Just God and a woodshop class.

Call me simple, but I liked it that way. I remember one year in particular. The challenge was to make cutting boards, so when the teacher gave me the old, lead-heavy paper pattern, I jumped right in, tracing the shape onto a thick piece of knotty Pine. Then I cut it out–this took a few tries, because my lines were lopsided and I didn’t have a real firm grasp on the jigsaw. But I persevered, even though the camp counselor got a bit fed up watching me cut it out wrong.

As this was Bible camp, she could only mutter under her breath while I tried and tried again.

On the third day I carved it. I can still remember holding my breath as I cut each letter into the face, and ever so carefully wiped the stain into the words of the saying:

Jesus said, “Come with Me and I will Make You Fishers of Men.”

From Bible camp to the Harvest Crusade, it’s still about the same thing: making people Fishers of Men, teaching people about God and discovering the precious wisdom of the Bible.

That summer, so long ago, I learned that God so loved the world that he made places kids could go to make cutting boards and, in the process, get a little closer to him.

I wonder if today’s kids can get as close to the Jumbotron God we now worship, and if He can deliver the same message of personal love and sacrifice I received on my own, so many years ago, in a dark and dusty woodshop class.

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