Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: End (02/13/06)
TITLE: All This Born Again Talk
By Charles Duncan
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Those vivid memories of peeking through the open church window, returned years later as I watched shotgun toting parishioners of a much different church guard their compound keeping the curious out and the residents in. The dirty streets and yards led to houses that were nothing but broken down shacks struggling to maintain precarious positions on the rocky hills outside a town called Bangs in west Texas. It was home to a few hundred devoted followers of David Terrell, home to the poor, practically homeless Terrellites. That’s the name the folks in Bangs and the news media gave to the followers of the fiery tent revivalist preacher, Brother David Terrell as he insisted on being called.
The thin, lanky preacher set up revival tents in small west Texas towns attracting the curious and most of his followers. Each weekend the screams from cult members who roll in the aisles could be heard blocks away. Terrell appeared to heal pains and remove afflictions as the Terrellites and some of the visitors jumped onto the stage and received a heavy slap on the head and a loud “heal” from the preacher. Terrell spoke in tongues and later screamed to his audience to be born again.
In stark contrast, I began hearing Dr. Billy Graham preach about being born again. His strong convictions came through clearly. And I listened.
Later, I researched and produced an in depth television series on Lester Roloff, the radio revivalist from Corpus Christi, Texas. Juvenile court judges throughout the nation sent hundreds of youngsters facing serious run-ins with the law to the Roloff homes for rehab. The teenagers fished and worked huge gardens providing most of the food for several hundred residents and staff. Roloff added big helpings of born again preaching twice daily, seven days a week. He often reminded his congregations that by the time the teens were ready to leave his homes, most of them had been born again.
My early memories left me confused rather than doubting or judgmental. But that confusion is now erased as I see a new life, a life that God wants us to have. A life that begins where your past ends. It’s written in John 3:3 (NIV), the very words spoken more than two thousand years ago: In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
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