Give at least $100, revival leaders urge

Note: "Together in the Harvest Ministries" (Steve Hill) and "Partners in Revival" (John Kilpatrick) ministries are now both members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

'God knows how much you have' The Pensacola News Journal/November 16, 1997
By Amie K. Streater

Pensacola -- The Brownsville Revival is famous for fiery sermons by evangelist Steve Hill, who shouts to sinners to run to the altar, repent and beg for mercy.

But there is another message that's never videotaped, never photographed, never shown on television: Before you come down to the altar to be saved, reach into your wallet and give.

Specifically, give $100.

That message is delivered so skillfully that Brownsville Assembly of God, with about 3,500 permanent members, has an annual revenue far exceeding any of Pensacola's other large churches.

The church took in more than $6.5 million in 1996. Of that amount, $5.6 million, or 86 percent, came from the collection plate.

Among the givers are visiting pastors, who are urged to write big checks without waiting for permission from their church boards.

Husbands are told to give generously and to forget about consulting with their wives.

"You can get forgiveness a lot quicker than you can get permission," Associate Pastor Carey Robertson tells the audience.

Robertson has taken over the nightly collection speech while Pastor John Kilpatrick recovers from injuries he suffered in a fall.

"God knows how much you have," Robertson says to the whole crowd in the plea, which can stretch for more than 20 minutes.

Every man, woman and child is asked to think about how much they've spent on a television set, a car, a toy. They are reminded what a pair of Levis, a pair of Reeboks cost.

They are asked to think about what they pay when they go out to eat with the family, and then give at least as much for the work of God.

Every Friday night, the collection goes to Hill for his ministry. The church makes a point of this and notes that is the only night Hill takes anything.

On Fridays, Hill adds a passionate explanation to Robertson's remarks . In a speech that extends at times to a half-hour, Hill cajoles the audience with descriptions of desperate missions and orphanages he helps -- though he gives few documentable details -- and he lavishes contempt on selfishness and stinginess.

"I've never been ashamed to give," he tells the audience. "I love giving. I love to give to the Lord."

Some of the people crammed into the pews are struggling financially, but they reach for their wallets without hesitation.

A frail, aging widow who tries to get to the revival several times a week, scratches out a $50 check. Again. She sits primly, wearing the one good, navy-blue dress she owns, and says she is glad to give.

In another pew, an elderly woman gives the revival all the money she's set aside to pay for her prescription medication.

"God will provide," she says.

Some people see the offering as their chance to break away from sin: Heeding Hill's call to give up "articles of affection," they hand over the rings, bracelets, watches they received from their lovers in sinful or adulterous affairs.

Hill said his ministry has not received a lot of jewelry in the Friday night collections.

It ranges from a $2,500 diamond ring to a not-so-impressive thin gold bracelet.

He is willing to show the items to interviewers.

He said he has not decided what his ministry will do with them.

Brownsville church leaders would not allow the News Journal to see any jewelry the church has found in the revival collections that go to the church.

They would not give any details about it.

"We might have 10 pieces of jewelry," church treasurer R. L. Berry said. "Most of it is not worth a dime.

"You know, people get emotional," he said.

The church plans to sell any gold in the jewelry and put the proceeds into the building fund for the new family life center.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.