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O.C.'s Shortened Harvest Crusade Is Long on Song, Sport and Spirit

Times Staff Writer

Slimmed down to a single day to make way for an upcoming Billy Graham revival, Harvest Crusade organizers gave a Saturday crowd of 30,000 at Angel Stadium a concentrated dose of rock band performances, motorcycle and skateboard exhibitions, sing-along worship music and, at evening’s end, invitations to become Christians.

“One day to praise the Lord is just as good as three,” said Jacquie Barragan, 38, of Irvine.

The afternoon was given over to the Harvest Crusade’s second annual Summerfest, a mix of Christian rock, demonstrations of extreme sports and other activities designed to attract young people -- Christian and non-Christian alike. An estimated 21,000 spectators attended this year’s event, the warmup to the evening’s Harvest Crusade.

Jimmy Williams, 18, of Riverside came to watch freestyle motocross champion Mike Metzger.

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“I ride a [Kawasaki] KX 250, basically the same as him,” Williams said. “He’s a nice guy; he doesn’t try to be like everyone else.”

Christian Hosoi, one of America’s top professional skateboarders in the 1980s, said he was thrilled to skate at the Christian event, especially after banging his knee badly a few days ago.

The 36-year-old Hawaii resident, recently released from a federal prison on a drug charge, devoted his life to Christ soon after his arrest in 2000 and has been working to help other young people find God and stay out of trouble. “When you get your priorities in order,” he said, “it’s all about Christ and not about us.”

Throughout the afternoon, the stadium boomed with loud Christian rock from bands including Skillet, the Elms, Tree63 and By the Tree.

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The evening featured an ending message by Pastor Greg Laurie, the founder of the Riverside-based Harvest Christian Fellowship and creator of the Harvest Crusade.

The idea behind the revival is to attract people who feel comfortable in a sports stadium but might not walk inside a church.

Staged at the stadium for three- and four- night runs each summer for 15 years, the revival meeting was scaled down this year to a single day to accommodate a planned appearance by Billy Graham at the Rose Bowl this month, organizers said. But Graham suffered a broken pelvis in May and postponed his California appearance until November.

Harvest leaders said that by then, it was too late to change their schedule.

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The compressed event had its advantages, said Debbie Lucas, 46, of Downey, who was at the event with her husband, Michael, 48, and children Erik, 20, and Emily, 10.

“Normally, you have people who say, ‘Let’s go Saturday, not Friday,’ and then they don’t go at all,” she said. “If you’re given a choice, you put it off. Now you have one choice.”

Even at one day, skateboarder Hosoi is happy to be a part of the crusade: “Today is testimony to me wanting to be available for God’s glory, to honor him with my life, with my gift and love and share it with anyone who cares.”


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