Kid Preacher Can't Make Believer Out of Everyone

Fourth-grader heads his own successful ministry. Skeptics say it's all show biz.

ByABC News
May 12, 2009, 11:04 AM

May 18, 2009 -- Terry Durham, an ordained pastor, speaks in tongues and claims an ability to heal the sick. He is a proven draw, filling churches with adoring congregants across the country. A little bit shy in person, Terry has a beautiful singing voice.

But what really makes him unique is his age: Terry Durham is just 11 years old.

Terry is hardly the first child preacher. There are child preachers all over the Internet, from toddlers to teens. And long before the Internet, a select group of child preachers found fame and fortune traveling the United States and sermonizing.

Many have grown up and revealed their disenchantment with their early lives, so we wanted to see what the Terry Durham Ministries was all about.

Watch the story tonight on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET.

Terry was ordained at age 6 by his grandmother in the True Gospel Deliverance Ministry, a nondenominational storefront church she founded in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. At age 8 he began traveling the region, then the country, and then internationally, speaking before ever-growing audiences of the faithful.

Through it all his grandmother, Sharon Monroe, a preacher in her own right, has acted as Terry's guardian and guide.

"I truly believe that Terry Durham is one that was chosen by God, to let the world know that his spirit still lives," Monroe told ABC News.

Terry agreed.

"I am one of God's chosen ones, and he uses me because I am willing to go the right way, do the right thing," said Terry. "I, I am his chosen one. ... To me it means, like, you're the one who God was calling you, from ever since you were in your mother's womb."

In the pulpit, Terry Durham is in his element. He receives a parade of ailing congregants, seeking to be healed.

"Soooooooooo be set free tonight Lord, in the naaammme of Jesus-huh!" the boy bellowed from the pulpit. "But like huh! Booo yeaah!"

He lets out a high-pitched scream and waves a white towel.

"Ohkillybassabassa, works it out now brother of God, you know what we need you to do, yeeeeaaaa! Yeaaaaa!

"Mother, lift your hands, huh -- I just want ya to put your feet apart, huh!"

But does Terry really have the power to heal? Although ABC News was not able to independently verify his ability to heal, it has not dampened his grandmother's enthusiasm.

Monroe, 51, says she's seen Terry's healing powers herself.

"I've been on the road with him going on three years, I've seen peoples being healed, I've seen peoples being delivered, I've seen peoples come in their wheelchairs and walk," Monroe said. "I've seen peoples come in with their cane and put their cane down, I've seen people come in their crutches, lay the crutches down. I have seen so many miracles."