My cover story on Heidi and Rolland Baker is available online, here. They come from Southern California and they work in Mozambique, where I visited them. They are known for miracles.
They are, I think, the hottest thing in the Pentecostal world, and they definitely subscribe to radical approaches, not all of which I am comfortable with, to say the least. That said, I think they are genuine, and I have never before run into Western Pentecostals who combine full-on Pentecostal enthusiasm with a deep, primary commitment to serve the poor. It’s radically different from the Prosperity Gospel and indeed from the whole consumerist, therapeutic focus of much that passes for strong faith these days.
It is true, as some critics have pointed out, that the Bakers keep company with some pretty nutty people and occasionally subscribe to some marginal ideas themselves. (For example, dream tours of heaven.) But Pentecostals tend to be a pretty loosely organized convocation of cats, who don’t mind walking alongside people whom they don’t agree with. They don’t feel obliged, as a Reformed person would, to point out all the ways in which they are not sure the other guy is right. Their mutual enthusiasm keeps them together, not their doctrinal uniformity. To see these folks as members of a conspiracy, as some do, is based on a misunderstanding of Pentecostalism as a movement. So I think.