“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).
It has been said that we can live 40 days without food, 3 days without water, and approximately 8 minutes without air; however, we can’t live a second without hope.
That’s what Pastor Greg Laurie demonstrates in A Rush of Hope, his cinematic masterpiece premiering Labor Day weekend on several digital platforms across the country. Summer is typically a busy time for our church, as we prepare feverishly for Harvest Crusades. Every August, and for the last 30 years, we’ve seen over 6 million people attending in person, and more than 500,000 making professions of faith. 2020 has been anything but typical, and this year’s crusades have become a casualty of the ongoing pandemic. While mass gathering was out of the question, Pastor Greg sensed a need for the community to find comfort and hear a message which would bring people together. His ambitious film filled that purpose in a way that has not been done before.
A Rush of Hope is his answer to the growing questions most of us have had while going through difficulties: Why are we here? What is our answer to challenging circumstances? How do we cope with loss?
There can be no doubt that we are living in contentious times; an ongoing pandemic, social unrest, and an upcoming hotly contested election are a few of the things that are impacting our global society. This leads us to question our very existence, and, after all is said and done, faith and our relationship with God becomes an essential part of the national (some would say global) conversation.
What’s the old saying? “There are no atheists in a foxhole.” Amidst a growing sense of uncertainty, men and women are more inclined to turn to God to get the answers they desperately want and need.
The film breaks down those queries in three distinct stories; growing social unrest in the ‘60s and ‘70s in the South, a story of redemption between a father and a son, and a tragic loss between a young man and his wife. With a mix of storytelling, featuring music from Bart Millard and MercyMe, as well as live performances by artists such as for KING & COUNTRY and Jeremy Camp, and compelling narration from Pastor Greg, it brings those issues front and center and examines the role God plays in healing us and helping us move forward.
As Pastor Greg mentions, “there is no magic bullet”; God is not a “fixer.” There are no convenient answers, but only the truth. Sometimes that truth hits us right between the eyes and makes for rather uncomfortable conversations. That’s where Pastor Greg shines. His uncanny ability to keep God at the center of any conversation, while making it comfortable for non-believers to be a part of it, is a skill that can only be acquired through a myriad of uncomfortable moments. He has experienced real loss (with Christopher’s tragic and untimely passing) and is able to parlay these experiences into the kind of empathy that is rarely seen, whether you are a pastor or not. As most of you know, he is a famously plain-spoken man. An everyday man. Forget for a moment that he is the spiritual leader of a very large congregation. This is the kind of man that hops on his motorcycle and goes riding with a few of the guys and enjoys the fellowship of his fellow men.
How does this relate to the film? In every possible way. Through his gentle yet firm manner, his teaching of the Bible is why people tune in. He makes the complicated simple, the sometime nebulous verses easily understood, all with the aw-shucks manner that he has become famous for.
Every. Single. Time. It comes back to a simple message: Do you have a relationship with Jesus? It’s that direct. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not about religion (for the record, Laurie thinks that “religious” people are a bit odd); it’s about an essential relationship. It’s about believing that with Him we are not alone. It’s about our willingness to walk through the fire and still trust and, more importantly, believe.
As one of the stories in the film relates, we choose to still believe as a result of the challenges, not in spite of them. Now more than ever, this message resonates with the audience who has heard all the arguments and experienced the discord and the anger. We need more; we should want more.
A Rush of Hope is what we need today. A message out of a mess, stories of loss and acrimony, of love, redemption and compassion. But at the end of it all, it is still about one thing: hope.
A Rush of Hope, a cinematic crusade from Greg Laurie and Harvest ministries, will release this Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4–7. The film will be available on dozens of online social channels and on several national cable networks and streaming services.