By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
Terry leans against the kitchen counter, flipping through a watch catalog. As Monroe hands him the phone, he closes his eyes. In a gentle voice, he asks the Lord to help the caller with sickness. "You know there's a problem she's facing now, Father God," he pleads. "I'm looking for a breakthrough in the mighty name of Jes-us!" When he opens his eyes, they are raw and damp. He looks deeply empathetic.
Monroe hears the prayer end and tells Terry to remind the caller he'll be touring Jamaica on April 26. A bottle of prescription painkillers and a pack of baby diapers sit next to her on the counter.
Afterward, New Times asks Terry how he'd describe God. "I think — " he starts.
"It's a spirit," Monroe interrupts.
Though Terry's family life has been dark at times, the trouble seems to have propelled him in the opposite direction — into an insular world marked by prayer and good deeds. Like his followers, Terry believes he has "a gift" that allows him to channel a higher power, cure the afflicted, and uplift the hopeless.
He says he got the calling when he was 3 years old. Tina Bernard — a short, Haitian-born 38-year-old who cared for him at a six-room Christian daycare called This Generation of Hope on West Broward Boulevard, says: "You'd never forget this boy." One morning, she came to work with a throbbing headache. Terry waddled over, took her head in his hands, and closed his eyes. She swears the pain faded upon his touch. "I felt a burden lift," she says. "I was lighter afterwards."
At the time, Monroe would take Terry with her whenever she preached. "This boy didn't know nothing but church," remembers the boy's aunt, Robbie Stone. "He was always in his room listening to Jesus music."
The next year, Terry says he realized, "God speaks through me." He thinks for a second, trying to describe it. "It's like a nice breeze come over me."
Adds mom Nicole: "He wasn't an ordinary child; he was more like an adult."
At age 4, Terry was reclusive; he dealt with asthma, hernia surgery, and prescriptions for digestive issues. One day, when the boy was 6, Monroe says, Terry's cousins awakened her. "Something's happening to Terry in the bathroom," one of them said. She pressed her ear to the door and found him preaching to himself.
That year, Monroe reports that she allowed Terry to give his first sermon at her church, True Gospel Deliverance Ministry. They held their services at Temple Beth El Synagogue in Palm Beach County. He moved to Pastor Ernestine Cooper's church in Fort Lauderdale. Says Cooper: "The message that comes out of him isn't from a child — it's the power of God."
In the months that followed, Terry's health complications faded and he started to make friends. Twin brother Todd Jr., who plays drums during the sermons, says other kids "knew he was a preacher, but they liked him anyway."
In the following years, Terry preached every Sunday at Monroe's church in Palm Beach County, where the family collected donations. Monroe says she put the money Terry earned into a personal account for the boy.
In November 2004, Monroe, who didn't work outside the church, was sued by Ford Motor Credit Co., which claimed she owed $1,500 and threatened to repossess her Ford Explorer. Terry's Bank of America account was frozen to pay for the car.
That March, the Sun-Sentinel ran a profile on Terry, calling him a "wonder boy" and dubbing him "The Little Man of God."
A few months later, Todd Durham built a website for his son that called the boy "the world's youngest licensed and ordained minister" and sold "Terry Durham products." The site shows a photo of the child — akin to an actor's headshot — clad in a pinstriped suit. In one hand, he holds the Bible. With the other, he points into the camera. "Please be advised Terry Durham is an international Minister," the site reads. "Booking will result in a contract and service fees."
On a recent Friday night, in an empty church parking lot, Todd Durham becomes animated as he speaks about his son. "Terry is the Hannah Montana of gospel!" he says. "When you're hot, everybody wants a piece of you."
The scene could have been plucked from Jesus Camp: In an immaculate white suit, 9-year-old Terry puts a microphone to his lips as benchfuls of children stare up at him with admiration. It's early 2007, and he urges the church crowd, "Don't lose faith." As he speaks, a young man his height — with buzzed hair and a neon-green shirt — limps toward him on crutches.
Midsentence, Terry reaches out and palms the injured boy's head. "Heal him in the name of Jesus!" Terry hollers.
The crowd cheers. The music blares. Overcome, the injured boy throws down his crutches and prances off-camera without a limp. "That child walked away dancing!" Monroe insists.
Around that time, Terry's audiences began to grow. With larger crowds came larger offerings. In February 2007, Terry preached at the Titus Harvest Dome Spectrum Church in Jacksonville before a gathering of 7,000. Trinity Broadcast Network, an international Christian television station, shot footage. Harvest Dome Minister Phillip Brown remembers that the show was so popular, they had to bring chairs into the aisles. "It was packed," he says, "You could see the hand of the Lord come upon him."