A memorial service for Steve Hill will be at Brownsville Assembly of God on Friday, the church where the charismatic evangelist lit the spark for a mega-spiritual revival lasting six years.
Hill died Sunday in the home he shared with his wife, Jeri, in Orange Beach, Ala., after a long battle with melanoma, according to senior Brownsville Pastor Evon Horton.
“He impacted so many people’s lives around the world, and at Brownsville Assembly of God, because he made it his mission to touch as many lives as he could with the message he had,” Horton said.
Hill’s sometimes tearful message recounted how he found salvation in 1975 from crime, alcohol and drugs when he dedicated his life to “spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world,” according to his website.
On Father’s Day 1995, Hill and Brownsville Pastor John Kilpatrick launched a revival during an emotionally charged service that eventually become one of the longest-running revivals of the 20th century.
Some 4 million followers from all over the United States and from around the world made a pilgrimage to the West Pensacola church to be physically healed or seek the same deliverance from their troubled past as Hill did.
One of the lives he touched was that of Krissy Nelson, 31, who traveled from Indiana at age 15 with her church youth group to participate in the revival.
“Steve Hill was a mighty man of God who did not compromise the message of the Gospel of Jesus,” Nelson said Monday. “Anybody would say that about him.”
The revival and Hill’s message changed her life radically, she said. She met her future husband during the revival and they later relocated to Pensacola, where she is pursing a ministry for mothers.
Responding to the huge crowds that flocked to Pensacola, the church began buying up nearby houses, razing them for parking lots and expanding the church campus, as well as refocusing its mission to support the exploding daily revival services.
The church took in millions in donations and in revenue from music and sermon CDs and educational materials, eventually sparking controversy and an investigative report in 1997 by the Pensacola News Journal about its financial organization and accountability.
Hill left Brownsville Assembly of God in 2000 to pursue his own evangelical work, including launching Heartland World Ministries Church and Steve Ministries in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Hill was forced to quit Heartland Ministries about a year ago because of his failing health, and he returned to live out his last days in Orange Beach, Horton said.
“I saw him a few weeks ago in his home, and I was told that was the last coherent conversation he had before passing away on Sunday,” Horton said.
Many of his revival leadership, including Kilpatrick, music minister Lindell Cooley, and ministry school president Michael Brown, will return to Pensacola to participate in Hill’s service.
“It’s going to be a celebration of his homecoming,” Horton said. “His being welcomed into heaven.”
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