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A British Christian working in Argentina attended the church of one of the city’s best-known Pentecostal pastors, Claudio Freidzon, and gave the following graphic account of her experience.
A smartly suited young man took centre stage and suddenly the hall erupted into applause. A deep drum roll led into the bouncy beat of ‘La única razón para vivir’. The floor vibrated with hundreds of tapping feet and a few energetic youth jumping to rhythm. The rock music electrified the air, raising excitement and expectation; the people sang with hot Latin enthusiasm. The song finished to instant applause and another song even more vibrant than the first started up. The song leader paced the stage like a pop star holding the microphone close to his mouth. Everyone knew the words, and they sang without restraint, punching the air with clenched fists, then with pointed fingers. The floor vibrated, the air tingled, the beat pulsated through the body and excitement grew. ‘We are part of history,’ he shouted. Everyone cheered. ‘Argentina is part of history.’ Excited clapping and screaming erupted.
Freidzon arrived to more applause. He took the microphone, a stream of incomprehensible words followed, people joined in with praise tongues, the loud music continued, the auditorium was filled with music and the hum of human voices praising God. Slowly he walked back and forth with hands in the air continuing to speak in tongues into the mike, and then he started clapping. In a loud voice he declared, ‘You reign over all the earth.’ The people cheered and clapped. ‘Manifiesta, manifiesta,’ he commanded. He started to pray. ‘Flames, flames’ he called while wafting his hands over the front rows. People stretched their hands high as if trying to catch the flames. The deep drum roll continued while he prayed in tongues then moved into the music for the next song, as he started singing ‘Rise up Lord’. With the lively beat everyone burst into fiesta mode once more.