January: Jim Bakker started his second year on television.
On the 18th, we received a newsletter from Tammy Faye explaining there was something on her lung that the doctors said could be cancer.
February: Rumors started circulating on the grounds that Jim Bakker’s friend, Rick Joyner, of MorningStar Ministries and a developer by the name of Earl Coulston were in a confidential agreement with the Malaysians to buy Heritage USA.
March: On the 7th, Tammy Faye posted a message about her health on her web site. An excerpt:
“Hello my friends,
Eight years ago I was told I had colon cancer. The day before my birthday I had surgery. It was successful and I celebrated my birthday, March 7th, with my doctors and my husband and friends at Eisenhower Hospital in Palm Springs, Ca. where we lived at the time.
A few days ago I learned that I once again have cancer. This time my doctors say I have lung cancer. I have three spots on my left lung. My vocal chord has been affected to the point where I have trouble speaking.
At this time I am waiting for the doctors to decide whether to operate or do chemotherapy and radiation to kill the cancer cells.
I have wrestled with the decision to share with you or just not say anything. But, you are my friends and sharing is what friendship is all about. Somehow it helps me to talk with you about it.
I ask for your prayers. The Bible says that ‘prayer changes things,’ and I truly believe God’s Word.
There is a verse in the Bible that means so much to me and I’m standing on God’s Word. It’s found in Isaiah 41:10:
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
I cannot say I am not scared because I am. Cancer is a scary name. But I know a name that is above all other names and that name is Jesus. Jesus is my savior and my friend and I trust Him with me. There is another verse in the Bible that is helping me right now. It says, ‘In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’
It’s really hard to give thanks when you are frightened, but I am trying. I think the hardest 7 words I have ever spoken to God are, ‘not my will but thine be done’…”
On the 18th, one of our local newspapers, The Herald, ran a front page story that the Malaysians were planning to sell the Heritage USA property to developers who were going to build hundreds of homes, including a shopping plaza at the Regent Park entrance.
The Childhood Home of Billy Graham that had been restored and relocated near the entrance to Heritage USA in the early 80’s was being dismantled and transported to the new location of the Billy Graham Ministries in Charlotte, North Carolina.
On the 3lst, because of Tammy Faye’s cancer diagnosis, the Larry King Show arranged for Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker to talk via satellite telephone. It was a heartfelt conversation causing Larry King to ask them, “Will it always be Jim and Tammy?”
April: Tammy Sue Bakker sent out a newsletter titled, “News About Mom.” The following are excerpts from the letter:
“Dear Friends and Family,
As you may have already heard, my Mother has lung cancer. I hate to start this letter with sad news, but we are trying to make the best of this situation… What the devil means for evil God means for good! Amen! We are standing on that right now every day! I want to tell you today don’t give up! Look at all God has allowed my family to go through and we are still alive and more in love with Jesus than ever! We know that God has never and will never leave us or forsake us! Please keep my Mother in your prayers. I want to thank the thousands of you who have e-mailed me and my Mother with all your beautiful words of love and encouragement! It means more to us than you will ever know! Thank you…
…Know today and every day that God loves you no matter what you’ve done! The past is in the past! When you bring it up, God says…I don’t even know what you are talking about! If He can forget you can forget and forgive yourself! We serve a God of a second and third chance! He knows we are human! (and He loves us anyway!)
Dear Lord, I pray for every one reading this letter today. I pray for their needs to be met today. God you know every one. We give them all to you and we lean on you today. Father, God…thank you for what you are going to do in our lives…we love you Jesus, Amen.
Be blessed and don’t give up! Love, Tammy Sue”
May: On the 31st, Tammy Faye posted another message concerning her cancer treatments. Here are excerpts:
Now for the continuing saga of me, Tammy Faye!
As much as I hate Chemotherapy, I have begun to see some humor in the whole process. ‘Everyone hates it!’ It’s not just me! We all hate everything about it! Ha! Ha! I’ve never once heard one person say, ‘Man, I just love chemo!’ So, we have a big, ‘I hate Chemo Club!’ But we are all sitting in a chair hours a day getting the stuff! We are wearing funny hats, bright colors, and carrying teddy bears or other little fuzzy ‘comfort pals.’ …..
Seriously…I do need your continuing prayers! There are times I think I cannot take the chemo another day. There are times I pray until I cannot pray anymore and that is where YOU come in my dear friends. There are times I cry until I think I can’t cry anymore. (I don’t expect YOU to do THAT with me, ha!) And then as I wrote in the front of the letter, there are times of laughter…
I’ve always been so healthy, it’s hard to know your body is sick…”
June: An excerpt from Jim Bakker’s letter of the month reflecting his progress:
“As you know, Lori and I are raising five inner-city children. To say the least it has been a challenge! They all need so much love and attention, not to mention things like always growing out of shoes and clothing. Lori gives her clothes to the oldest and then each one as they grow out of something passes it to the next one in age. But, poor little Ricky has no one to pass things down to him, maybe he is lucky – he does not have to wear his sisters’ clothes. Ha!
This is the last week of school and yesterday there was an award ceremony and graduation at the Christian School they attend. When all of our kids received numerous awards and every one of them was announced to be on the honor roll for all A’s, I was a proud Papa!…
…We have been doing all I know to do to be able to stay on the air these last few weeks, but the cost of television has been more than we have been receiving through the mail. If you can help with the best gift you can today, I want to send you two hours of video with Gary Smalley and Lori and me teaching the most powerful lessons on satisfying relationships that I have ever heard.
Everyone can use this information and perhaps you have a loved one who needs help in his or her marriage or in raising their children. You could give this powerful VHS tape or DVD video and it could save their marriage and family…”
July: Rumors spread around the grounds of Rick Joyner’s soon purchase of Heritage USA.
On the 15th, Jim Bakker announced on his show, “I just found out some good news about Heritage USA!…And if you knew what I know you would be excited too!” Then he actually kicked up his heels with joy.
August: During the first week, one of the leaders of MorningStar Ministries (at a Sunday service), and Charlotte’s main newspaper, The Charlotte Observer, reported that Rick Joyner and Earl Coulston were in the process of purchasing Heritage USA. MorningStar was buying the Heritage Grand Hotel, the Towers, the General Store, the castle shaped building that was going to be the largest Wendy’s in the world back in 1987, and a few chalets on Lake Heritage, which was located near the hotel. They were also purchasing additional acreage so that MorningStar could eventually build a new 5000 seat sanctuary. Rick Joyner was out of the country at the time The Charlotte Observer ran the story. Earl Coulston gave the interview to the newspaper adding, “I’ve always closed on every deal I’ve ever made.”
Earl Coulston and his wife, Sabrina, were purchasing the rest of the property over the railroad tracks to use for ministry and development. Earl Coulston told The Charlotte Observer, “I am going to give Heritage USA a face-lift.” He planned on putting in hundreds of homes, a shopping mall, and some light industry.
During the month, NarroWay Productions, the company that put on plays in the Amphitheater, were told by the Malaysians to remove all of their belongings out of the TV Studio where they held their winter dinner theater and Farmland where they kept their animals that were in their outdoor productions.
On the 24th, Rick Joyner put this note at the end of “Special Bulletin #3” on his web site:
“We are expecting our Harvest Conference this year to be another historic event in a number of ways. This year it will be held at “The Kings Arena”* on the grounds of the former “Heritage USA.” We have some major surprises for you this year, and I think a message will go forth from this conference that is critical for the times. Make your plans now to be there. It will be September 21 through September 26.”
*The Kings Arena was the name given to the Amphitheatre by NarroWay Productions.
Near the end of August Rick Joyner introduced Earl and Sabrina Coulston at a Sunday morning church service in his Charlotte church after he made the official announcement that they were all moving to Heritage USA. Rick Joyner was away when the news hit the media. He explained to his congregation that he had been bound by a confidentiality agreement with the Malaysians.
September: The 17th brought an enormous amount of rain to our area from Hurricane Ivan. There was another hurricane, Jeanne, in the Atlantic that threatened the conference turnout as it was going to be held in the Amphitheater.
Rick Joyner put out a Special Bulletin on his web site. An excerpt:
The Battle of the Harvest Conference (Special Bulletin #4, September 18th, 2004)
“This year it seems that every demon in hell has been released against our upcoming Harvest Conference, which is very encouraging to us. As I write this, the remnants of Hurricane “Ivan the Terrible” continues to blow outside. It has been a hellish week for the Southeast, including the Carolinas, but not in the hearts of our people. Everyone seemed committed to overcome whatever came and have fought through every obstacle so far. As the amount of opposition to our conferences has usually been a barometer of how powerful the conference will be, we are expecting this one to be one of the most important we have ever had.
Yesterday Hurricane Jeanne was scheduled to come inland somewhere in the Carolinas during the Harvest Conference. However, we prayed for it to be turned and by this morning it had. It is being forecasted to turn north and on out to sea. Now the weather is forecasted to be perfect through the entire conference. Thank You Lord!……..”
On the 20th, a few thousand people from at least 30 countries poured into Heritage USA. Rick asked Rick Joyner’s construction foreman, Ron Pinney, if he needed a hand. Ron told Rick that they needed help in directing traffic, so Rick volunteered.
On the 21st, the Amphitheatre was filled with a few thousand people. It was during the first night when Rick Joyner made this statement, “We are ready to close on the property we are buying here.” To cheers, he announced that MorningStar was purchasing the Grand Hotel and several acres of land.
On the 25th, the last night of the conference, there was mounting enthusiasm among many people that Heritage USA was going to be restored.
On Monday the 27th, MorningStar Fellowship Church completed the purchase of the former Heritage Grand Hotel including 52 acres of surrounding property. They intended to use the property as the primary base for their Charlotte congregation which included their Christian school, Comenius School for Creative Leadership, and their college level school, MorningStar School of Ministry.
Right after the conference ended, Rick Joyner, and his wife, Julie, flew up to Branson, Missouri to visit Jim Bakker on his TV show. The announcement was made in front of a live audience that erupted in applause at hearing the news. It was there and then that Jim Bakker broke into tears becoming overwhelmed with emotion learning that Heritage USA was finally going to be restored. He said with great compassion, “After 17 years Heritage USA has come back to the church.”
October: On the 12th, Rick Joyner wrote in Special Bulletin #5 about the purchase; an excerpt:
“The buildings are in considerable disrepair and it will be a long, hard, expensive job to restore them. However, worse than the condition of the buildings is the stigma and reproach that is on them. Our goal is to completely restore the buildings to better than new condition, along with their reputation. We believe this property, which was used to bring humiliation and reproach to the worldwide body of Christ, is called to become a testimony of God’s heart for redemption and restoration…
The site has a new name, Heritage International Ministries (H.I.M.). We are not naming it after MorningStar because we feel this is about something much bigger than we are. It is also our goal to honor the past and those who gave so much to build this property in the first place, while doing all that we can to learn from previous mistakes so that we do not repeat them. Therefore, we do not intend to forget or cover up the history of this property, but rather redeem it…
Though we acknowledge the significance of this property as a symbol, we know that the Lord is even more concerned with restoring people than buildings. We therefore hope to raise up a ministry on this property that truly fulfills Galatians 6:1:
“Brethren if a man is caught up in a trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness lest you be tempted……….”
All during the month, Rick Joyner’s crew wasted no time in restoring the decaying front portico and the lobby of the Heritage Grand Hotel. Ron Pinney was given the mammoth job of overseeing all the construction work that had to be accomplished by December 5th. MorningStar was going to use the huge lobby of the Heritage Grand to hold their services until they could build a new sanctuary.
Construction companies and volunteers worked long hours converting the lobby into a place where hundreds of people could sit comfortably. They made one of the restaurants inside the hotel into a platform to do the services from, and remodeled another area for MorningStar’s Book Store. Main Street was sealed off until donations came in to restore it.
They also had people come in to clean some of the 500 rooms. The Heritage Grand Hotel was the largest hotel in South Carolina and it was a huge challenge to open it in just a few months.
November: Working against time, the revamping of the lobby was on schedule, but not without a little trouble-shooting and some glitches. Rick and I went over the hotel a few times during the month to watch the transformation in progress. It was miraculous!
Rick looked into the Safety/Security team at MorningStar. They were looking for more people to help, so he decided to go to a Volunteer Meeting to see if this would be something he wanted to get involved in. At the meeting, he learned that all the Safety/Security people were to wear blue blazers. The Lord reminded him of the dream I had in 1987 and he volunteered.
On the 30th, Tammy Faye announced on Larry King Live that she was now “cancer free.”
December: On the 5th, the doors opened for the first service in the lobby of the Heritage Grand Hotel. There were news trucks parked everywhere, and reporters interviewed people as they went into the service. The media was welcomed inside by MorningStar. The place was packed out, with many people having to be turned away because the capacity of the lobby could not exceed 999 people.
At the end of the month, MorningStar held its annual New Years Conference in the lobby. Right before midnight Rick Joyner gave a message about the struggle involved in moving on the grounds of PTL. He had just lost his good friend, Reggie White, a few days before, and it was right after the great tsunami that killed over 250,000 people. His words were sobering and profound telling his partners that this was one of the hardest years for him, but he believed that it was all for the restoration to come.
He talked about the end times and how things were going to continue to get worse until the return of the Lord. He explained that it is not good to call this the time of the end, rather call it a new beginning for the world when Christ returns.
He also spoke about Jim Bakker and how it is the church’s responsibility to restore him. Using the Scripture from Galatians 6:l, he said, “If we don’t restore Jim Bakker then we will fall.” He talked about the importance of restoring one of our own, and how the world needs to see that adding, “After all aren’t we suppose to have the Holy Spirit in us who is the Helper?”
Rick Joyner said he was going to restore Jim Bakker and hold a “Restoration Conference” to honor Jim for his vision of building Heritage USA, now officially renamed Heritage International Ministries.
During the year the many acres on either side of the original entrance to Heritage USA were put up for sale. One side was sold to Ryan Homes who planned to build 100 two-story town homes. The other 10+ acres were being marketed for commercial property.