A 'Holy Ghost hoedown'

The Roanoke Times

June 16, 2006 
By Pamela J. Podger

Joe Adkins' gravelly voice thunders over the crowd and down U.S. 29.

In this season of summer tent revivals, the Pentecostal preacher is an auctioneer of faith, bidding people further into their beliefs. Tonight, he's on a grassy stretch at the edge of a mobile home sales lot in Lynchburg.

Looking for an answer, for hope, for a way forward, the seekers clutch their Bibles as they listen. The tent they're standing under has a red-lettered sign that says "Never Give Up."

"Devil, take your hands off of her!" the preacher shouts.

He mops his sweaty face, then flings a towel around his neck. He calls for a "Holy Ghost hoedown," stamping the stage. Like a Motown singer, he yelps and wail. "Loosen your affliction."

They rise from the hard plastic chairs and form a line, awaiting their cures. Truck lights play on the darkened trailers. Horns honk. Sheet lightning flashes and freshens the air with imminent rain.

On a table in the back, the preacher has set out his books and pamphlets, magazines and tapes. He totes them around in a worn pink suitcase.

"Let the power of Heaven and God fill her. Fill her, fill her!," he shouts.

Insomnia, allergies, stuttering, bad marriages, the crowd carries its woes to him.

"Expect the miracle. Feel the miracle. Believe in the miracle!" he insists.

When one woman whispers her ailment in his ear, he lays his hands on her.

"In Jesus' name, you're healed," he cries.

She walks away, fingers fluttering, speaking in tongues.

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