Kids starve themselves for salvation at Trinity Church

Trinity Church smells like a high school locker room: all sweat and perfume. It's Tuesday night and at least 1,000 young Miamians — Haitians, Cubans, Venezuelans, African-Americans, and Caucasians — are packed into a low-slung concert hall for a weekly event called "The Rendezvous," or simply "The Vous." The scene is straight out of MTV, but without ass cheeks and F-bombs. Christian rock blares from loudspeakers. On stage, a multicultural rainbow of singers jumps up and down to the ever-quickening beat. God only knows where they get the energy: Most of them are starving — literally.

Terrence Wilson, a pastor at Trinity in his late 20s, is one of them. He's one month into a 40-day liquid-only fast in the name of Jesus, but he's bounding around the stage in a backwards cap like he's Method Man, high on something supernatural. Beside him, Rabson Senat, who hasn't eaten anything but fruits, vegetables, and Ensure in weeks, is crooning to the rafters like he's R. Kelly.

"The liquid fast is really tough," says Senat, a handsome, black 26-year-old in a T-shirt and jeans. "I just drink water and a shake at lunch. Sometimes I get headaches for food, but they just remind me to pick up The Book and read."

Trinity pastor Rich Wilkerson Sr. — a prosperity-gospel televangelist and Ken doll look-alike — began promoting fasts 12 years ago as a way to deepen church members' relationships with God. Now roughly one third of Trinity's nearly 3,000 members are on some sort of fast, says Liz Eden, director of communication for the Pentecostal church in North Miami. Many, like fiancées Jason Hodges and Allison Funes, restrict themselves to consuming only liquids one day per week. Others practice a "Daniel fast," a fruits, vegetables, and nuts-only diet named after the Biblical figure who refused to eat at King Nebuchadnezzar's sumptuous table.

Not surprisingly, fasting for Jesus isn't always healthy. Andre Etienne, a student at Miami Dade College who will sprint the 400-meter dash in next year's Olympics for Haiti, was two weeks into a liquid-only diet when his body basically shut down.

"Everything was out of whack," he says. "My body was cold even though it was hot outside. My joints hurt." Despite getting sick and setting back his Olympic training for at least several months, Etienne says he has no regrets. In fact, he's now on a Daniel fast.

"Although it would seem kind of radical to some people, I didn't want to just play church," he says before going back on stage. "I wanted radical change in my life."

 
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Karen Espinosa
Karen Espinosa

Interesting story in Riptide, entitled "Hungry for Jesus", written by Michael E. Miller. The article starts off with a very inaccurate statement that "kids are starving themselves for salvation." Although Mr. Miller did one biblical citations for his hollow research on Daniel the prophet in the Old Testament, clearly the most important biblical figure, Jesus Christ, and the entire concept of salvation seems to have slipped through his research. First of all, not only has fasting been mentioned in the Bible since before the New Testament, meaning it is not something designed specifically for Jesus, but rather for God, but moreover salvation as described in the Bible (the book the author himself cites as a source for background information) comes through faith in Jesus as being the son of God that was crucified for the sins of all people so that by faith in him they will receive above referenced salvation. It is described as being given freely and undeserved, not being granted to someone through works or rituals but a simple evaluation of their heart by God. It's very simple and explained in the New Testament at length. Nowhere in the bible does it say that fasting will grant you salvation. Nowhere in the Bible is that a condition for salvation or a factor in determining whether or not you will get it. If you want to mock a religious group for practices you find silly how about you at the very least not distort the concept behind the practice in question with misleading statements. Fasting is a personal decision based on the believer that they may want to strengthen their relationship with God and worship him for a period of days or weeks. Not only is this not exclusive to Christianity, but it is offensive and unethical to question a person's religious practices that have no endangerment to the safety or well being of others. Rich Wilkerson, the Ken Doll, is not the first person to promote such an act of worship, nor the inventor of this idea. Obviously those people are not fasting for their personal health or to drop 20 lbs for a movie role like the celebrity actors quite frequently do and is cited in magazines all the time. So what exactly is your point by pointing out that it's not healthy? Clearly this point is merely a weak attempt at weakening the religious practice of others without an ounce of respect of legitimate inquiry.

Mr. Miller should refrain from criticizing children on their belief on God, whoever God their God may be, or criticizing groups of multi-cultural and multi-ethnic people coming together in peace and harmony, who are not enforcing their views on others and are simply coming together as an assembly consistent with all of the freedom provided by our constitution? Solidarity, a common term used by people with regard to standing together against divisive oppressors, is a beautiful thing whether it is done in the name of civil rights or it be done in the name of God. I would think the latter would be more sustainable for bringing people together seeing as it is something that involves no politics in its truest form. If it brings about unity, why bash it? Unless Mr. Miller is hell bent on debunking religious practices all together by his original and ground breaking scientific observations.

PS - Daniel, is most famous not for his refusing to eat at King Nebuchadnezzar's sumptuous table, but for standing up for what he believes in, even when he was ordered by an oppressive king to stop praying, he did not stop doing so, and consequently the king ordered that he should be killed by the cruel and tortuous death of being fed to Lions. He didn't die, and the King acknowledged that he was in fact protected by God, and that King worshipped Daniel's God after that incident. Just a little background that should have struck out to Mr. Miller had he actually understood the significance of the biblical figure, Daniel.

I hope the Miami New Times continues to encourage their principles of exposing the truth and of strengthening the community by admonishing their writers from slanderous pieces that defile a religious group for no reason other than to mock it and use it for satire. For as we all know that those who oppress freedom of religion and freedom of speech are never friends of the rights of the people and are never advocates of truth.

One more thing, check out the link to see what the kneeling skeleton kids really look like:http://vimeo.com/19266868

Jessica
Jessica

Why are we bashing people for learning discipline? Do you bash people during lent or rammadan? Those are fasts as well - I know that the jews also fast during certain times of the year. If someone were forcing them to fast that would be one thing. In the days of selfishness and excessive shopping and consumerism, I think we all need a little fast every once in a while.

Rausky79
Rausky79

Fast all you want,this way there's more food for me!!

Drake Mallard
Drake Mallard

Remember, reading the Bible plus accepting Jesus equals FOOD"

Dominiquanita
Dominiquanita

everybody has their opinion but i think rausky79 is wrong 4 saying what he said!! i go 2 trinity. and i believe until you go there and experience it for yourself you shouldn't make comments

 
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