I was recently interviewed by Dan Wooding of the ASSIST News Service. This interview has been picked up by a few Web sites, so I thought I would share it with you.
The agony and joy of Greg Laurie
He talks about the tragic death of his son Christopher and the birth of his new granddaughter, Lucy Christopher Laurie.
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
SANTA ANA, CA (ANS) — Thursday, July 24, 2008 was the most devastating day of Greg Laurie’s life. The unimaginable happened when his son Christopher, 33, was killed in a tragic car accident on the 91 freeway on his way to work as art director of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, at which Greg is the senior pastor.
Christopher was survived by his wife, Brittany, and daughter, Stella, as well as his brother Jonathan.
Now comes the news that Lucy Christopher Laurie was born recently to Christopher’s widow, Brittany, and Laurie announced that she has been given that middle name in honor of her father.
In a moving interview at an Operation Christmas Child shoe box event in Santa Ana, California, Greg Laurie talked about the devastation he felt when he received news of Christopher’s fatal auto accident.
I began by asking him how he and his wife Cathe were dealing with the situation, and he replied, “Well, you know, it’s hard. As Christians, we know he’s in Heaven, we know he’s happier than he’s ever been, we know we’ll see him again, but we miss him. I miss him every day and now, in the holidays, it’s hard because there are so many reminders of him and we just miss him.
“We miss his voice and his presence and his laugh and his thoughts and everything about him. It’s like a big piece of you is missing. But we just press on because I’ve been preaching about Christ and about the hope of Heaven for 35 years and here is a time for me to just live that out.
“I have had to tell myself, ‘You believe in this. Do you really believe you’re going there [to Heaven]? Do you really believe that you’re calling people to believe in Christ so they can go there too?’ Well, yes, I do. Now I have an investment there. It makes Heaven closer and it makes earth less appealing to me and it just reminds me of what I need to be doing more of. But I still really, really miss my son.”
On the Sunday after Christopher’s death, a guest preacher took Greg Laurie’s place in the pulpit, but the congregation gasped when Laurie suddenly appeared to make a statement.
He explained: “I didn’t really preach. I just got up and said a few words and it ended up going a little longer than I thought it would, but for me, I did it for myself as much as I did it for them. I just felt that I needed to tell people that I was ok because I knew there was a great outpouring of sympathy for our family and I wanted to tell people that our faith is real that the promises of God are true and that God was helping us through it.
“I’m not trying to put a happy face on it and say it’s easy and everything is just wonderful, no, we’re struggling; we’re suffering, but yet Christ is with us in our suffering and He’s sustaining us and we have this hope and you know as the Bible says, ‘We don’t sorrow as those that have no hope.’ Christians sorrow when we lose loved ones. Maybe we sorrow more because our love is deeper and we’re not into denial.
“People who aren’t believers are the ones in denial. They’re the ones that will turn to drink or just try to ignore something. We’re the ones – Christians — that will say, ‘This happened. It’s horrible, but we believe this and we’re trusting in God.’ So it was something that I did for myself as well and when I preached in Anaheim [at the Harvest Crusade] three weeks later, I told everyone, ‘I’m preaching to myself as much as I’m preaching to you because I need to hear these truths that I’m proclaiming. This is not my material the Lord wrote the script I’m just a delivery boy.’ I needed to hear it, and still need to hear it as much as anyone else as I proclaim it.”
Greg Laurie’s face then broke into a huge smile when I asked him about the birth of Christopher’s second daughter.
“Thank you for asking,” he said. “Our second grandchild and Christopher’s second daughter, Lucy Christopher Laurie, was born on Wednesday (November 26) at eight twenty and she’s about twenty inches long and around eight pounds and she’s very healthy. And as I mentioned her middle name is after her daddy. She’s just sweet and adorable and she’s doing very well.”
I then asked him how, Brittany, his daughter-in-law, was doing.
“She is doing amazingly well,” he said. “She misses her husband terribly, especially now in the holiday season. I was told by a lot of people who have had children die that it was going to be real hard at Christmas, so we kind of knew this was coming and they were right. But Brittany is trusting the Lord and right now, as we speak, she’s at a Bible study with my wife.
“We had a crusade back in Philadelphia before her baby was born and here she was, basically nine months pregnant, down on the floor doing follow-up counseling with people. They didn’t know that was my son’s wife; they just saw some pretty blond girl talking to them, but here she was just serving the Lord. So I think she’s really handling it well. No one can get over something like this, but we’re all, as a family, getting through it.”
Greg Laurie then said, “I think all my problems that I’ve faced up to this point don’t even come close to what happened with my son. However, I’m called to preach the Gospel and I’m called to serve Him. I will do that till my last breath and I don’t care what’s wrong with me. When Christopher went to heaven, I thought the last thing he would have wanted was for me to cancel the crusade in Anaheim, or not speak this year. So it never even crossed my mind to not speak.”
During the previous Harvest Crusade, Greg suffered from vertigo and had great trouble standing up at the podium each night. So after two traumatic years, I asked him if he was still prepared to preach at the 2009 outreach.
“I know I should do this,” he said. “Who knows what will come next, but you know the devil hates evangelism. And any time we undertake it for the Kingdom we’re going to face opposition, but we have to just keep pressing on.”