PUBLISHED SUNDAY NOVEMBER 16, 1997
Copyright 1997 The Pensacola News Journal. All
Give at least
$100, revival leaders urge
'God knows how
much you have'
By Amie K.
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
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
The church took in more than
$6.5 million in 1996. Of that amount, $5.6
million, or 86 percent, came from the collection
Among the givers are visiting
pastors, who are urged to write big checks
without waiting for permission from their church
Husbands are told to give
generously and to forget about consulting with
"You can get forgiveness a
lot quicker than you can get permission,"
Associate Pastor Carey Robertson tells the
Robertson has taken over the
nightly collection speech while Pastor John
Kilpatrick recovers from injuries he suffered in
"God knows how much you
have," Robertson says to the whole crowd in
the plea, which can stretch for more than 20
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
"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,"
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
It ranges from a $2,500 diamond
ring to a not-so-impressive thin gold bracelet.
He is willing to show the items
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
"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.
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