29. HALLELUJAH, MIAMI!
September 6, 1980 – During the summer of 1980, while I was gone, riots broke out in Liberty City an area of Miami, Florida, where many people were killed. Basically it is a black area. I felt that we should go into that area to share the message of Jesus.
There were about 1,000 people that walked with us: blacks, Spanish-speaking, and white. Big Rosy Grier, who was the bodyguard for Bobby Kennedy when he was shot, and who caught Sirhan Sirhan, went with us. He is one of the most beautiful people I have ever known. Many people thought we were going to create a riot and that all kinds of trouble would break out.
We started at the Bayfront Park in the center of Miami to carry the cross right into the middle of Liberty City. The police were apprehensive. I walked with the cross, allowing Rosy to carry it also, and we had absolutely no problem. The people were beautiful to us. The welcome was great and the people with us shared Christ in great joy. We had a big rally in the main part of the area where the buildings had been burned down.
The next day, Sunday, September 7, 1980, the front page of the Miami Herald ran a photo of the scene that had taken place the day before. There were hands clutching money and outreached hands reaching toward the money.
This is what had happened: As I was preaching to the big crowd and sharing the message of Christ, I gave the invitation for people to receive Jesus, with many people coming forward. The Lord moved on me and I said, “Many people here are poor and need help. They have lost their possessions, their businesses, and their homes have been burned. Some of us may have more money than we need and many of you living here may have more than you need. We are going to receive an offering.”‘
When I said that, every cameraman from the media started stirring, wondering, “What’s the catch, they’ve got to want something.”
I said, “We are going to receive the offering in this manner. I picked out a lady in the crowd and said to her, “Lady, do I know you?”
She replied, “No, we have never me.”
At that point I asked her and several other people to stand in front of the crowd to my left. I said, “These are the ones that are going to collect the money and give it out. What we want you to do is pass money up here to the front and we are going to give it without question to those who ask for it. If you take money and don’t need it, I pray that God will judge you and will burn your pockets because you will be stealing from God and your fellow man. If you need it and don’t take it, it is your fault. This isn’t welfare; this is brothers and sisters sharing out of their abundance with those who have a need. If the money is passed and you need it, put the dollar or ten dollar bill in your pocket. Nobody will ask any questions. If you are wondering where your money is going, it is going to those who need it. If you don’t want to give on that basis, don’t give.”
continued, “‘While those who have come to Christ are still being counseled, will those who have excess money start passing it to the front?”
People started giving their money. I asked those who had a need to come forward and receive it. It was glorious! Money started being passed forward, people started crying and you could hear them saying, “Oh God, thank you, thank you.”
The needs were great. People needed money for phone bills, light bills, diapers, wheelchairs, food, and clothing. When the crowd saw where the money was really going, they began to give more.
This is when the reporters for the Miami Herald got their front page photo of all the money changing hands.
I told the people, “I promise you, no one connected with this march will take one penny. It is all for you. It is merely changing hands.”
When the last of the money had been distributed, everyone who needed money received it! Right in the middle of Liberty City! It was a glory, hallelujah. The testimony of TBN going where the crisis was and marching in with Rosy and all of us united: Spanish, black, white, all together sharing Jesus it was one of the greatest testimonies of love that America could see.
September 24, 1980 – I carried the cross through Carlsbad, New Mexico. This was my trip into the depths of the earth – 850 feet deep, the deepest I’ve ever carried the cross under the earth, although the Jordan Valley is deeper some 1,200 feet. I went to Carlsbad at the invitation of the Full Gospel Business Men and they had arranged with the park officials to have me carry the cross. Very few people were in the cavern when I went through at 6:5am. Those people who were at the caverns were in a state of shock when they saw me and the cross. It was a testimony to the Park officials, but it was also another milestone, this time carrying the cross into the depths of the earth. As I was carrying the cross through the caverns I was thinking of Jesus descending into Hell, where he led captivity captive, into the depths. It was thrilling for me.
The formations were incredible, the beauty indescribable, I had walked to the top of a mountain at an altitude of 11,015 feet in Costa Rica and now went down under the earth to a depth of 850 feet. It was another unique experience. It was beautiful, but it was very difficult getting the cross in some of the tight spaces.
We had a big rally in town that night and preached to a city-wide rally.