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New York Daily Photo: Street Revival
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Monday, 31 March 2008

Street Revival

I've never seen anything like this on the streets of New York. I was taking a leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll along East 7th Street heading towards Tompkins Square Park when I noticed a line of people on the sidewalk. The block is quiet and this is a rather unusual time for a long line - I see no retailers that may be running a promo with a celebrity tie-in. So I ask and am told that there is a minister who will be coming out of an overcrowded church basement to administer healings and blessings on the streets. People are being moved forward to the edge of the sidewalk, facing the street and leaving space behind them (I incorrectly assumed to allow room for pedestrian traffic). So we all stood and waited in front of City Light Church (beneath St. Mary's Orthodox Church at 121 East 7th Street).
Out comes our greatly anticipated minister and we can see this is no ordinary minister - he is heavily tattooed and adorned with jewelry, earrings and piercings. He's having individual conversations, holding heads in his hands, pushing or blowing lightly and down they go, being supported and guided to the sidewalk by assistants behind them.
Some were trembling before he came to them, many remained lying down on the sidewalk as he moved to the next in line. One woman (see here) was crouched down for several minutes - I got down next to her and noted that she truly looked ill and was unable to get hold of herself.
This is Todd Bentley, a 32 year old man who heard the voice of God in his former drug dealer's trailer and was saved from a life of drug abuse (he overdosed three times) and prison. A new revivalist with edge. He is based in British Columbia, Canada where he heads Freshfire Ministries. Judging from his website he is a busy man - constantly touring. He has crusaded in over 55 countries and heads an orphanage in Uganda.
There are many new ministries, addressing various groups and demographics. The Christian theology is being repackaged and delivered via contemporary vehicles, themes and messengers. Joel Osteen is another example, playing to a large arena in Texas.
I make no judgements on the goings on in this event except to say something was definitely happening to these people. Of course, I'm a little naive - revivalist meetings have been going on for some time but a direct experience is new to me. I was invited to step into the end of the line - I only regret I didn't to see for myself ...


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