A Voice in the
This transcript of 20/20's coverage of the Pensacola, Brownsville
Revival was received from a mailing list and is offered here for your
understanding. This is the "world" (in the form of national media)
taking a look at what many claiming to be "Christian" are promoting as
a "great move of God." VW has spoken of these things in many writings,
so no commentaries will be offered here.
------- Brownsville Revival featured on 20/20 Thursday! ----------
If you haven't heard about it yet, the Brownsville Assembly of God (aka
Brownsville Revival) in Pensacola, Florida, was featured in a report on
ABC's 20/20 news magazine on October 9, 1997.
To hear what 20/20 had to say about it and more follow this link!
(we know the link is long, it will take you to ABC's web site)
Picture: ABC News logo Picture: ABCNEWS.com. Now Always On.
Countdown to Salvation
Thousands Flock to Controversial Florida Revival
Oct. 9, 1997
Now, a glimpse into a world many of us don't know even exists. In
Pensacola, Florida, a religious spectacle is under way. Night after
night, people from all over the world come by the thousands hoping for
a divine encounter. Revivals usually last only a few days, but this
one has been going on for more than two years. What are people looking
for inside? Lynn Sherr reports, nothing less than God himself.
LYNN SHERR, ABC NEWS
(VO) Hollywood couldn't have created better special effects.
(singing) Hallelujah. Lord, we love you.
(VO) Signs from above, beckoning thousands, all hungry for divine
(singing) Lord, we praise you. Lord, we praise you.
(VO) They've traveled the globe to reach this unlikely mecca, an
inner - city church called the Brownsville Assembly of God in
Pensacola, Florida. What's gotten into them? Why, when many
American churches are struggling with empty pews, are these
worshippers camping out before daylight to live in line up to 18
hours for a good seat?
BOY IN LINE
I'm here because I know God is here.
WOMAN IN LINE
The power of God is so real on me that my human body cannot handle
(VO) The message they have heard is relayed up and down the line --
God is in the house.
MAN WITH MEGAPHONE
Single - file line. Single - file line.
(VO) The wait is finally over. It is showtime. (Gospel music plays)
Inside, the energy is infectious. Gospel rhythms underscore a torrent
of enthusiastic praise. (Gospel music plays) This, it would be fair to
say, is a party for Jesus. When the music fades, the message turns
STEVE HILL, EVANGELIST
We cast out devils. We heal the sick. And we pray, and we pray, and
we pray. Are we tired? We're exhausted. But then we pray, and we
pray, and we pray ...
(VO) The man leading these prayer warriors is evangelist Steve Hill,
a repentant sinner with a passion for redemption.
You need Jesus! You need Jesus! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!
(VO) Hill is part showman, part salesman.
He didn't say that, friend! He said, "Behold the lamb of God that
takes away the sin of the world!"
(VO) Sometime around 7:00 pm, he takes center stage with Pastor John
Kilpatrick to lead a five - hour worship marathon.
They all believe that God can touch them, and they all believe that
in this place miracles are taking place.
(VO) Clearly, this is not church as usual. The worshippers packing
this sanctuary four nights a week, mostly Pentecostals, say they've
been left empty by dry, stale religion. Many claiming that here, God
touches them for the first time. It is called a revival -- literally
a breath of new life into a withering faith.
(Gospel music plays)
God's presence, they say, has ignited this spiritual revival.
He's delivered me from so much, friends. Friend, when Jesus Christ
came into my life, what a change. Man! Wow! I want you to
experience that. I want you to experience victorious living, the
promises of God, your past forgiven and forgotten. Freedom from
(VO) In this emotional cauldron, the faithful believe broken lives
This revival, it's about changed lives. It's about people that were
hurting, people that were dying, people that were just like, like
groping through the desert sands hoping for a drink of water from
somebody, and they're revived.
(VO) Revivals are an American tradition, dating back to itinerant
preachers who converted the masses, claiming the power of Jesus. In
a modern throwback to that old - time religion, worshippers at the
Brownsville revival also strive to cleanse their souls with full -
Brownsville is the country's longest - running revival in nearly a
century, more than two years old. And members here are convinced
they're headed toward something even grander. That's called a great
awakening, a period when spiritual fervor sweeps across the land.
They believe there have been only four in the world.
CHRISTIANA BONDE (PH), REVIVAL ATTENDEE
My name is Christiana Bonde from Freetown, Sierra Leone.
REV JOHN KILPATRICK, BROWNSVILLE ASSEMBLY OF GOD
REVIVAL ATTENDEE FROM PARIS
From France, Paris.
REVIVAL ATTENDEE FROM MELBOURNE
From Melbourne, Australia.
Melbourne, Australia. How many of you in the line tonight are from
Germany? Let me see your hands. Wow!
REVIVAL ATTENDEE FROM ARGENTINA
REVIVAL ATTENDEE FROM THE UKRAINE
I am from Ukraine.
Israel. All right.
(VO) This revival's power reaches far beyond Florida. The church is
proud of its converts and pays special homage to those who've
traveled the longest distance.
Would you give a warm welcome to Steve Hill.
(VO) According to those who were there, this revival began on
Father's Day, 1995. Steve Hill was a visiting evangelist passing
through town. Pastor John Kilpatrick invited him to his pulpit for
the morning service.
On Father's Day, the power of God fell. And it was awesome. We had
been praying for two and a half years. And ...
(on camera) Praying for what?
Praying for revival.
(VO) Hill says he felt a heightened intensity as worshippers
clamored for prayer. Pastor Kilpatrick yelled to the congregation
that the moment they prayed for had at last arrived. Moments later,
the pastor fell to the floor, unable to rise for hours --
overwhelmed, he says, by the power of God. It's a story he likes to
It wasn't scary, nothing phobic. It didn't hurt. It was the most
wonderful feeling that I've ever felt in my whole life.
(VO) Today, the momentum shows no signs of easing. And Hill, the
one - time traveling preacher, has stayed, making Brownsville home
base to shepherd what he calls a movement of God.
Well, the power of God was delivering drug addicts from drug
addiction. Alcoholics were -- were giving up alcoholism. And it was
miracle after miracle, one after another, people being set free from
bondages. We started seeing this, and we realized that this is
I mean, the scum of the earth began to show up, because they had
heard God was coming down in power, and they needed God's power to
(VO) Here's what that power can look like. According to Hill and
Kilpatrick, some worshippers are so filled with the Spirit, they jerk
and shake uncontrollably.
If you need forgiveness, if you're away from God, I want you to come
right now. You need the Lord. Hurry, hurry!
(VO) The service shifts into high gear after the sermon, when
evangelist Hill delivers his urgent call to the altar. It sends
sinners running, a countdown to salvation.
Come on, get on your knees. Say, "Jesus, forgive me, wash me,
cleanse me, make me new." Jesus, now, now, now, fire, fire, fire,
fire. Now, now, Jesus, fire, fire ...
(VO) And then, the moment many long for -- a prayer and a light
touch that can drop some of them to the floor, able to hear, but
often unable to move. It is called being "slain in the spirit." In
effect, a wake - up call from the Holy Spirit.
(on camera) So when you're down there in front, talking to people
and putting your hand on them, you are being a conduit for the power
Well, I believe that a lot of things are happening. I ...
But get specific with me. You're -- you're standing there. I've
seen you do this. You walk up to someone, and you say, "Down." What
are you saying?
I am saying more of Jesus, a fresh touch from Jesus, and the power of
God comes over these folks, and they fall to the ground. We don't
feel like we're anybody special, but God is moving through us, and he
has always used people.
(VO) To many, Hill may seem a surprising conduit for the word of
God. A recovering alcoholic and heroin addict, he also admits to
having a long criminal record.
I was arrested for -- for drug sales, car theft about 13 times. And
breaking and entering and -- and you know, I had to have money to get
(VO) The change came at 21, he says, when his mother invited a
Lutheran minister home to pray for him.
I didn't believe in God, but he said, "Say the name Jesus." So out
of desperation I looked up at the ceiling of the room, and I said,
"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." I just began to say that name. And a power
came through my body, and in a matter of seconds, it was like I was
I'm not using the needle anymore. I'm not drinking whiskey anymore.
I'm not depending on a six pack of beer anymore. I'm not smoking pot
anymore. I don't need pornography anymore. He's changed my life.
(VO) And the revival, Hill says, has "saved" or transformed more
than 100,000 lives.
JOHN HALL (PH), FORMER SKINHEAD
I used to be a skinhead. I used to hate anybody that wasn't white.
God saved me, set me free.
(VO) John Hall, a former skinhead, is one of a group of revival
members who say they are now "on fire for Jesus." After a moment of
prayer, they eagerly shared their stories of spiritual
I wanted to kill my parents.
(on camera) You literally wanted to kill your parents?
Yes, ma'am. I wanted to kill my parents. I sat down, and I wrote
out the perfect plan to kill both of my parents.
(VO) John found redemption at the revival. He's become a ministry
student, and like so many other converts, readily told his story when
he was baptized.
But that same woman that I wanted to kill spent every night of her
life on her knees praying for me.
(VO) There are also claims of physical healings. Despite a constant
shaking that persisted throughout our interview, school teacher
Valerie Brun says God healed her.
Tell them what God did to your neck.
VALERIE BRUN, TEACHER
He healed me of a neck and back injury from a car accident.
(VO) The head - shaking began immediately afterwards. She says it
happens whenever she's in the presence of God. She calls it a
This manifestation that I have now in my neck, that was a way for him
to tell me that my neck is healed. There is no way that my neck
could have ever withstood this ever, I mean, before.
(on camera) Has it been diagnosed what you're doing now?
You mean have I been to a doctor?
Uh - huh.
No. I haven't been to a doctor.
How long does the shaking tend to last?
It depends. It depends on what I'm doing. When I get in God's
presence, that's when it starts. So when I pray, I read my Bible, I
come to church, that's when I'm shaking.
(VO) Pastor Kilpatrick says he is not the least bit ashamed to have
Valerie sing in his choir. But he told us that some others of his
flock are fakers. They just pretend to be set in motion by spiritual
forces. But both leaders adamantly denied criticism from some
religious leaders that their church is like a cult, that they
manipulate worshippers to elicit what has been called mindless
I would -- I would encourage anyone who would say anything like that
to come meet these mindless people. Meet Patrick Waters (ph), who's
been delivered from drug addiction. Meet the person that wanted to
commit suicide but now wants to live on. That's not mindless praise.
That's worship. They're -- they're so thankful.
(VO) But neither man offers any apology for the next step in the
process. The step that makes many outsiders so wary and
uncomfortable -- spreading the word.
If Jesus Christ has changed my life, woe unto me if I don't talk
(VO) Everyone healed is taught it is his or her duty to share the
experience. That's called witnessing, or evangelizing.
We're not supposed to push things down people's throats by any means.
But I think that when they see something is real, it makes them
(on camera) You say it's not a religious thing. But the truth is it
is about Jesus Christ?
And there are people who believe in other religions, as you well know
... who don't believe in -- in Jesus Christ as the Lord?
So it is a religious thing. If one doesn't believe in Jesus, if one
doesn't accept this, what does that make that person in this world?
Lost. They're lost.
Even if they don't feel lost?
Even if they don't feel lost.
You want to know why people hate revival? It's in your face. It'll
mess with your comfort zone, friend. You'll hear things you need to
hear, like get the sin out.
(VO) The question is, what happens when that process seeps out of
the church and into places where it's not always welcome or legal?
It is exactly that in - your - face approach that's put some revival
members on a collision course with the law.
Well, when we come back, Lynn Sherr continues with the Pensacola
revival, and a school vice principal with very strong religious
beliefs who leads some students there. Does he have a right to do
that, and what do their parents think?
Now a 20/20 doubletake. The great egg debate -- brown eggs versus
white. Which one is better for you? In a moment, we'll settle the
People shell out more for brown eggs than white eggs. But is it
worth it? According to the US Department of Agriculture, the
nutritional value of brown eggs is exactly the same as white eggs.
The color of the shell is nature's brilliant stroke to camouflage the
egg against its natural predators. 20/20 continues after this from
our ABC stations.
From ABC News, 20/20 continues. Once again, Hugh Downs.
As we've seen, the religious revival in Pensacola, Florida, has made
believers out of thousands of people. And they are then expected to
spread the word to others.
But how would you feel if the believer was a teacher or a school
administrator? Do they have a right in that capacity to try to
influence their students, possibly changing their religious beliefs
forever? Lynn Sherr picks up her story with a school vice principal
who did just that.
Come on, sing with me.
(on camera) While the revival here in Pensacola is stirring up
souls, the message being carried by one of its most fervent believers
is stirring a very different set of emotions in a nearby community.
An ugly controversy has arisen in the town ironically named
IRMA TEMPLE (PH), PARENT
And the Holy Spirit doesn't cause disorder or dissension in a family,
and it was causing that in our family, and it was -- it was painful.
(VO) Irma and Bud Temple, like all the folks we spoke with in
Niceville, Florida, call themselves faithful families. But they also
believe that religion belongs at home and in church, not in the
public high school, which is where they say their children learned of
the Brownsville revival.
Worse yet, they charge, the message was preached by the school's own
vice principal, Dr Chip Woolwine (ph). The Temples, who asked us to
keep their religious denomination private -- but are not Pentecostals
-- say they became concerned when their 16 - year - old daughter
began to embrace the practices emanating from the revival.
(on camera) When did things really start getting bad with your
BUD TEMPLE, PARENT
When my daughter picked me up at the airport one day. She was
driving. I got in the car, and she was driving down the road, and
she was shaking, jittering, bouncing, whatever term you want to use,
she was not -- you know, as if she was afflicted with some sort of
And I finally said, "What is wrong with you? What is -- what are you
doing? What's the matter?" And she said, "Oh, I'm just filled with
the Holy Spirit." And it hit me like a ton of bricks, and I almost
fell out of the car.
(VO) The Temples claim she only started her shaking after attending
one of the revival services with Vice Principal Woolwine. A devout
Christian, he readily admits the revival changed his own life and
that, at times, he escorted up to 50 students to the church.
DR CHIP WOOLWINE, VICE PRINCIPAL, NICEVILLE HIGH SCHOOL
Was I excited about the fact that I knew if some kids could get there
that they could get squared away with the Lord and get off drugs and
alcohol and stuff like that? Sure.
(VO) Dr Woolwine has been called the pied piper of Brownsville, a
nickname not meant to be flattering to a man generally well -
respected by both parents and students. And that, say parents, is
part of the problem.
And a lot of those youth are young youth and they're vulnerable, and
they're -- they're easily influenced, and they look at an
administrator and a teacher, and they look up to them.
(VO) Dr Woolwine insists the religious conversations were largely
initiated by students. But some parents argue that preaching
religious beliefs is their responsibility and inappropriate behavior
for a public school administrator.
(on camera) Did you ever say to one of the kids that if -- if he or
she weren't saved, he or she would go to hell?
DR CHIP WOOLWINE
Well that -- that, again, you're talking about thousands of -- of
conversations. But I don't -- I don't -- I do not have any
recollection ever of looking at kid and saying, "If you don't believe
like I do, you're going to hell."
Would you ever say that to a kid?
DR CHIP WOOLWINE
Uh - uh. But if a kid were to just come to me and say, "If I don't
have Jesus in my heart for my savior, then am I going to hell," if he
would just corner me like that, then, yeah. You'd have to say,
"Yeah," you know?
And you think that was, it's perfectly appropriate for you to have
been -- if you ever said something like that, to do that within the -
- the context of your being vice principal and this being a school?
DR CHIP WOOLWINE
Uh - huh. I have no problem with that at all.
Right now we're in a major, exciting situation at Niceville High
School. Some of you know about it. We got an assistant principal
over there, and some other ...
(VO) Revival leaders have rallied behind Dr Woolwine. They see his
cause as an opportunity to advance national support for school
What I'm telling you is there's a nation out there lying dormant.
And they're waiting for somebody, some voice, some church, some --
some governmental on - fire leader to rise up and go, "Wait just a
cotton - pickin' minute! Don't you tell me we can't pray in our
(VO) Dr Woolwine's religious activities prompted a school board
investigation. He was accused of holding Bible counseling sessions
in his office and baptizing students at a local bayou. His
supporters in this Bible Belt community were outraged by the charges
and so vehement about it, most of his accusers say they were afraid
to speak out.
Still, in June at an emotional school board meeting, Dr Woolwine was
found guilty of violating a policy requiring religious neutrality.
DON GAETZ (PH), SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER
If the laws are wrong, then I invite people to seek out legislative
remedies and change the law.
(VO) But while the school board ruling was based on the separation
of church and state, Woolwine supporters say the case is a First
Amendment issue. They believe students have the right to seek and
receive religious counseling at any school.
SCHOOL BOARD CHAIRMAN
... be transferred to a position at ...
(VO) Chip Woolwine was removed from his job as vice principal and
shifted into a position where he'll no longer come into contact with
SCHOOL BOARD CHAIRMAN
And I'm going to continue to do what's right for the boys and girls.
(VO) Bud Temple and the other parents who spoke out are afraid of
repercussions, worried that this issue will not quietly disappear.
(on camera) What goes through your head when you think about what
might happen? What are you worried about? Something somebody might
say? Something somebody might do?
Well, I'm more concerned about what somebody might do. I'm concerned
about the activities of the zealous people, the very, very fanatical
people, and you can't predict what a fanatic's going to do.
Excuse me, excuse me.
(VO) School board member Don Gaetz says he's received several death
threats since launching the investigation. But he claims he has no
regrets concerning the board's verdict.
(on camera) What do you think it means that you've, that the board
has disciplined Dr Woolwine?
What we're trying to say is that nobody uses our public schools as
the staging area for an attack on anybody's religious faith or as a
recruiting station to try to get kids to give up the faiths they're
taught in their own homes and follow some pied piper, however well -
intentioned he might think he is.
DR CHIP WOOLWINE
Do I feel like I've done anything wrong? Absolutely not. Do I feel
like I'm guilty of -- of violating school board policy? Absolutely
(on camera) If you had things to do over again at Niceville High
School, starting with the day you went to the Brownsville revival,
what, if anything, would you do differently?
DR CHIP WOOLWINE
Nothing. I wouldn't do anything differently. To save my job, to
save my career, which one of the students would I send back to -- to
the awful life that they were experiencing, and my answer is, I
wouldn't send any of them back to save my job or my career.
RED - HAIRED GIRL
I started skipping school and running away, and I was in juvenile
detention center, and everything like that. Because I was skipping
school, I ended up in the vice principal's office. God bless you, Dr
(VO) Despite the ruling, Dr Woolwine shows no sign of walking away
from his students. He says he's proud of helping set lost students
straight, and he recently attended a former student's baptism at the
revival, a student he admits helping to find Jesus.
RED - HAIRED GIRL
And -- and he invited me to Bible study, and he shared the word with
me, and who cares if that's illegal? And ...
What's happened with Dr Woolwine is so needed right now in America.
If a teenager needs prayer, you know, and they're going through a
hard time with -- with a -- their boyfriend or girlfriend. Don't
slip them a condom. Talk to them about getting their life together.
(VO) Evangelist Hill and Pastor Kilpatrick, and even Dr Woolwine,
admit they are of short on statistics, that they don't know how long
the conversions will last. But that hasn't lessened their zeal.
There is an awakening coming to America that is going to shake this
nation. It's going to sweep from coast to coast, from north to south
(VO) The revival is now turning into a crusade with the evangelist
and the pastor taking their message on the road to pave the way for
the next step, the nationwide awakening they hope will follow. It's
their way of using the revival fire from Pensacola to spread a wave
of religious passion.
God is going to move throughout this land. It's going to hit the
Baptists, the Methodists. It's going to hit the Episcopalians, the
Lutherans, the Pentecostals. There is an awakening coming.
(VO) But for all his faith and hope, the evangelist who was here
when it all began says he still takes nothing for granted.
I crawl in here every night, spiritually speaking, I'm humbled, and I
say, "God, would it be possible for you to do it one more night?
Would it be possible for something to happen one more night?"
I understand Dr Woolwine is appealing to the Florida State School
Board to get his job back.
And guess who is representing him? It is a legal organization headed
by Pat Robertson.