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This Pint-Sized Preacher May Be a Prophet, But Who's Profiting?

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Adds her lawyer, Dennis McHugh: "She paid restitution — that's the only reason she didn't go to prison."

Around that time, Monroe began to run an intimate church congregation in a blue townhouse in Sunrise. Terry, then a chubby toddler, would suck on his index finger, watch her preach in the living room, and imitate her voice inflections, she says.

By 2003, she and the twins moved from the $65,000 townhouse into a white $200,000 Oriole Estates house, where a glistening pool sometimes served as a baptismal font.

Soon, Monroe says, she went on disability for "a back problem," stopped working, and began to care for five foster children. From 2001 to 2006, she filed five claims seeking child support against relatives of unrelated children.


A big-screen TV flickers on a lazy Saturday afternoon in March at Sharon Monroe's dimly lit, one-story Margate home when the phone rings. "Praise the Lord," she answers. "You calling from Jamaica for Minister Terry?" she asks, her drowsy brown eyes shifting from the television to the boy. There's a pause. "Yeah, you want him to pray for you?"

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."

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Natalie O'Neill