I needn’t have worried about queuing up outside in the rain (The weather has been awful lately.) The Excel centre is all indoors with shops, toilets, cash machines- everything you could possibly need. Except useful security guards.
I approached one and said that I wasn’t sure where or when I needed to queue up for the next meeting (the guy on the phone had suggested turning up four hours early , Harry Potter release date style.) I have absolutely no idea what he said in reply and I wonder if he even did. When his back was turned I tried an English looking one. I found that even the English security guards didn’t speak English so I just smiled and nodded and walked into the arena anyway.
I got in just as the first meeting was finishing. I guess the power didn’t make it to my rather insignificant seat, situated in the middle of a back row of a large block of seats, which in turn was somewhere near centre front of the vast hanger like building. I didn’t feel faint or ecstatic, but I was smiling and staring in wide eyed wonder at what was going on around me.
Unearthly screams, a guy on the platform in convulsions, someone making noises like a whirling dervish. Benny was shouting his catchphrases ‘receive the power of the Holy Ghost!’ and ‘the glory is on this man!’ He would point at someone and they would collapse into someone’s arms and at one point he swept his arm across the front of the choir and they all fell down, Mexican wave style. Awesome! Bring it on! It is so cool to think that Jesus was there, wandering around in beautiful clothes and a gorgeous crown.
I had to wait five hours for the next meeting but it was great to be in that atmosphere. What I loved about it was that people didn’t wait until the start of the meeting to engage with God. Everywhere I looked people were praying, reading books or reading the bible. They even started worshipping during the band practise.
I spent the afternoon praying, eating, reading and thinking. I remembered how cross I had been when trying to sign up via the website because I thought that the only way I could get in was to volunteer to be an usher, a bookseller or a choir member. Looking back it was silly really. I mean, the whole entire audience couldn’t all be ushers or booksellers or choir members could they?
After five hours of waiting the evening session finally got underway. A Benny Hinn crusade is a bit like a musical-the speaking is interspersed with singing. Benny would be saying something and then suddenly burst into song as if to illustrate a point.
I had to leave before anything really amazing happened. There weren't any earhtquakes or angels or lightning bolts. Skeptical I am not, but I couldn’t help hoping that the healings were not fakes, given all the controversy surrounding him. I am sure that a certain percentage of ’clientele’ just want the attention and so pretend to be healed. But one thing I do know, although I never seem to feel this power in big meetings, I do when I am alone. I have been healed by prayer; I have felt the electricity, the weakness. Whatever accusations people may lay against this sort of thing, I know that this power is real. I just wish I had signed up for the choir after all now. Especially the front row.
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I am not a fan of Benny Hinn because his message and what he has shared over the past ten years has just watered down the gospel. Please read my poem,' I cannot attend his crusade'. I understand the purpose for TBN but the message has changed over the years. Thanks for writing this . We really need more of it. Amen.