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I suppose Rick and I could have written another book about all that happened to us during the writing of our story. Instead, we chose to write a Timeline of the events related to PTL since 1999 to present day. Except for a few relevant comments, we bowed out of the story.
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou has hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for it seemed good in thy sight. Matthew 11:25-26 (KJV)
To this day there are people who are interested in the PTL story. The Internet has a few groups that keep up with the Bakker family as well as Heritage USA. One website that we belonged to in 2003-4 had the following message posted by a Carolyn Smith, who worked at Heritage USA. This message bears mentioning as the preface to the Timeline. The message read:
“I just found this group about a week ago, and it has been with great interest that I’ve been reading some of the stuff on-line here. I haven’t had much opportunity to read a lot of the older stuff, but it’s encouraging to know there are still folks out there who care about PTL/Heritage USA.
My husband, John Smith, was a security guard while finishing college, and later, a children’s pastor there for 4½ years. I worked the 1-800-CALL-JIM # when it was in existence, and later the prayer phones when the 800# was done away with. I also worked with Christmas City for over a year, so we had MANY varied experiences while there. It is still a time in our lives that we recall with much fondness.
God spoke to us in early 1986 to leave PTL for a tiny little church in Wisconsin. We didn’t understand it…it made no sense…and yet, God’s intention for us was clear. Almost a year (to the day) later, the scandal broke, and it finally made sense to us why we were to leave a ministry we dearly loved.
Friends of ours visited Heritage USA a couple of years ago and told us that the Barn’s roof has caved in…in the shape of a cross. It is heartbreaking to hear of the neglect when Jim was so diligent about seeing that even light bulbs were replaced ASAP and quality given to it in its heyday.
But our friends also went to the Upper Room. They walked the “Walk of Faith” and read the scriptures along the way, and they said the presence of God is still mighty in that place. They had never been there on the grounds before, but there was an almost eerie familiarity about it, even to the point of being able to find places they were looking for…“knowing” where to turn to get there.
After leaving (PTL), someone, long forgotten who, told us a story that has stuck with me through the years. I thought of it as I was reading some of the more recent posts, and thought I’d share it with you.
I was told that not too long after the scandal broke, while people were still visiting Heritage USA, that as so often happened there, people were chatting and someone expressed a need, and a prayer circle was formed. As the people were praying, a 5-year-old girl who was with them spoke up and said, “Mommy, Mommy, PTL is on fire!” Just a few seconds later she spoke up again and said, “It’s OK now, Mommy. It is not on fire now, and everything is all new.”
I’ve held onto this image through the years and hoped and wondered and prayed that somehow God would indeed bring this to pass. God’s will for this anointed property come to pass…And the gospel be spread, and His name ultimately be glorified somehow through all of the trials and tests this special place has endured!
Blessings, Carolyn Smith”