Christian Crusade Has Billboard Banished from LA Shopping Mall
By Tess Farrand, Contributing Writer
Each year, Harvest Christian Fellowship Church puts on a series of special events called the Harvest Crusades. The crusades are a multi-faceted event that takes place around the country where thousands of people searching for a deeper spiritual connection hear the word of God. The crusades include, worship, testimonials and a call to the altar where new believers profess their faith in Jesus.
Harvest is gearing up for their SoCal Harvest crusade which will take place at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California August 17-19. SoCal Harvest will feature MercyMe (the band who inspired I CAN ONLY IMAGINE), Christian rapper Andy Mineo and Phil Wickman, who serves as a staff worship leader, along with many others.
As per usual advertisement strategies, Harvest paid for many billboards detailing the crusade at the Fashion Island Mall in Newport Beach, California. If you’ve visited the Movieguide® website recently, you’ve most likely seen our banners advertising for the crusade. This same image, of Pastor Greg holding a bible – an homage to Billy Graham – was taken down by the mall.
A formal statement by Greg Laurie reads, “It’s disappointing that billboards advertising the SoCal Harvest – an event that positively impacts people throughout our community each year has done so now for 29 years and running- were removed from the Fashion Island Mall and the Irvine Spectrum Center this past week, all because the ads contained an image of the Bible. Countless people throughout the ages have been transformed by the Bible, and its impact around the world is literally impossible to quantify. Instead of being offended by it, people ought to pick it up, read it and see for themselves what it has to say. I believe our communities, our cities, our nation, and the world will be immeasurably better off the more famous the Bible become.”
Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son and Director of The Samaritan’s Purse tweeted, “Even a picture of a preacher holding a Bible is now too offensive? My good friend Pastor @GregLaurie has an event coming up & they had a banner designed to promote it. Someone complained, & the mall took the banners down. This should concern us for our nation. I wish people knew that the Bible holds the answers to what troubles the human heart. God wants to heal broken hearts, and bring comfort, wisdom and peace to all who will turn to Him by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.”
The executive director of Harvest, John Collins told CBN about the adjustments they made, “We changed it to a more simplified ad that simply said, ‘Harvest,’ giving the dates and some of the musical artists that are going to be with us. Then, they came and said they just wanted the ads completely removed and they refunded us.”
The banishment of these posters is greatly unjust. Grad student Shania Cole professed faith in Jesus at age four but attended the SoCal Harvest as a teenager. Cole spoke to Movieguide® on how the crusade impacted her faith; “it was a meaningful time of reflection, worship and reconnection with Jesus. God is always pursuing us, and we just need to take a moment to stop and listen.”
Likewise, Bellamy Harden a student at UNC-Chapel Hill recalls how she rededicated her life at a Harvest crusade; “it was one of the most impactful events I’ve ever attended. I recommitted there and truly understood the power of faith.”
Pastor Greg took to his blog to further explain the recent headlines surrounding the billboards; “I see images on billboards and displays in stores that I find offensive all the time. I do not complain or boycott. I just think as Christians we ought to have ‘equal time’ and a voice in the marketplace. Why are people so frightened of the Bible? Think of the words of George Washington, ‘It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible,’ and President Abraham Lincoln’s thoughts on the Bible: ‘In regards to this great Book, I have but to say it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this Book. But for it, we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are found portrayed in it.’”
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