3 - Harvest America crusade covers the nation from Philadelphia
The Harvest America crusade, featuring pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie, took place over the weekend, beginning on Saturday night, when a crowd estimated at more than 17,500 filled Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, according to a report on The Christian Post website. In addition, more than 2,000 host locations, including large and small venues such as churches and homes, were registered to watch Harvest America live as well. The leadership team from Harvest Crusades selected Philadelphia for the event because of its history as the birthplace of our nation, organizers said. Many believe the U.S. is at a new historic crossroads and hope that events such as this can help spark spiritual renewal.
According to that report, on Saturday night, Laurie asked rhetorically, "Are we happy people?" He gave several examples of celebrities whose obsessive pursuit of happiness led to the realization that there lives were empty-feeling. He then explained that Jesus is the only true source of joy, and beyond that, offers eternal salvation by his dying on the cross and resurrection from death.
Before his Gospel message, musical artists Lecrae, The Katinas, Kirk Franklin, and NEEDTOBREATHE performed. Sunday night, musical artists scheduled to perform were Jeremy Camp, MercyMe, and The Katinas.
Laurie had told The Christian Post that, "We are excited about the difference this crusade will make in the lives of individuals around our nation, as many who come will be hearing the hope of the Gospel message for the very first time...We believe this is a pivotal time in our nation's history, and this weekend represents a chance to turn back to God and see revival sweep our land."
During his message Saturday evening, he said, "All have sinned, recognize there is a savior, his name is Jesus, repent of your sin, run to God not away, receive Jesus into your life ... Being a Christian means more than knowing about Jesus it means He lives inside you."
At one point he added, "Good people don't go to heaven, forgiven people do."
2 - Christians pray for Iranian-American pastor on one-year anniversary of his imprisonment
The Harvest America event came at the end of a week where instances of cooperative prayer had been taking place across the land. Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the imprisonment of Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor who has been held in Tehran's brutal Evin Prison. On that anniversary date, there were numerous prayer gatherings that were being encouraged, including a group that gathered in the nation's capital.
Pastor Saeed was mentioned in a conversation that was held this week between President Obama and new Iranian President Rouhani. According to Religion News Service, in that 15-minute phone call that included other issues, the American President expressed his concern about three American citizens who have been held within Iran — Robert Levinson, Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati — and noted U.S. interest in seeing them reunited with their families.
Earlier this week, Rouhani had crossed paths with Abedini’s wife at the United Nations. Naghmeh Abedini rushed to give a letter from her husband to one of Rouhani’s aides, who promised to give it to the president. With the news of Obama’s conversation with Rouhani, she called it an “answer to prayer.”
Also, this week, Naghmeh spoke at Liberty University, saying 30 people in Evin Prison, where Abedini is held, have become Christians because of him. Billy Graham, in an ad in the New York Times, called for pastor Saeed's release, printing a copy of a letter that he had sent President Rouhani.
At the website, www.beheardproject.com, over 626,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Pastor Saeed's release. And, letters have been sent by over 131,000 people. This shows a high degree of motivation for people about the cause of religious freedom.
1 - Millions of students gather at school flagpoles in annual "See You at the Pole" event
Students across America gathered to pray for their schools this past Wednesday as part of the 23rd annual See You At The Pole event. Students from middle schools and high schools, as well as colleges and universities, showed up early to pray for their leaders, schools, and families.
According to CBN.com, since its inception, the See You At the Pole movement has spread to more than 20 countries.
A piece on the AL.com website mentioned that perhaps as many as 2 million were anticipated to take part in the event, including thousands of students in Alabama. It mentioned First Priority, which helps to assist students in organizing events in the Birmingham area. The piece stated that, "The movement toward religious clubs meeting on campus and organizing prayer rallies before school gained steam after the 1984 Equal Access Act granted student-led religious clubs the same right to meet on campus as other clubs. The law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1990." Christian legal groups informed students of their rights to assemble and lead prayer gatherings in non-instructional time, and offered assistance in case administrators did not allow the expression to take place.
The Wednesday activities were billed as part of a Global Week of Student Prayer, which began Sunday, the 22nd, and continued through Saturday. The theme for this year's See You at the Pole events was centered in 2nd Chronicles 7:14, featuring #IFthen, recognizing that passage of Scripture says IF we pray, seek, turn. THEN God hears, forgives, heals.