CUMMING, Ga. (BP)--Last fall, when Carol Gray entered the drawing to win a new vehicle at www.threeminutestory.com, she said she prayed "selfishly" to win before confessing her selfishness to God.Way to go, sister. Selfishness comes first, then comes forgiveness from God. Of course, you know that this wouldn't be a newsworthy item unless her prayer was answered:
Before evangelist Ronnie Hill handed Gray the keys to a new Chrysler 300 LX, more than a dozen people professed their faith in Christ in response to Hill's invitation after preaching at First Baptist Church in Cumming, Ga. "That's the whole thing right there," said Gray, a member of Alpharetta (Ga.) First United Methodist Church. "The car is secondary."
"The car is secondary."
Right. Stay away from Cumming, Ga. The BS is still settling.
O.K., here's the lowdown straight from the heart of Baptist Press:
Evangelist Ronnie Hill conducted a 12-month campaign, giving away a car to some lucky devil picked at random. The catch: view Hill's 3-minute Gospel spiel on his website. This got you registered for the raffle. According to Hill, more than 10,300 people watched his video and over 3,200 people "recorded professions of faith in Christ" after watching the video.
Who entered the drawing? Supposedly people from all 50 states and 29 countries (I'd like to know the names of those countries for some research of my own!).
When Hill called Gray on the phone to tell her she had won, like a good Christian, she thought he was a pervert who had somehow gotten her name and hung up on him. It took three or four tries by Hill to convince her he was legitimate.
"God dropped this car right into my lap," she said. "What an awesome provider and awesome answer to prayer."
About 60 churches across the country "partnered" with Hill to promote the vehicle giveaway at county fairs, music festivals, block parties and football games. Some website cards were even distributed to kids at Halloween along with candy and Bible tracts! (Please. Do NOT go to Cumming, Ga. not with kids, anyway)
Wait, there's more!...When Hill bought the car from Chrysler sales manager Kelly Chadwick, the manager had prayed for a sale that SAME DAY!
"It shows you that there's nothing God can't do," Chadwick said. "There's nothing that He can't handle."
Hokey, blasphemous gimmick?
"I don't care what people's motives are for signing up for the car, just that they hear the truth," Hill said. "People came to Jesus in the Bible for the wrong reasons, such as to be healed, for free food or to be entertained. But Jesus still told them the truth."So, in other words, it's O.K. to suck in souls as long as the end justifies the means. Remember Rick Warren's mantra: "Whatever It Takes." What difference then, between this kind of hucksterism than luring in poor people for a free meal, then tell them they have to "earn it" by listening to a preacher's harangue.
Somehow I just can't seem to capture the image of Jesus as snake oil salesman in my head.