By Carol A. Davis
This is an example of an altar call at the Brownsville Revival services in Pensacola, FL. Every night, Charity would sing the same song for the altar call, “Mercy Seat.” It was a very emotionally moving song, dramatic kind of, & I think it influenced people emotionally. It created this sense of urgency, of danger or something. It didn’t matter how many times you’d said the “sinner’s prayer,” how long you’d been in church, if you were an “intercessor,” & did nothing but pray and read the Bible all day, you would feel this fear, that you weren’t right with God & in danger of hell. So you’d go down to the front. It was like pulling teeth, b/c you really didn’t feel like going through the emotionally draining experience, walking out in front of everyone, plus you’d done it every night that week.
The altar call was sort of ambiguous. The call to “accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior” was clearly spelled out, but the altar call was also open to anyone who needed to “get right with God,” “get back in fellowship,” who had “backslidden.” B/c it was so undefined, you had no concrete way to judge if you needed to go or not, so it was better to just go to err on the side of caution. The vast majority of the audience would end up going down, most people did every night. My friend, Laurie, who was the most religious person i knew, she said, “Even if i know I’m in fellowship and in right standing with the Lord, Steve Hill’s altar calls are so convicting that you will still feel like you have to go.” She would go even if she didn’t feel the need for that, b/c if you did, you could stand in the prayer line, & that meant when you got to the front of the line, one of the ministers would touch your forehead so you could fall out (at this place, they were NOT pushing you down, the force was so strong, sometimes it would hit you before their hand could get to your forehead).
most people LOVED to go to the services. People came from all over the world, literally. my friend Linda loved it & always wanted to stay in pensacola another day. The thing I was too afraid to admit to myself was that deep down, I hated it. I didn’t like the feeling I felt in the air, it felt like fear to me. Like the whole thing was fear-driven. Christina mentioned before in a post or comment about how when she got the “Holy Spirit” it felt kind of “creepy,” but she tried to make herself not feel that way, & looking back, that’s exactly how I felt there. I secretly dreaded it, but felt guilty about dreading it. And I always had these big expectations that THIS time, the “touch” would “take,” and I’d actually start “walking in victory” in my life, but it never happened. But I blamed myself, not the presence there, so I just felt worse and worse over the years.
This is another example of what I’ve been mentioning about the altar calls in some types of Charismatic services. They use fear, make you feel like if you don’t go down, you’re denying Christ or something.
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In ’97 the Brownsville Revival came to the Civic Center in Birmingham, Alabama. After the service, the “ministering” would start, meaning everybody got in the prayer lines so they could get hands laid on them and fall out. That was the whole point of GOING. Of course, the line of people wanting to get prayed over by Steve Hill, the evangelist, was the longest. His line was specifically for people who needed healing. Well, it was more like a mob than a line. You just had to kind of press through and hope you got to him. It was like, his prayer or “impartation” would work better than that of the other ministers b/c he was so “anointed.” If he prayed for you, you had to get healed, right?
When I managed to get up to him, he asked me what I needed healing for. I told him I had severe depression and suicidal thoughts a lot. This was before I’d been diagnosed as bipolar. I thought he’d say something like, “In the name of Jesus be healed,” but instead he said something to the effect that my problems weren’t that bad, repeated the story he’d said a million times in his messages about how his mom had been raped, and he was a product of that, but that she never felt sorry for herself, etc., etc. He basically just acted like I was being a crybaby for no reason, & told me I didn’t have any real problems, despite not knowing me, or knowing anything about the organic state of my brain. The way he came at me with it, I just felt he was being kind of condescending, like sort of scolding me, like you would a spoiled brat who complains about something minor. He didn’t even say be healed, when he was done talking, he just put his hand on my head so i could fall out and moved on.
I kind of resented it. I felt judged and embarrassed. If I had needed healing for something like diabetes, an organic disorder, he’d have said “be healed,” but despite the fact that bipolarity is ALSO an organic disorder similar to epilepsy, this man who knew nothing about me just sized me up within the first 10 seconds of meeting me and just told me my problem didn’t exist, like i had a character weakness. Looking back, I’m like, “For all he knew, I could have just gotten out of the hospital from being gang-raped and beaten half-to-death. Just what was he picturing, not knowing me from Adam’s housecat?”
yeah…. he is an a**hole. Glad to be out of that cult.