On July 8, 2023, on a little beach in Southern California, 4,500 people publicly committed their lives to Jesus at, possibly, the largest baptism in history.
This event, associated with Harvest Christian Fellowship in Irvine, CA, took place at Pirate’s Cove, which you may recognize from the movie “Jesus Revolution.” Pastor Greg Laurie commented that they had 3,800 people RSVP to be baptized and ended up baptizing 4,500! This surpassed an event held earlier this year where 4,100 more people were baptized!
Pastor Laurie believes it was likely one of the largest baptisms in history, calling it “a baptism of Biblical proportions” since we know the disciple Peter baptized 3,000 people in one day from Acts 2:41 on the day of Pentecost.
Photo credit: Harvest Christian Fellowship, Vitaly Manzuk
Greg Laurie’s faith story was recently documented in the film, Jesus Revolution. Greg grew up in Southern California and was baptized himself at Pirate’s Cove on his journey to becoming a pastor. Many similar baptisms were happening often at Pirate’s Cove in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. Since that time, baptisms have continued at this location, but none this large.
If you’ve seen the movie, Jesus Revolution, the baptism scenes were filmed at Pirate’s Cove. So you can picture what this mass baptism looked like! Greg said the cliffs surrounding the beach were filled with 20,000 spectators. Those participating in the baptism lined up for ½ mile, some waited over 2 hours to be baptized.
The event was advertised on social media bringing people from around the nation and the world. Many people had recently become Christians because of the Jesus Revolution movie and wanted to be baptized in the same place.
Photo credit: Harvest Christian Fellowship
One particularly special baptism took place when Greg was able to baptize his granddaughter, Stella, in the same water he had been baptized in years before.
Greg shared about another memorable moment from the event:
“At one point, the line really got slowed down because an older couple was taking longer to get down the stairs. But when we met him, his story was so amazing because he watched the movie at 85 years old and accepted Jesus into his life. His family said, ‘We never, ever thought he would come to Christ.’”
The Harvest Church founder said the man “was not a believer” before seeing the movie, but that he accepted Christ afterward, and then headed to Pirate’s Cove to publicly affirm his faith in Jesus. He added that his commitment to faith and baptism shows “It’s never too late. Never give up on people. Never stop praying for people.”
A team of pastors were on site, counseling and praying with the crowds. They are also committed to continue helping everyone who participated by connecting people to local churches and showing them the next steps on their spiritual journey.
With these baptism’s getting so much attention, many people have questions about what baptism is all about.
What Is Baptism?
Baptism is a symbolic announcement of our decision to follow Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, he was buried then resurrected from death. Going under the water and coming back up helps us remember what Christ did for us and represents leaving our old life behind and being “born again”, beginning a new life as a follower of Christ.
Why Get Baptized?
While baptism is not a requirement for salvation, it’s something Jesus asked us to do. It is more than a tradition. We are declaring our decision to become a Christian publicly.
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. | Acts 2:38
Jesus set the example by being baptized himself. While John the Baptist was baptizing new Christians in the Jordan River, Jesus came to him to be baptized.
Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”
But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” | Matthew 3:13-17
Where Should I Be Baptized?
Baptisms can take place anywhere, the location is significant because of what has happened in your life, not because of where you are.
When my church was new, we rented a retail space to meet in before our church building was able to be built. When it came time for the first baptism, the pastor realized there was not a place for baptism. He went out and bought a horse trough to baptize people in! We also had baptisms at a local lake until our church had a permanent home. So, whether you’re at Pirate’s Cove, the Jordan River, a small local church, or your neighbor’s swimming pool, it’s not where you are, but the new life you’re beginning that matters.
When Should I Be Baptized?
The qualification of baptism is to believe in God and repent of your sin (Acts 2:38). Many people choose to be baptized immediately. For different reasons, others have waited. Just know that it’s never too late. If you are a believer in Christ and have not been baptized, talk with a Christian friend or pastor about what to do next.
If you have more questions about baptism, Harvest Christian Fellowship provides answers to some frequently asked questions here.
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