The 10 Percent Doctrine

A preacher uses tithing to build a Latino megachurch

Gilberto Lopez was among the first clients of the rehab center 11 years ago. He now directs the center and says it has treated more than 3,000 patients. "Of those 3,000 people, we can honestly say that we've restored around 2,800 of them," Lopez says. The center takes on alcoholism, drug addiction and gangs. But it also battles witchcraft and demons, Lopez says. Another malady as defined by the church: homosexuality. "We have had cases where homosexuals say that they're happy, but once we treat them they say that really there is emptiness inside them," Lopez says. "It's like a drug addict may appear to be happy but inside there is an emptiness."

Emptiness also describes the center's original West Dallas home. Two years ago, the building was heavily damaged by a fire and still hasn't been repaired. The center now occupies a cramped rental building in Pleasant Grove. Apparently Gomez's drive to expand the reach of his media empire leaves little left over for his rehab center, and Lopez doesn't have the credit rating to take out a personal loan. Most of the bills, up to $3,000 a week, are paid for with the labor of its residents, who are hired out to install drywall, fix plumbing and trim trees. "The church also has a lot of expenses," Lopez argues. "I prefer to pray to God and ask him to help me somehow."

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