At one point, Patricia, 20-years-old, got up and made her way down the stairs, clutching her cruthes. I caught a glimpse of her as she got right up next to the stage …but this was just as Benny Hinn stopped taking people up on the stage. Oooohhh.... I was so disappointed for her.
And suspicious of Benny. He hadn't had anyone up there with an obvious defect, as Patricia had. But then he began prayer for young people, and the throng pushed in. Hinn shouted, "FIRE ON YOU!" and hundreds of kids standing closest to the stage FLEW backwards. Just picking themselves up, he did it again. The kids got up again and pressed to the stage. I was hoping Patricia was okay in the crush, but I could see her head bobbing, hands raised, right next to a gray coat and tie. Big usher. BIG. I was sure he'd keep her safe. Benny started grabbing kids and pulling them up on stage, "FIRE ON YOU!" and they flew across the stage. He began stepping over bodies and grabbing the raised hands of three or four more kids a time, pulling them up on stage. "FIRE ON YOU!" and they all fell down at the same time. The throng on the floor pressed closer, screaming to be touched. I'm sure they saw this and just wanted to feel whatever it was the kids on stage had felt. "FIRE ON YOU!" and six more went flying.
Then he began the cool off. "I'm only one man, and I can't touch everyone. But I have the anointing because I've met the anointer. And you can go home and meet the anointed and get the anointing for yourself. You need daily prayer, and read your bible, and get connected with a fellowship in your town. There are several Las Vegas Pastors up here that love you and welcome you to their churches. There are Bothers and sisters in Christ surrounding you right you right now. This is not a one-time event. This is a daily, on-going process." Then he invited a local pastor to further the invitation and close in prayer, and he left the stage.
I wasn't impressed by this guy, so I was glad to hear him give that closing message. It helped a little, I think.
As people cleared out of the auditorium, we went to the floor where Patricia was still sitting next to the stage. She said she wasn't disappointed. She said it as awesome to be in the full line of fire, there by the stage. But she had already put her brace back on - after having removed it in anticipation - and if she wasn't disappointed, I was sure disappointed for her. Yes, I know this is an ongoing process. And she also said that, yes, he did shake her hand just before he left the stage. She added that there were so many desperate people there...she couldn't expect to get his attention. If she was faking contentment, she was doing a pretty good job.
That, dear Readers, is faith. It really has nothing to do with Benny Hinn. This little girl trusts God, and whatever He has for her, it's okay.
When we left at the airport, we picked up the Las Vegas paper and read their spin on the crusade. In it, the reporter had followed a young Las Vegas family that was praying for healing. The couple, 20 years old, had been in an auto accident the last October. The husband was in a vegetative state. They have a one-year-old daughter. This woman paid an ambulance to bring her husband to the crusade. The reporter followed them through it, and in the end, they left the crusade disappointed. I'm not sorry we didn't push to be in front. As Patricia said, there were so many, many needy people there.
I am impressed by Patricia's faith. When it comes to Hinn, I remain cynical. My eyes weren't just on Hinn or the crowds during the event. I was seeing other things as well. When we filed in the first day, the line of people was directed where to sit and told to fill every seat. Unless you were saving a seat for someone, there was to be no empty seats. We were filed in evenly filling seats from the lower section, and then on to the section above it, and on to the top. After the arena had stopped filling, I noticed that black curtains were being hung in front of the empty seats at the top. This way, when the cameras panned the crowd, the arena had the appearance of being full. Benny, why the need to deceive the television viewers?
I was also thinking about how the lower seats must be populated primarily with A - type personalities. People that got there early and had the gusto to get those seats. They had cellular phones (at a time when not everyone did) and kept in touch with the people they were saving seats for. "You're just getting off work now? Okay, we have a seat for you." "You're in the parking lot? Okay, come through the main entrance and were in section 118". Gusto people, filled with energy, like Patricia. The nosebleed seats were different.
Interestingly, I almost had my coat stolen. I had gone for a pop and Roland was "dozing" like he does. A woman sat on the other side of my coat, and, Roland said (he wasn't as asleep as she thought) that she put her coat on the far side. (NOT on the seat with my coat.) But when she got up, she moved her coat over mine and wrapped my coat under hers. Roland quickly called her on it. You can't con a con man. She initially denied it, and then said, "oh, I'm sorry", handed it back and scurried away. Mind you, this is NOT a special coat. This is a rummage sale special, and there was nothing in the pockets. But she wouldn't have known that. Anyway, it gave me another person to pray for that evening. This woman must have had some real problems to be stealing my ol' coat. She was in real need of healing. I hope she got it.
Some might say that Patricia was just naive and hopeful. After all, with a birth defect such as hers, there is no other hope for healing outside of a miracle from God. Well, I imagine that she is naive and hopeful. But she's not stupid. She does also have fatih in God. And it is God who holds her faith, not in Benny Hinn, because if it were Hinn, she'd have given up in disappointment a long time ago.
More to Come...