Thousands Flock to Revival in Search of Miracles
Thousands of believers are flocking to Florida, hoping for a miracle.
LAKELAND, Fla., July 9, 2008— -- UPDATE: After this story aired on "Nightline," Fresh Fire Ministries released a statement announcing that preacher Todd Bentley would be taking time off "to refresh and to rest" after having spent four months in Lakeland, Fla., leading revival meetings. Their Lakeland broadcasts on GOD TV were put on hold. Bentley returned on July 18 and has resumed broadcasting from Lakeland.
A middle-aged woman suffering from ovarian cancer shakes back and forth, speaking in tongues.
A young child with spina bifida and splints on his legs tears them off and bolts across the stage. He cries as he declares that his legs have strength like never before.
"The boy's been healed," says the preacher as thousands cheer him on.
Meanwhile, Bill Wise sits quietly with one arm raised to the sky, the other tightly clutching his 2-year-old daughter, who was born with her bladder and colon outside of her body.
He prays for a miracle.
Todd Bentley, a tattooed Canadian, stands with a microphone in one hand and the other stretched out to this electrified crowd of nearly 10,000.
"Bam!" He yells. "Bam, bam, bam!"
Several people onstage with him collapse to the ground.
Bentley has led a rapidly growing throng of people from all over the world in a religious revival that has transformed the small city of Lakeland, Fla., into the center of an international phenomenon.
Wise flew from Seattle with his daughter, Caelyn, in hopes that Bentley would be able to help his child where modern medicine has failed.
Like so many here, Wise believes Bentley has a special connection with God.
"He is very close with the Lord," Wise said. "He has actively and passionately pursued God. My daughter needs a miracle."
Tens of thousands of others like Wise are making a pilgrimage to this small city in central Florida in hopes of finding a miracle.
Thanks to the Internet and satellite television, word of the revival spread quickly around the world to people like Jim Carter, who came to Lakeland from Anaheim, Calif., with his wife and daughter.
"We've been watching on the Internet since it started, basically," he said. "We just wanted to come down and first-hand experience."
Carter added, "We just want more of God, more of his presence and to see God change our country and bring America back to God."