Benny Hinn followers flock to Charlotte for 2-day crusade

News 14 Carolina/November 21, 2002
By Debora Wong

Charlotte , NC -- A popular, if controversial minister is kicking off a two-day crusade at the Charlotte Coliseum Thursday and Friday.

Rita Laroc, 70, has made a 13-hour bus pilgrimage from New York City to Charlotte on blind faith. Laroc lost her sight five years ago to glaucoma.

"In my spirit, I feel the Lord is saying I must come," said Laroc. "And believe Him, I came by faith."

Laroc is in Charlotte seeking a miracle - healing she believes only evangelist Benny Hinn can give.

"God knows I need my sight, and I believe I'll receive it again," said Laroc.

Laroc joins these three 20-somethings fresh off a plane from Michigan and thousands of others who are hoping to feel the hand of God through Hinn's presence. There are some that believe Hinn is a wildly successful televangelist, author and self-proclaimed faith healer - and there are others that disagree.

Tim Morgan, of Christianity Today, said, "Many believe he's a wonderful preacher and gifted healer. Many others believe he's a kook and a crank."

"It's not Benny Hinn, it's the power of God," said crusade attendee Brande Oats. "It's the holy spirit working through him. He's just a servant."

While Hinn's detractors say he is a wolf in sheep's clothing preying on people in need, there is no denying the enthusiasm of his followers.

"Gotta come get a seat. First come, first serve. There's a lot of people who love Benny Hinn. And you have to get here before they do," said Hinn follower Delores Elkins.

"He's a miracle worker," said crusade-goer Lennah Coffel. "He has God's spirit and you can feel that spirit radiate from him."

No matter what his critics say, his followers believe he can do no wrong.

Hinn is holding services at the Charlotte Coliseum at 7 p.m. Thursday and two service Saturday at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Several religious organization were contacted for comments, but declined.

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