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Durban - The auditorium at Bethsaida Ministries in Phoenix was packed. Ten thousand people quickly filled the rows of chairs that arched around the podium. Not bad for a Tuesday night – but, then again, this was no ordinary midweek church service.
Televangelist Benny Hinn – whose revival meetings and faith-healing summits, known as “Miracle Crusades”, are popular worldwide – was in town, and he was speaking at this venue.
People had come seeking a touch from the Lord.
Led by the charismatic choir, the crowds began to sing in unison to usher in the presence of God and set the scene for what was to happen next.
Enter the enigmatic Hinn, and the vociferous multitudes clapped their hands and shouted praises to Jesus.
They had come for a miracle. And Hinn, it seemed, was about to deliver just that.
With the heads of the congregants bowed and their hands raised in worship, Hinn began to pray. Very soon there were testimonies of the sick being healed, including a blind woman being able to see.
But the highlight of the night, it can be argued, was seeing the mighty literally fall.
With Hinn in command, telling sinners they needed to repent, business tycoon Vivian Reddy and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, invited guests who until then had been sitting inconspicuously among several men of the cloth on the podium, suddenly came under a very different spotlight.
After a heartfelt rendition of Horatio Spafford’s hymn It Is Well With My Soul, Hinn called Reddy to the altar and raised his hands towards him before the expectant crowds.
As soon as Hinn uttered the words “receive the spirit”, Reddy the billionaire, slain by the Holy Spirit, hit the ground.
He lay there for about three minutes before an usher came to help him up.
Next up was the IFP’s octogenarian leader, Buthelezi, whom Hinn referred to as an old friend. Buthelezi, too, overcome by the power of God, was knocked down, but in true fashion, he was soon back on his feet and worshipping God.
“It’s quite heartening to see these high-profile men submit to God,” a congregation member said.