The unusual display at Christian Tabernacle has caused a stir at
the Pentecostal church
By: James H. Rutz in Houston
Like a bolt of lightning from the sky, God's power zapped the pulpit
at the Christian
Tabernacle in Houston last fall, splitting the speaker's podium in two pieces before a
stunned congregation and igniting a series of revival meetings that are still going on.
The bizarre pulpit-splitting incident, which occurred during an early
on Oct. 20 last year--has resulted in hundreds of professions of faith in Christ as well
as several reported healings.
On Oct. 6, just two weeks before the black Plexiglas pulpit was split
in half, the
3,000-member church on Houston's east side began holding revival meetings five
times a week.
Church leaders' commitment to giving the Holy Spirit full control over
has produced as many as 30 to 40 salvations during a few services. Long periods of
silence during the meetings--induced by what one observer called "the overbearing
weight of God's glory"--also have become common. On one occasion the silence
lasted for an hour and a half.
Healings, too, have been reported. Three people were healed of profound
one Sunday morning while being prayed for by a 7-year-old boy who had just been
healed of the same infirmity.
The pulpit-splitting incident has left an identifying mark on the meetings.
Tommy Tenney, a third generation Pentecostal pastor, and Christian Tabernacle
pastor Richard Heard told Charisma that the event left them amazed.
In a worship atmosphere "thick" with God's presence at the 8:30 a.m.
Oct. 20, Tenney and Heard were hesitant to break a worshipful silence with their
preaching. Heard, at one point, leaned over toward Tenney and said, "Are you ready
to take over the service?"
Tenney responded that he feared going to the pulpit because he sensed
"something big" was about to happen. Tenney didn't budge. Heard rose a few
moments later, walked across the soft-padded red carpet, mounted the 28-inch
platform, grasped the podium and read 2 Chronicles 7:14.
"What the Holy Spirit is saying to us is that we should seek God's face,
hand," Heard told the congregation. "We should not be seeking just His benefits, but
should be seeking also to know Him."
At that instant, a loud clap of noise hit the sanctuary. Heard was thrown
and landed 8 or 9 feet away and flat on his back. He lay uninjured, but overcome by
a sense of the Holy Spirit's presence. Only a nonstop twitching of his right hand
showed that he was still alive.
The podium--made of a half-inch thick, plastic material--did not fare
as well. It was
split into two pieces that were flung toward the congregation in different directions,
landing 6 or 7 feet apart. The base and top were unscathed, but the middle was
The congregation was stunned. Tenney gave several altar calls, and people
coming forward--some falling in the Spirit before they reached the altar area. Fifteen
and a half hours later, at midnight, the meeting ended. There was no earthly
explanation for what the people had seen, but they knew God had spoken loudly.
Tenney said he believed God had zapped the podium in two "as a symbolic
the face for the tight human control of the church across America."
Later, the pulpit manufacturer was informed of the incident. The firm
was any way the material could ever split as it did--along a diagonal jagged line.
If the podium had been subjected to extremely high pressure--more than
pounds per square inch, for example--it would have shattered into tiny splinters like
glass, the manufacturers said. But they insisted the material would never split by
natural means the way it did that Sunday morning at Christian Tabernacle.
The two broken pieces were first kept in the church office. But a steady
curious people vying for a glimpse of the broken podium forced church officials to
relocate the pieces back in the sanctuary.
To date the meetings continue, and Heard says he's ecstatic about the
isn't a spot of carpet in the place that hasn't been stained with tears of repentance."