Thousands Flock to Revival in Search of Miracles

At 15, Bentley was incarcerated for sexual abuse, a crime he committed when he was 13 against a younger boy.

Bentley, however, doesn't shy away from talking about his past and takes responsibility for his crimes.

"I'm very open about my past.  I've written a book and it's in my autobiography," he said. "I served time in prison for my crime."

"I'd break into vehicles, I'd steal, as I got older, I'd take your pot, I'd take your drugs.  I got involved with people who were affiliated with gangs and bikers."

At 18, Bentley said he found God, something he neither expected nor anticipated.

"God found me in my drug dealer's trailer and spoke to me in an audible voice," he said. "I was instantly delivered from drug and alcohol addiction, I never had one craving, not one withdrawal symptom, I was transformed from that man to the man that I am today."

"I see myself, you know, as a sinner saved by grace the same way the tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners were saved in the Bible," Bentley said.

It's not clear if the tens of thousands who are coming to Lakeland know all about Bentley's past, but they do know that he makes a virtue of repenting and embracing the Lord.

A Town Reacts

Amidst the frenetic passion of the revival not everyone is embracing the movement with open arms.

Ellen Simms owns a small store on Main Street, and though she has seen an increase in business over the past few weeks, the whole movement makes her uncomfortable.

"Miracles may happen, but this is such theater that it bothers me," she said while sitting behind the counter of her store in downtown Lakeland. "I'm not buying it."

Others are even more skeptical.

"They're just using this as a gimmick to make money," said June Cochran, who has been in a wheelchair all her life due to cerebral palsy.

Cochran said that people from the revival have lobbied her to attend the revival so that she can be "cured." She's a deeply religious person but she is offended by the tone of Bentley's revival.

"At first I didn't know how to respond, but they're not hearing what they're saying. They're saying that there is something wrong with us and that if we do not have our self-esteem already built up, it tears us down even more. Like we're not even worthy to be here."

Rev. Jeff White, a pastor at a local Missionary church in Lakeland, heard so much talk about Todd Bentley and the revival tent that he wanted to see it for himself.

He struggled with what he saw.

"I've had to fight skepticism and cynicism because I truly believe that God heals. I really believe his powers are real and it is today," White said. "I can't say that my spirit enters in and joins in with some of the things we've seen here tonight."

Bentley said he expects skepticism and embraces it.

"I would encourage the skeptic, come to a meeting, sit in a meeting for two days, see what happens to you," he said. "I'll pray for a skeptic. I'm not afraid of skeptics, I expect skeptics."

The Healing Touch?

When asked to present evidence of the healings, Bentley promised to give "Nightline" the names and medical records of three followers who would talk openly about his miracles. He never delivered. Instead, his staff gave "Nightline" a binder filled with what he says are inspiring miracles, but with scant hard evidence. It offered incomplete contact information, a few pages of incomplete medical records, and the doctors' names were crossed out.

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