Historian Richard Riss (left with wife Kathryn) wrote many books including A Survey of 20th-Century Revival Movements in North America. His doctoral research at Drew University includes study of the current awakening. This edited selection is from his Internet publication The Worldwide Awakening of 1992-1995, Eleventh Edition, October 15, 1995.
Many people have encountered God anew or afresh
During the early 1990s, a revival, or reawakening of Christian faith, became evident in many parts of the world.
Receiving its initial impetus from the ministries of many people, including Claudio Freidzon of Buenos Aries, Argentina, Rodney M. Howard‑Browne, a South African evangelist ministering in the United States, Mahesh Chavda of Charlotte, North Carolina and Cindy Jacobs of Colorado Springs, Colorado, this outpouring of God’s Spirit touched a large number of people in many places.
An unusual visitation among the Vineyard Churches which originated in Mississauga, Ontario, outside of Toronto, on January 20, 1994 also brought this new anointing to many people in mainline denominational and non‑denominational churches throughout the world.
At all of the meetings associated with this fresh outpouring, there have been many emotional and physical healings. Many people have encountered God anew or afresh, and have been brought to a place of repentance and brokenness. People have often fallen down under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, become ‘drunk’ in the Spirit, and become filled with the joy of the Lord, laughing almost uncontrollably, or weeping or shaking. Large numbers of children have been affected, many of whom have reported seeing visions of heavenly things.
Phenomena of this kind characterized a revival that began in 1992 in Buenos Aires, Argentina under Claudio Freidzon. According to a publication of the Assemblies of God, Mountain Movers (October 1993, p. 6), at Freidzon’s meetings, “as people entered into adoration and worship, some became ‘drunk’ on the Spirit and could not stand up. Others laughed in the Spirit or fell under the power of God. Each service lasted six or seven hours. Outside, hundreds waited in lines that stretched around the block to get into the church.”
Some of the components of the revival were evident for several years in many places. A. L. Gill, a prominent missionary from California, saw the ‘holy laughter’ in his meetings throughout the world beginning in 1983, culminating with the summer of 1993, when he led a praise and worship seminar at Doug Girard’s Vision Christian Centre on Chestnut Street in Lawrenceville, Georgia, near Atlanta. This seminar exploded into healing after a woman was dramatically healed of cancer of the tongue. The meetings were extended over a period of many days, and became known as the Chestnut Street Revival.
Tony and Marj Abram, missionaries from Arkansas, also saw drunkenness in the Spirit and the ‘holy laughter’ in many places for several years. They first observed it in 1986 at an Assemblies of God church pastored by John Lipton, currently of Dover, in England.
A church in Riverside, New Jersey, just outside of Philadelphia, East Coast For Jesus Ministries, pastored by Louis Halcomb, was at the centre of a worldwide sovereign move of the Spirit beginning in the late 1980s. Particularly after Operation Desert Storm in early 1991, Halcomb began seeing God move in unusual ways wherever he ministered. Local newspapers in Paris, France, Geneva, Switzerland, the Philippines, reported on the revivals in these places in the wake of his ministry. Halcomb saw many people slain in the Spirit, laughing in the Spirit, drunken in the Spirit, and experiencing deliverances.
In one case, when Aleen Backsly was at Halcomb’s church, people were slain in the Spirit everywhere. She would hug people in the foyer, and they would fall down. At the same time, outside, people who were getting out of their cars were falling down under the power of the Spirit as their feet hit the pavement, and it caused problems for those who were trying to park cars in the church parking lot.
East Coast For Jesus Ministries became influential to a number of other churches, including Calvary Worship Centre in Port St. Lucy, Florida, pastored by Thomas E. Smith and Bob Roach. Calvary Worship Centre experienced a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit beginning in the late 1980s which reached new heights during its building dedication in July of 1994, which was preceded by a week of prayer and fasting. In this case, the revival wasn’t the result of any special visitors, but there was a spontaneous outbreak of revival and its associated phenomena, including holy laughter, drunkenness in the Spirit, and other manifestations. As a result of this new outbreak of revival, they began twelve services a week. Their new building seated 550 people, but they found it necessary to have two services on Sunday mornings in order to accommodate everyone.
According to Bob Roach, prior to the awakening associated with Rodney Howard‑Browne’s ministry and that of the Toronto Airport Vineyard, when LaVerne and Edith Tripp visited Calvary Worship Centre, LaVerne was slain in the Spirit as soon as he arrived, and had to be carried into the sanctuary to preach. At the time he said, “Your church is the best kept secret in America.”
Bob Roach said that “there has been a move across the United States in smaller churches that nobody really knows anything about that has preceded the more visible signs of awakenings. In one case, Stan Johnson, formerly a professional ball player with the New York Yankees, visited and taught on the anointing for a 6 or 7 hour service. People came in stretchers and were raised up, and this was recorded on video. Many prophets come in and out of that church, including Ed Corley, whose ministry is very similar to that of Derek Prince, and Mike Connors, who was at one time A. A. Allen’s associate, and who is also a friend of Wade Taylor’s at Pinecrest. We want to make sure that it’s God working in our midst, and we’re seeing so many lives change and marriages put back together, and pastors going back to their churches restored and refreshed. In 1991 or 1992, Dr. Ron Shaw brought in Reinhard Bonnke (Shaw’s brother‑in‑law), and there was a tremendous impartation given to the pastors who were there, including Rodney Howard‑Browne, who was visiting from Karl Strader’s Church (the first time he was there). Rodney did the offering at that time, and was one of many, many pastors and leaders who received a real impartation from Bonnke.”
Karin Detert of Berlin, Germany, visited Argentina for three weeks, then later returned for another three months. While visiting King’s Church in Thanet, U.K., in October of 1994, she reported [according to Peter Verral, new-wine internet list, October 19, 1994] that a new surge of spiritual power in Argentina had begun in 1992, bringing “a renewed hunger for God, a new emphasis on personal holiness, a new desire for prayer, and also demonstrations of the Spirit’s power. . . . In my home church in Berlin we have had many visits from some of the leading men of God who are leading this Argentine revival; ministers like Omar Cabrera, Carlos Annacondia, Hector Gimenez and Claudio Freidzon. During these last three months, I have had the privilege of working in the church of Claudio Freidzon and I have been able to see and able to learn.”
The prelude to these events was in the early 1980s, at which time God raised up Carlos Annacondia, a businessman turned evangelist. “Crowds gathered together to hear him preach because his ministry was accompanied by signs and wonders, healings (for instance, filling of teeth) and deliverances. In mass crusades thousands of people accepted Christ as Saviour. Virtually every church grew” (ibid).
Then, according to Karin Detert,
In 1992, a second wave of revival began with Claudio Freidzon, founder of a Buenos Aires church that in four years has grown to 3000 people. Pastor Claudio, who was very busy in all areas of his church felt a need to really come to know the Holy Spirit. Whilst he was seeking an encounter with God, the Holy Spirit touched him one day in a powerful way and his ministry changed dramatically. An unusual presence of the Holy Spirit started accompanying him in his meetings.
During the services, as people entered into adoration and worship, some became drunk in the Spirit and could not stand up. Some had to be taken home by others because they could not drive or walk on their own. Others laughed in the Spirit or fell under the power of God. The services were very long (4‑5 hours), many miraculous healings were reported. Other pastors came to see and to receive the same anointing. Claudio prayed for them and they received a fresh and new anointing and took it back to their churches.
A hallmark of this revival is an emphasis on worship and praise. God’s presence descends as we immerse ourselves in adoring Him. Some people weep throughout an entire service; others rejoice with laughter. Many are led to deep repentance, pastors and congregation.
An emphasis on personal holiness has caused many to change their lifestyles. Less time spent watching television, for example. Critics have accused some of faking religious experiences. But the emphasis on holiness, the desire of the people to praise and worship, and increase in concern for reaching others with the Gospel are genuine. And although the revival started in Claudio’s church, it has spread to hundreds of pastors and churches in Argentina.
God has also opened doors for a world‑wide ministry and, wherever he goes he ministers in this same anointing, which then remains in those places; and so this revival could be brought to many other places around the world, like for instance, also to my own church in Berlin, where God started moving in a tremendous way since September, 1993, when Claudio came to minister in our church.
This new wave of the Holy Spirit started about two and a half years ago in Claudio’s church and is still going on. I had the privilege of being part of their wonderful services where people were always caught up in a tremendous worship, sometimes weeping in the services, sometimes laughing. The presence of God was always very powerful. The people in the church are very healthy and spiritually strong in the Word. There is a bold emphasis on the need for balance between the Word and the Spirit. . . .
In my church in Berlin many people gave way to frustration because they had not, at first, experienced an outward experience (laughter, crying, falling under the Spirit). The work of the Spirit is much deeper. These manifestations should be the effect and not the cause, for God’s work at this time is much deeper and has to do with matters of the heart. His Spirit is coming . . . in order to put the Church back on course, restoring a willingness and a desire to repent. He is putting his finger on sin and giving us the desire to let it go. But this all comes with an immense sense and realization of the awesome love that God has for us. Another aspect of this anointing is growing compassion and love for the lost. God is preparing us to reap the Harvest.
The January 1994 issue of Charisma carried an article on Claudio Freidzon, which reported:
One recent evening in Argentina, 65,000 people filled the seats, aisles and most of the playing field at Velez Sarsfield stadium in Buenos Aires. For hours they sang, clapped and worshipped God. Thousands then streamed to the platform where a handsome evangelist named Claudio Freidzon waved his arms over those gathered near the stage. “Receive the anointing!” Freidzon shouted. In an instant, as if on cue, hundreds of people fell backward. Some laughed, others cried, some lay motionless on the ground. These people fainted, says Freidzon, because they were “overcome by the presence of God.” . . .
What happened at Velez Sarsfield that night has been repeated on numerous occasions since the 38‑year‑old Freidzon launched his crusade ministry in 1992. An Assemblies of God pastor and former theology professor, Freidzon says he is consumed with seeing churches in his country filled with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. . . . as many as 1,000 people have been converted in one evening in Freidzon’s meetings. . . .
Spiritual hunger has been evident in the South American country for a decade, ever since evangelist Carlos Annacondia encouraged local churches to unite in prayer for revival. But some observers say Freidzon has brought a new dynamic to the spiritual awakening that has jolted Argentina in recent years.
“The anointing on Annacondia is for tearing down demonic strongholds that keep the lost from coming to Christ,” says one evangelical pastor from California who has visited Argentina many times. “Claudio Freidzon’s anointing is for building up the church as it strives to minister to so many new converts.”
Freidzon’s own ministry was influenced significantly by Annacondia. In 1979, when Freidzon planted his first church in the Argentine capital, he found it difficult to win anyone to Christ. . . . The success of the Annacondia crusades and a personal meeting with Annacondia encouraged Freidzon to persevere through seven years of ‘spiritual desert’. Then in 1986, Freidzon says, the Lord directed him to begin preaching in a nearby park frequented by drug peddlers. That was a turning point for his ministry. Freidzon’s King of Kings Church grew to 2,000 members in four years.
But Freidzon still believed something was missing in his ministry. He says he discovered the lost ingredient when he read Benny Hinn’s Good Morning Holy Spirit. That book ‑ and a subsequent meeting with Hinn in 1992 ‑ convinced him to pursue deeper intimacy with the Holy Spirit. . . .
“Pastors in Argentina were seeking methods for church growth”, he says. But after he decided to spend as much time as possible listening to the Holy Spirit in prayer, Freidzon began telling pastors that methods were not the answer.
His advice: “There is no method. We must seek the presence of God.” It was after he met Hinn that Freidzon’s church mushroomed to 4,000 members and his crusades began attracting huge crowds. . .
“My message is simple. I’m emphasizing the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
In July of 1979, at eighteen years of age, Rodney M. Howard‑Browne of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, reached a crossroads in his life. Over a period of several months, an increasing spiritual hunger had been developing within him, and while at an interdenominational prayer meeting with about eighteen young people at this time, he cried out to the Lord, “God, either you come down here tonight and touch me, or I’m going to die and come up there and touch you.” He began shouting, frightening nearly everyone who was present. He shouted for twenty minutes, “God, I want your fire.”
Describing this incident at his camp meeting fifteen years later (July 18, 1994), he said it was as though all of a sudden somebody had taken gasoline and put a lighted match to it. The fire of God fell upon Him instantaneously, and he was immersed in the liquid fire of the Holy Spirit. He became completely inebriated in the Holy Ghost. He was beside himself. Overflowing, he laughed uncontrollably. He went from laughter to weeping to tongues, back to laughter and weeping again. Four days later, the glory of God was still upon him, and by this time he was saying, “God, lift it. I can’t bear it any more. . . Lord, I’m too young to die, don’t kill me now.” For a two‑week period, he felt the presence of God. He said that, although these things became the basis of his later ministry, this was not really evident until about ten years later.
In 1980, while still in his native country, he was travelling in ministry with a group of denominational people. He would preach, and they would sing, but he was warned not to talk about the Holy Ghost, but to talk about Jesus. One day, when they were in the vestry of a Methodist church, a woman who was in terrible pain asked for prayer. Rodney said that he continued as follows:
I got up from my seat. . . . I was going to put my hand on her head. . . And I lifted my hand and got it about here. Just like it looked like you’d pull a six‑gun out of a holster and point it at somebody. And when my hand got about HERE, it felt like my fingertips came off, and out of my hand flowed a full volume of the anointing and the power of God, and it flowed right out of my hand and it went right in to her forehead and she crumbled in the floor. . . . There was nobody in the room more amazed than me. And I looked down at the woman and I looked at my hand, . . . and I’ll tell you what ‑ my hand ‑ the fire of God ‑ the anointing of God ‑ the virtue ‑ the dunamis was still coming out of my hand. It felt like my hand was a fire hose. And now you start getting nervous ‑ you think, “I’d better look out where I point this thing. This thing’s loaded now.”
And so the rest of the team came in, and I didn’t know what to do with it other than what we’d just done, so I said, lift your hands. Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam, they’re all out in the back of the vestry. . . . Now I’m in trouble. If the priest comes back, I’m finished. . . . So I went around and just managed to . . . get them just right and sober them up and say “get up and pull yourself together, we’ve got to go in to the meeting,” and we managed to get them all up except one girl. We had her propped between two men and got them out into the auditorium. . . .
I get into the service, and that night I had to speak and I said to the Lord, I said, “Lord, you know I’m not allowed to talk about Holy Ghost. You know I’m not allowed to talk about tongues. You know I’m not allowed to talk about ‘fall’ and ‘power’ and these words. . . . Lord, how can we have what happened in the back room . . . happen out here?” And the Lord said to me . . . “Call all those that want a blessing.” . . . Everyone raised their hands. So I said, “All right, get up, come up, and line up.” . . . And so I was going to go down and lay my hands on the first person’s head. And the Lord said to me, “Just be very careful, and so don’t put your hands on them because some people [will] think you’ll push them over if you do.” . . . I take my finger, . . . put it on the forehead of the first person and I said, “In the name of Jesus.” . . . It looked like an angel stood there with a baseball bat and smacked them up the side of their head. And the person hit the floor. And I went down the line. Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam. The whole row was out under the power of God . . . Some of the people were pinned to the floor. . . . for an hour and a half. Some of them, the moment they hit the ground they were speaking with other tongues, and we had said nothing about it. . . . And that anointing stayed again for a period of two weeks.
Let me tell you right now – for an eighteen‑year old to experience that kind of anointing – it’s dangerous. And then suddenly, . . . it was gone. I prayed for people, they would fall down, but it was not the same. And I thought I’d lost the anointing. So now I’m starting to pray ‑ to get before God and find out: “What have I done to lose the anointing, and what formula must I use to get it back?” . . . He said, “You can’t do anything to get that anointing back. . . . That anointing is not you. . . . That anointing is all me. It has nothing to do with you.” He said, “I just gave you a taste of what will come later on in your ministry, if you are faithful.” He said, “If I gave it to you now, you’d destroy yourself. . . . I can’t give it to you now. . . . There’s no formula for it. If there was a formula for it, you’d do it and you’d get it, and you’d think it was you. . . . From now on, whenever that anointing comes, you’ll know it’s not you and you’ll know it’s all me and you’ll have to give me all the glory and all the praise and all the honour.”
In December of 1987, Rodney M. Howard‑Browne arrived in the United States to engage in evangelistic work, but it was not until April of 1989 in Clifton Park, near Albany in upstate New York, that he began experiencing continuous revival during his meetings. In a 1994 interview on TBN with Paul Crouch, Rodney Howard‑Browne said of the outset of the revival that, while he was preaching, The power of God fell in the place without warning suddenly. People began to fall out of their seats. . . . rolling on the floor. The very air was moving. People began to laugh uncontrollably while there wasn’t anything funny. . . . The less I preached, the more people were saved.
From this point onward, these phenomena accompanied his ministry regularly. A description of some of his meetings at Emmanuel Christian Church of Spring Hill, Florida, pastored by Bill Wilson, appeared in the February 14, 1993 issue of the St. Petersburg Times (“Signs and Wonders” by Dan DeWitt): “The revival was not only the largest in Hernando County history, say the believers, but the most inspiring. As many as eight hundred people gathered by night time services. . . . Some worshipped ten hours a day. Almost all claim to have been reborn, to have been gripped by the joy of God, or to have been healed of a long‑standing emotional or physical ill[ness].” At a meeting at Tabernacle Assembly of God in Orchard Park, New York in May of 1994, Bill Wilson reported that the revival at his church had continued unabated since it had begun. He estimated that 1500 people had become Christians during the previous sixteen months in Spring Hill, Florida as a result of the revival.
Rodney Howard‑Browne’s influence soon reached worldwide proportions. Ken and Nancy Curtis of Clearwater, Florida, have recorded a videotape, “The Laugh Heard Round the World,” documenting the spread of this revival throughout the Philippines, Singapore, Russia and Africa after they received their own initial impartation at a series of Rodney’s meetings in the United States.
Rodney Howard‑Browne ministered at a Kenneth Copeland meeting, probably at some point during 1992 or 1993. After Kenneth Copeland called him up to the front, Rodney began to prophesy:
This is the day, this is the hour, saith the Lord, that I am moving in this earth. This is the day that I’ll cause you to step over into the realm of the supernatural. For many have preached, and it’s been prophesied of old and said there was a move coming. But Oh, it’s even now and even at the door. For the drops of rain are beginning to fall to the glory of God. Yes, yes, many of you that have sat on the threshold and have said, “Oh, God, when should it be?” Oh, you know that this is the day and this is the hour that you’ll step over into that place into my glory. For this is the day of the glory of the Lord coming in great power. . . . For I’m going to break the mould, saith the Lord, on many of your lives and many of your ministries. And even that which was known, the way that you operated in days gone by ‑ oh, many shall rub their eyes and shall look and say, “Is this the same person that we used to know?”
Oh, for there’s a fire on the inside of them. For this is the day of the fire and the glory of God coming unto His Church. Rise up this day in great boldness. Rise up this day and be filled afresh with the new wine of the Holy Ghost. Rise up this day. . . .
Kenneth Copeland then addressed Rodney, with gestures, while speaking in tongues. Still facing Kenneth Copeland, Rodney answered him in tongues with apparent meaning. Kenneth Copeland then laughed in response. In return, Rodney then laughed.
While ministering to someone Rodney Howard‑Browne said: “For there’s a new dimension coming to your ministry and yes, you’ve known this, yes, you’ve hungered for it, and you’ve said, ‘Oh, God’. But the Lord would say to you this night, ‘Yes, even in this nation.’ For you have concentrated on the third world. But this nation shall see through thy ministry a great outpouring of the Spirit, for this is the day, saith the Lord. And you shall run [tongues]. And some have thought, ‘What’s he going to do next?’ They’re not going to know. Oh, they’re even going to be more confused [tongues].”
Kenneth Copeland spoke in tongues, and Rodney then said, “For as you’ve preached my word, even the miracles, the signs and the wonders that you’ve seen ‑ that happened ‑ are taking place in other nations ‑ shall begin to take place, and the great dimension of the supernatural ‑ that great dimension of the Spirit that you’ve hungered and cried for ‑ yes, even this night, is your portion.”
Later, Kenneth Copeland laid his hands upon Rodney Howard‑Browne, who fell to the floor. Kenneth Copeland then knelt down, laid his hands upon Rodney and prophesied over him:
The greater realm that you’ve been seeing all evening long is the stage set before you that I’ve called you to walk in, and this is only the beginning. It is only the start of the outpouring that has already begun of the former and the latter rain. Keep yourself prepared. Keep yourself in that cleft of the rock and the good presence of the Holy Spirit will come in ways that you know not of at this time [tongues]. The spirit that has been sent of the devil to hinder and to hurt and to hold you back has been broken and he will not hinder you any more.
In February of 1993, Karl Strader, pastor of Carpenter’s Home Church in Lakeland, Florida, and his wife, Joyce, were in Hawaii for a Worship ’93 conference, where Norvel Hayes prophesied that a tremendous great wind of the Spirit was about to come to them. Joyce Strader wrote in Ministries Today (July/August 1993, p. 38), “We arrived home Saturday night. That Sunday morning Carpenter’s Home Church began a planned one‑week series of meetings with South African evangelist Rodney Howard‑Browne. But God had a surprise for us. The meetings went on for four weeks ‑ with thousands flocking to the church to see and taste the new move of God. . . . But God never intended for it to last only a week. Full‑blown revival has come to Central Florida and Carpenter’s Home Church.”
During the first few months of 1993, Rodney Howard‑Browne spent a total of thirteen weeks at that church, and Christian leaders from many parts of the United States, including Richard Roberts, chancellor of Oral Roberts University, came to the meetings to observe and participate, and minister in the new anointing. Charisma (Aug 1994, p. 24), stated that people flew in for these meetings from Africa, Great Britain, and Argentina to see what was happening.
Among the people deeply touched by Rodney’s meetings at Karl Strader’s church in early 1993 was an Episcopal priest, Bud Williams (Hugh E. Williams III), who had pioneered Christ the King Episcopal church in Lakeland, Florida as an outreach from another parish beginning in 1984. His church was not far from the Carpenter’s Home Church, and his keyboardist played Sunday evenings at that Church. While Rodney was there, Bud’s keyboardist called him up during an evening service and said, “Turn on your radio, you’ve got to hear this!” He did so, and he heard people laughing. There was a lot of dead air time, which was very unusual, since this particular station would normally return to its regularly scheduled programming at the slightest indication of slack time.
Bud’s wife, Fran, soon went to one of the meetings, but when he asked her about it, she said the Rodney made fun of “those who wear their collars backwards, and who wear those robes and call themselves father but look like mother.” This was not particularly endearing to him as an Episcopal priest, but he was still curious as to why Rodney was having meetings almost every day of the week for several weeks running, so he decided to check into it further. He attended two 10:00 am meetings, and left at about 12:00 or 12:30, while the meetings were still in progress.
He had heard various small groups of people laughing, but other than that, he did not feel that there was anything particularly unusual about the meetings. But then, on a Sunday evening, Andrea, a young woman from Bud’s church, came to his office at 7:15 and invited him to the revival. So he went, and there were 7,000 present. Hoping that he would not be recognized, he wore street clothes and sat in the back. Rodney Howard‑Browne began walking around a bit, and would stop and stare at people for long periods of time. Then he would tell them to go out into the aisle, and he would say “filled,” and they would fall down under the power of the Spirit.
Before long, Rodney began wandering toward him. Bud later said that at this point, he was undergoing a struggle, and his head was arguing with his heart. His head was saying to Rodney, “Surely you’re not coming any further ‑ stay away from here,” but in his heart he was saying, “I wish he’d pray for me.” Then Rodney went over to the back and stared at him for a long time. Soon, he pointed to Bud and Andrea, and to two people in back of them, and said to the ushers, “Those four, bring them out here.” He said, “filled,” and they fell to the floor. Bud began laughing uncontrollably for twenty minutes, and eventually managed to crawl on his hands and knees back to his seat. Although he wasn’t sure at the time what had happened, he later realized that God had opened up his shell.
The Lord soon changed the direction of his ministry from parish priest to evangelist, despite the fact that “there’s not exactly a high demand for evangelists in the Episcopal church.” Yet, within days he was he was asked to speak at churches he had never known by people whom he hadn’t met, and almost immediately, he was spreading the revival throughout the world. According to Charisma (August, 1994, p. 23), within a year he had spoken before 100,000 people at 120 meetings in twenty different cities.
As a result of his meetings in Lakeland, Florida at the Carpenter’s Home Church, Rodney Howard‑Browne was invited to Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and to Oral Roberts University, also in Tulsa, where Oral Roberts spoke to Rodney Howard‑Browne as follows:
When my son Richard went down to Lakeland where you had preached . . . when he got in the building [Carpenter’s Home Church], the Spirit of the Lord fell on him and he couldn’t preach. He fell down under the power of God and he laughed and he laughed and we put it on our Sunday morning . . . television program two Sundays in a row. And there’s been more talk over those two half hours than we’ve had in months and months. People have been laughing all over America through those two programs that Richard made while he was there . . . and my wife and I sat there and we watched and we laughed and we cried.
I guess I’m the most moved tonight because God is in the now. . . . And the stream is always flowing. It ebbs and it tides. And every so often He says, “It’s time for another level of my move.” And He lays His hand on someone that nobody thought about. None of us were ever known by people. Nobody would have selected us. But the King of kings and Lord of lords knows something we don’t know. . . . And my brother, the Lord brought me here tonight. I’ve never met you in the flesh. I was in South Africa twice in Wembley Stadium, when 30,000 came a night and your family was there but you weren’t born at that time. I believe you said your brother was saved in that meeting but I just want you to know that I know who you are. [He lays a hand on his shoulder and begins to speak in tongues.] Raised up from a new kind of seed. With a new kind of revelation that those in the Spirit will know what it is. Those who are not in the Spirit and will never get in it will not know, so we cannot blame them. Yet a fresh wave. It’s not something you’re doing.
Oral Roberts then fell under the power of the Holy Spirit.
Richard Roberts, Oral’s son, then said, “Brother Rodney, this has been the hardest summer of my life. . . . It was several weeks before I was to go [to Lakeland]. And brother Strader had said, ‘Richard when you come, everyone who has preached in my church since brother Rodney was here has been filled with a fresh baptism of joy.’ [I said,] ‘Well, let it happen to me.’ Because, having taken on forty million dollars of debt [Richard Roberts begins to laugh. Everybody laughs.] . . .
That fresh baptism hit me at Lakeland. I was not prepared. But it has stayed on me. I was flying home, reading a book on an airplane and just began to laugh uncontrollably. The flight attendant thought there was something wrong. The people around me thought there was something wrong. [Laughter.] And I’ve been in business meetings and someone would come and say, ‘Here’s something and we don’t have the money to pay for it,’ and I would just fall and laugh. [Laughter.] . . . God by His Spirit spoke to me and said, ‘The same way that you’re laughing here you’re going to laugh while I pay off the forty million dollar debt.’”
Oral Roberts University then cancelled classes for two days in favour of Rodney Howard‑Browne’s meetings. At the close of the first meeting, 4,000 students and faculty lined up throughout the hallways and out onto the school’s lawn. “Most of them ended up on the ground after Howard‑Browne touched them,” Charisma reported.
Charles and Frances Hunter
At one point during the meetings at the Carpenters Home Church, Karl Strader had telephoned Charles and Frances Hunter, the well‑known Christian authors based at John Osteen’s church in Houston, Texas, to tell them what was happening. They then contacted Marilyn Hickey to ask her about it. In their book on the revival, Holy Laughter (Kingwood, Texas: Hunter Books, 1994), p. 36, Frances Hunter wrote, “I had never heard Marilyn so excited! She shared more experiences of what had happened during Rodney Howard‑Browne’s meetings, not only in Florida but in Denver, as well. Not only did this happen to her, but it affected her daughter, Sarah, too! As a matter of fact they spent the night before Sarah’s wedding at Rodney’s meeting, laughing!”
Charles and Frances Hunter came into contact with the revival when they went to Rodney Howard‑Browne’s winter camp meeting in Lakeland, Florida, in December of 1993, where they “saw demonstrations of power with Rodney just pointing at people who would then fall under the power of God” (p. 38). The Hunters then went to Wayne Jackson’s church, Great Faith Ministries in Detroit, Michigan, where some of the same manifestations started to break forth as a result of their ministry (pp. 40‑50).
In spring of 1994, the Hunters brought the revival to London, England (pp. 51‑57). The London meetings were held a pentecostal church pastored by Colin Dye, Kensington Temple, one of the largest churches in Great Britain, where more than 116 nations were represented. There was a group of twenty from Ireland who were anxious to bring the anointing to Ireland (p. 54). “Scottish people were there, and they took this back to their nation. Representatives from other countries were also there, and they laughingly but seriously took this back to Switzerland and Germany” (p. 55). “By Easter Sunday it was impossible to get all the people into the church. . . . It was snowing outside and we were told they had bolted the doors to keep the people out who were trying to break down the doors to get into this great move of God” (ibid).
Soon afterward, the Hunters went to the Hague and Rotterdam in Holland (pp. 57‑59), where thirty visitors from Belgium then brought the revival from Rotterdam back to their own country (p. 59).
Ray Sell, who died suddenly of a blood disease in December of 1994, was one of the revival’s most powerful evangelists. During May and June of 1994, incredible things happened in western New York State as a result of his ministry. According to some reports, in May, while Ray Sell was ministering at Elim Bible Institute in Lima, NY, the visible shekinah glory of the Lord became manifest.
Ray had been touched by the revival after visiting Rodney Howard‑Browne’s meetings at Emmanuel Christian Church in Spring Hill, Florida in February of 1993. Although he was pastor of another church, he spent some time as a ‘catcher’ for Rodney while he was in Florida. He resigned his church and continued to attend Emmanuel before beginning his itinerant ministry as a evangelist the following year.
Early openings in 1994 led him to Michigan. Gerald Tricket of the Elim Missionary Assemblies attended Ray’s meetings there, and felt freshly anointed. Gerald therefore invited him to his church north of Detroit, and a cloudburst of blessings followed there as well. Excited about what was happening, Gerald called another associate, Ron Burgio, in Buffalo, and insisted he come to the meetings. In Buffalo there was another glorious encounter in the Lord, and the pastor of Elim Gospel Church in Lima was urged to attend, and he was revolutionized. …
Carlton and Elizabeth Spencer arrived at Elim for Ray Sell’s meetings there in the beginning of May. Carlton Spencer wrote [to Richard & Kathryn Riss, December 10, 1994] “Never have we had so many come and stay so late ‑ from 7:30 pm to 2:00 am was not uncommon. God was there and lives were revolutionized! Elim Fellowship’s Annual Pastor’s Conference convened immediately after the Sell meetings. Ray stayed on, ministering twice, I believe. But the pastors who had already had a fresh encounter with the Lord followed up laying hands on many ‑ and the overflow continued. This made many openings for Ray in New York, PA and Ontario, as far as Ottawa, and blessing followed.”
One of the people to attend Ray Sell’s meetings at Love Joy Gospel Church in Buffalo, New York, Ted Pawlicki, wrote on May 17, “The meetings are continuing and are quite extraordinary. People come up for prayer and often fall down, sometimes laughing. I have been to a number of these meetings and I feel that the Lord is really in them. A lot of lives are being changed.”
The following day, he wrote, “Ray Sell . . does distribute Rodney’s books. However, the practices of falling down, laughing, etc., have continued in the Church after this fellow has left. . . . The whole thing is very new to me. The first meeting of this kind was only a month ago. . . . When I first saw this stuff, I was enormously sceptical. Nonetheless, I cannot deny the fact that I have sampled the first fruits of these events and found them quite sweet and wholesome. I can see evidence of the Holy Spirit working (both in my own life and in the lives of those around me) through these meetings and manifestations.”
Mona And Paul Johnian
In the June 1994 issue of Charisma (pp. 54‑58), there was an article by Steven Smith about the spread of the revival to the Christian Teaching and Worship Centre (CTWC) in Woburn, a suburb of Boston. The 450‑member church is pastored by Mona Johnian and her husband Paul. Her book, Fresh Anointing (South Plainfield, NJ: Bridge Publishing, 1994), provides 132 pages of descriptions of the new revival from her perspective.
According to Charisma, the revival broke out in their church after they attended revival meetings led by Rodney Howard‑Browne in Jekyll Island Georgia, in November of 1993. At first, Mona was not impressed by the various phenomena she observed there, but she was surprised that her own pastor, Bill Ligon of Brunswick, Georgia, fell to the floor when Rodney Howard‑Browne laid his hands upon him. Bill is the epitome of dignity, a man totally under control, she said. The first chapter of her book describes a meeting at her church in which revival broke out while Bill Ligon was there as a guest minister. From the Johnians’ church, the revival spread to other churches, including Bath Baptist Church of Bath, Maine, pastored by Greg Foster.
In a video entitled Revival, produced in his church in August of 1994, Paul Johnian said, “We cannot refute the testimony of the Church. . . . What is taking place here is not an accident. It’s not birthed by man. It’s by the Spirit of God. . . . The last week in October of 1993, Mona and I went down to Georgia. We belong to a Fellowship of Charismatic and Christian Ministries International, and we went down there for the annual conference. And hands were laid on us. And we were anointed. And I’m just going to be completely honest with you. What I witnessed there in the beginning I did not even understand. I concluded that what was taking place was not of God . . . because there was too much confusion. . . . I saw something that I could not comprehend with my finite understanding. And it was only when I searched the Scriptures and asked God to show me and to reveal truth to me that I saw that what was taking place in the Body of Christ was a sovereign move of the Almighty. And I, for one, wanted to humble myself and be a part of the sovereign move of the Almighty. And I came back. I really didn’t sense any change within me. But I came back just believing God that He was going to be doing something different in our congregation.”
Jerry Gaffney, an itinerant evangelist from the peninsula area of northern Washington, began witnessing unusual signs of revival in the various churches in his area beginning at his home church, Westgate Chapel in Edmonds, part of the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, on October 23, 1993. This church came into continuous revival on February 11, 1994, when all but four in the congregation fell to the floor under the power of God. Prior to this, he had spent over a year and a half praying between forty or fifty hours every week.
In late February, Jerry and his pastor went to New York City and Washington D.C. to visit various people in ministry, including Jim Simbla, David Wilkerson, and Rodney Howard‑Browne. He said that when he was at the Rodney Howard‑Browne meetings at a Church of God in Washington D.C. on February 28, 1994, that the Lord seems to have put this mantle upon him for the spreading of revival in an unusual way.
In March, after he returned to his home church in the state of Washington, in a series of three services held on one day, 118 people came to Christ and a lady with a broken back was healed.
The following Sunday, Jerry spoke at a Four‑Square church, where thirty people ran forward for prayer and twenty fell under the power of God. Among those who ended up running forward for prayer was a young man who had been brought there against his will by his parents. At the time, he was still high on heroin. Meetings were held there twice daily, six days a week, for another 26 weeks, beginning April 10, 1994. There were many testimonies of healings and of people experiencing the work of God in their lives.
Soon afterward, meetings were held at the Lighthouse Assembly of God in Port Angeles for three weeks, than at Sequim, Forks, Bremerton, Blaine, Silverdale, Ocean Shores, and Central Park. The meetings at Sequim had to move from the Four‑Square church to the Assemblies of God church after the first week due to the crowds. The meetings at Sequim lasted four weeks.
Then, at a Friday meeting in Forks, one‑third of the entire town showed up, and someone was healed of a dislocated shoulder. After two weeks at Forks, he went to Bremerton, where people would show up at 5:00 for services starting at 7:00. People could not wait for the altar call. During the meeting they would say, “Do I have to wait to get saved?” They wanted to respond to the altar call hours before it was going to be given. In one case, a lady came running down with a teenaged child, wanting to get saved.
Jerry spent five weeks in Blaine, Washington after leaving Bremerton, then went to Silverdale for another five weeks, where five people ran down to the front of the church in order to be saved. After a two‑week holiday, Jerry went to Ocean Shores for four weeks, and Central Park for the first four weeks of the new year. Then, for the next six weeks he was in Sequim, where there were eight weddings in one meeting.
One of his most unusual practices is that he performs wedding ceremonies on the spot for people who repent of fornication, in order to prevent them from falling back into sin. He said that at an Easter service, they sang two songs, baptized twenty people (many of whom were on drugs, and who began falling out under the power when they were being baptized), held a wedding for several people, had a sermon, sang songs, took up an offering, then had a reception for the wedding.
When he held meetings in Marysville, California, one of the people present said that next to the day that he received his salvation, it was the holiest day in his life because there was such an intensity of the presence of God. One of the most conservative people in the church was shaking under the power of God.
Present at these meetings were Roy and Anne Collins, who were at Branham meetings and Kathryn Kuhlman meetings years ago. They cried and cried, and said, “It’s starting all over again.”
In his meetings, between fifty and sixty percent of those who come to Christ have typically continued in the faith. John Wilcox, who attended one of Jerry Gaffney’s meetings at Lighthouse Assembly of God in Port Angeles, remarked that “The power of God to save and heal was evident, and many were slain in the Spirit. Jerry is a humble man, and this move of God through him is very evidently a sovereign one ‑ there is obviously no fakery or self‑glorification [involved].”
The Vineyard Churches
In 1988, John White wrote When The Spirit Comes With Power, dealing with revival and its relationship to strange behavioural manifestations, including falling to the ground, trembling, and crying out. The subject matter of this book became very timely for the revival, and it was in a sense, prophetic, since it contained a wealth of references to John Wimber and the Vineyard movement.
According to John Wimber (“Vineyard Reflections”, May/June 1994, p. 1), in September of 1976, Bob Fulton, Carol Wimber, Carl Tuttle and a few other people, began to assemble at Carl Tuttle’s sister’s home for prayer, worship, and seeking the Lord. He wrote that by the time he became involved several months later, “the Spirit of God was already moving powerfully.” During the spring of 1977, this developed into the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Anaheim, which within seventeen years had become a mother church to over 550 Vineyard churches worldwide. During those years, VCF Anaheim had what John Wimber describes as “an ongoing interaction with the Holy Spirit in which we’d have ebbs and flows” (ibid, p. 2).
After a bout with cancer in 1993, Wimber said that by October of that year, the Lord had spoken to him seventeen times that this would be a “season of new beginnings” for the Vineyard churches. He brought this message of new beginning to a Vineyard Board meeting in November of 1993 at Palm Springs. At the same meeting, John Arnott, a regional overseer of Vineyard Churches in Ontario, Canada, learned from Happy Leman, Midwest Regional Overseer, how the Holy Spirit had recently powerfully renewed and refreshed Randy Clark (VCF St. Louis) in a meeting conducted by evangelist Rodney Howard‑Browne in Tulsa, Oklahoma (ibid, p. 3). Randy began to witness similar outpourings in his home church and elsewhere, and John Arnott invited him to Toronto [or, more specifically, to Mississauga, just outside of Toronto] to minister in his church. These meetings began on January 20, 1994, and “four days of meetings turned into . . . months of almost nightly meetings in numerous locations in Ontario. It has since poured out through those who have visited there into similar renewal meetings all over the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and even Europe” (ibid).
According to Charisma (June 1994, p. 53), within weeks of the meetings that began on January 20, people were coming from New York City, Dallas, Fort Wayne, and New Orleans, and returning to their own churches to hold protracted meetings in their own areas.
The March 15, 1994 issue of Christian Week, a newspaper published bi‑weekly in Winnipeg, Manitoba, featured the revival on its front page in an article entitled “Holy Laughter Lifting Spirits,” by Doug Koop, who wrote, “Since the outbreak of joy began in mid‑January, the Airport Vineyard has been holding services six nights a week, some in rented facilities to accommodate crowds of up to a thousand people. In mid‑February they reported a nightly average attendance of 800. . . . The phenomenon has spread throughout southern Ontario and more meetings were being held in cities including Cambridge (a reported average nightly attendance of 600), Stratford (300), Barrie (250) and Hamilton (250).”
Randy Clark said that he couldn’t explain his sudden involvement as a leader in a new outpouring of God’s Spirit, stating that he had been “relatively unsuccessful in 23 years of ministry.” However, “a major change took place in his life last summer when he attended services led by South Africa‑born Pentecostal evangelist Rodney Howard‑Browne,” According to the article, many church leaders were beginning to experience “supernatural joy” as a result of attending weekly meetings in Toronto for Baptist, Presbyterian, Reformed, Pentecostal, Anglican, and United Church pastors. “Clark has also accepted several invitations to speak to pastors and lay leaders in denominational settings ‑ notably with both Convention and Fellowship Baptist groups.”
In June of 1994, Daina Doucet of Toronto reported in Charisma (pp. 52‑53) that the movement had spread to Presbyterians, Nazarenes, Pentecostals, Mennonite Brethren, Anglicans, and leaders of the United Church of Canada, all of whom were attending nightly meetings at the Airport Vineyard Christian Fellowship. Guy Chevreau, a pastor affiliated with the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec, was quoted to the effect that the revival is “crossing denominations, and denominational barriers are coming down. . . . What we’re talking about here is God’s manifest presence, such that He is seen, felt and experienced and folks’ lives are getting changed.”
John Arnott has described it is as a “nameless, faceless revival. . . . It’s basically people no one has ever heard of suddenly ministering powerfully in the Lord” (ibid).
At the “Catch The Fire” Conference in Toronto on October 13, 1994, Randy Clark said that by 1986, a period of dryness, smugness, and self‑sufficiency had begun in Vineyard Churches. Although there was a certain ritual, or liturgy, there was really no expectation that God would come into the midst of all of it. It was a time of discouragement and disillusionment. At his church, there had been only three healings of terminal illnesses over a period of eight years. He began taking courses from various institutes of church growth. In his head he knew that God could show up, but he didn’t really expect that it would happen. He “felt empty, powerless and so little anointed. . . . Emotionally, spiritually and physically I knew I was burning out.” By August of 1993, he was close to a breakdown. He would shake whenever there was criticism of his church, or of what he was doing.
While he was still undergoing this desert experience, Randy became discouraged and looked at the success of another pastor who was a friend of his, Steve Sjogren. He began to realize that he would have to do things differently. He went to his church leaders and said that he wanted to go back and start over, and make a sharp turn in how things were being done.
It was at this point that Randy received an unexpected phone call at midnight from a friend of his, Jeff McClusky, who had the gift of discernment. He asked him, “How are you doing?” and “How is your church doing?” To put up a good front, Randy said that things were fine, but Jeff began talking about some of his own problems. He had been on the verge of suicide. He had once known the glory of God, and it was gone. Then, he received a phone call from a friend named Donny who asked him, “Jeff, what happened to you at about 3:00 am?” He had been led to pray for him just as he was about ready to commit suicide. Soon afterward, Jeff’s aunt, Mary Ellen Hutchins called, and said that she was getting tired of being awakened at 3:00 am to pray for him.
After Jeff recounted some of these things, Randy admitted that things really were not going well, and that he was pretty low. Then Jeff told Randy that he had just returned from a conference led by Rodney Howard‑Browne. “You’ve got to go hear this guy.” He talked to him for hours about how he had been spiritually revived at these meetings, and about how people were being refreshed and re‑filled.
But to Randy’s disappointment, the next set of meetings to be held by Rodney Howard‑Browne would be among the Word of Faith people, at Kenneth Hagin Jr’s Rhema Bible Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This was the one group that Randy opposed ‑ the name‑it‑claim‑it people. He asked the Lord if he could wait a week before going to Rodney’s meetings, but he said, “the Lord spoke to me immediately, and said, ‘You have a denominational spirit. How badly do you want to be touched afresh?’”
In August of 1993, Randy and his associate pastor, Bill Mares, went to the meetings at Rhema. There, at one of the meetings, Randy heard a woman laughing. “She’s in the flesh,“ he thought. But then, as if to answer his thoughts, Rodney said, “There are others of you, who, if you get upset, that’s your flesh!” Then, there was a blind three‑year‑old who fell down under the power of God. This convinced Randy that this was not the work of man, since it was clear that she was not imitating everyone else.
Bill was filled with the Spirit, and fell down under the power of God. Rodney was saying, “My job is to make you thirsty for God.”
At the third meeting that they attended, Randy fell under the power when Rodney prayed for him. In 1984 in the Baptist church and then in 1989 at the Vineyard, he had been filled, but with shaking. But this time, there was no shaking, and this caused Randy to doubt that the experience was real. He thought, “I’m weak minded. I’m just falling under suggestion.” But when he tried to get up, he found that he was unable to do so. It was as though he was pinned to the floor. He had been in a line of people who had been filled, and “two bodies down from me, there was somebody oinking.” This caused Randy to start laughing, and he couldn’t stop. After he finally got up, he got more and more drunk in the Spirit. It was a one mile walk to his car, and he walked the whole way laughing.
At a later meeting that week, Rodney announced that on the following day he would pray individually for all 4500 people. On that day, Randy got in line. There was a very long wait, but finally Rodney came by, saying “filled, filled, filled,” and Randy went down for twenty minutes. But then, Rodney was saying, You don’t get drunk on a sip. So Randy went to another part of the building, took his glasses off to disguise himself, and he went down again. Then he put his glasses back on, and went to another part of the building, bowing his head to avoid recognition. He went down a third time. But there was no shaking, and no feeling of electricity. He was afraid to get in line again, yet he felt a need to learn. Also, he was hungry, because he had been fasting for two weeks. He had said to God that he would not eat anything until He had received a touch from Him.
Rodney’s brother, Basil, saw Randy watching, and asked him, “Do you want to get in line?” Randy answered, “I’ve already been up three times.” Basil said, “That’s all right, you look hungry,” so Randy went yet again to be filled. When he later stood up, he realised that, suddenly, he was emotionally healthy for the first time. Because of this, he realised that God was working, even though he wasn’t experiencing any shaking.
Bill then said to him, “I can’t wait until we get home and this happens in our church!” Randy answered, “They’re not ready.” Bill said, “I can’t wait that long.” Randy pulled rank and said, “I’m the senior pastor.” But then God pulled rank and said to Randy, “I’m God.”
So, the first Sunday back at the church, Bill and Randy testified as to what happened. Now, in their church, they had never had a manifestation of falling out under the power of God. But a woman fell, and laughed all the way through 45 minutes of worship. At the end of the service, they asked if anybody would like to be prayed for, and many people rushed forward. At the front there was a line of people that stretched wall to wall. Every single person fell down as Randy touched them.
There was one university student who was sceptical. He went up to take communion, and was unable to move. He was frozen, as though his feet were set in concrete. Randy was coming toward him to pray for him, but Daryl said, “I don’t want you to pray for me. I don’t think this is real.” Randy asked, “Then why are you up here?” He said, “I can’t move.” Randy said, “You don’t think this is real, yet you can’t move?” Randy prayed for him, and he was falling further and further backward. “Randy, I can’t stand up.” “Then why don’t you lay down?” “Can I?” “Yes!” He lay down, and got stuck and couldn’t get up, and was healed of the emotional wounds that had resulted from sexual molestation. From that time onward, phenomena of this type began happening every Sunday at Randy’s church.
Then, after a meeting at a Regional Meeting where all except one person fell under the power of the Spirit, John Arnott called Randy and asked him to come to minister at the Toronto Airport Vineyard. He wanted Randy to preach four times, and Randy said that he was only prepared to preach twice, but that his assistant minister [Gary Shelton, Randy’s worship leader] could preach at the other two meetings. “Do you think God will come?” “I hope so,” Randy answered. This was the case even though a woman in Randy’s church [Anni Shelton, Gary’s wife] had had a vision [two weeks previously] of a map of Canada, and of the power of God going forth from there over a radius of 360 degrees.
Randy’s tentative feeling was due to the fact that his natural father had been unreliable. “You never knew whether or not he would show up due to [his] work.” Without realizing that he was doing this, Randy had begun to project this behaviour onto God. At the meetings that Randy was going to hold in Toronto, John Arnott wanted to introduce the prophetic, and Randy’s reaction was “Oh God, no!” Randy did not like what was going on at places like Mike Bickle’s church, and didn’t know how to straighten out anything of this kind.
But then, on January 19, a Baptist friend of Randy’s, Richard Holcomb of Ingram, Texas, called him on the telephone with a clear word of the Lord: “Test me now. Test me now. Do not be afraid. I will back you up. Do not become anxious because when you become anxious you cannot receive me.” Randy had trusted this fellow because he always seemed to know exactly when Randy was in financial need, and on two occasions, sent him exactly the amount he needed at the time that he needed it. Without this phone call, Randy would probably never have had a central role in the Toronto Revival.
In the past, Randy had been afraid at times to step out to minister, not knowing whether God would be with him. But from this time forward, Randy Clark has had confidence that God would work through him whenever he would minister.
Argentina as a Prelude to the “Toronto Blessing”
Commenting on a trip that he had made to Argentina in November of 1993, John Arnott said [in a conversation with Richard Riss at “Catch the Fire” in October of 1994] that he was “impressed by the unity of the church held together by the glue of revival.” He said that some of those associated with the revival included Claudio Freidzon, Hector Giminez, Carlos Annacondia, and Omar Cabrera.
“Carlos is a wealthy businessman (hardware manufacturer) who gave up everything to be a good steward for the Lord. He had a crusade in Buenos Aires that filled up the stadium. The goals are to take the city (Buenos Aires) for God and to take the nation for God. The sheep‑stealing dynamic is absent there ‑ there are too many converts ‑ they don’t know what to do with all of them.”
The Arnotts were also impressed by the manifestation of the power and presence of the Lord in Argentina. “In La Plata, near Buenos Aires, there is a maximum security prison for 4000 inmates. This prison was out of control, and basically run by gangs within the prison. But permission was given to hold meetings there. They had pastors who were given responsibility over the converts. This was under the auspices of Carlos Annacondia.
“Over a period of five years, a Christian floor developed in the prison, of eight hundred people. This floor had round the clock prayer meetings, and 180 people were always praying at any given time, waiting before the Lord, and asking God to have mercy. Over the course of 5 years, 600 men completed their sentences, and only one was later re‑arrested. Other prisoners always want to go to the Christian floor of the prison because it is safe and clean. They have corking on the bars to make things more comfortable. So others get saved as a result of going to the Christian floor. When they think they are ready, the prisoners apply to be transferred to another prison, and then start some of the same things in other prisons.”
The Arnotts said that when they arrived, five years after this started, they were met with a wave of people singing in Spanish, “I’m free”, right in the prison. “We came to bless them and they prayed for us and we were all out on the floor in the prison,” John said. Carol added, “And they made us gifts, hand‑made crafts.” She was really touched by this. “And Cindy Jacobs of Colorado Springs has these people praying for her,” John said.
The third annual Harvest Evangelism International Institute was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 4‑13, 1993. In addition to John and Carol Arnott, about 100 others from North America attended, including C. Peter Wagner and Cindy Jacobs.
According to Gerald Steingard, who was also present, all of these people were completely ‘drunken’ in the Spirit at certain times during the conference [conversation with Richard Riss, October 8, 1995].
Most of the evenings of this conference involved attending Hector Giminez’s church, where, according to John Arnott, Claudio Friedzon was ministering [John Arnott to Richard Riss, October 15, 1995].
In a brochure advertising this event, Ed Silvoso wrote, “What is so unique about Argentina that warrants a trip to South America? For one thing, God is at work there in an amazing and incomparable way. Have you ever read a book about revival and felt the intense desire to be there? Well, in our time, Argentina is such a place. Come and experience the hand of God as you visit churches that hold services every day of the week.”
In the same brochure, C. Peter Wagner wrote,
Like a burning, dry tinder, the Spirit of God has ignited an extraordinary spiritual bonfire in Argentina over the last ten years. From the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) to breathtaking Iguazu Falls in the northeast, the flames of revival have blazed through Argentina and beyond, making the country one of the flashpoints of church growth in the world today. . . .
Argentine evangelist Carlos Annacondia began his crusade ministry in 1982, the year of Argentina’s defeat in the Malvinas, just as the Spirit of God began to spark spiritual renewal. Since then, over a million and a half people have made public commitments to Christ during the course of Annacondia’s ministry.
Hector Giminez was a drug addicted criminal when God called him into the Kingdom. He began ministering to troubled youth; and within a year, was leading a congregation of 1,000. Since 1986 his church in downtown Buenos Aires has exploded in size to over 120,000 members, making it the third largest church in the world.
The world’s fourth largest church is also Argentina. Omar Cabrera and his wife Marfa began their ministry during the tough years of the 1970s. Long before most Argentine pastors, they began experiencing God’s blessing as they learned the power of prayer to liberate people from sin, sickness, and the forces of evil. Now their church, centred in Santa Fe, ministers to 90,000 members in 120 cities.
The revival that began in the early 1980s has touched virtually every evangelical denomination. . . .
The stirring of revival have drawn Argentine Christians into unprecedented forms of unity. ACIERA, the national association of evangelical Christian churches, and the monthly evangelical tabloid El Puente (The Bridge) has helped believers focus on common goals.
On June 29, 1994, in Rockville Centre, L.I., John Arnott spoke on many of the different origins of the outpouring that came to be known as the “Toronto Blessing”. He and his wife, Carol, had spent much of 1993 and the beginning of January 1994 seeking the Lord for a fresh anointing. They spent all of their mornings with Him.
They had been powerfully impacted many years previously by Kathryn Kuhlman, and then more recently, by John Wimber, who really taught us that the anointing was available for everyone and in the context of team ministry things could be much improved [John Arnott to Richard Riss, Sept. 19, 1994]. The Arnotts were friends of Benny Hinn, who also had an impact upon them. But these things tended to be mountain‑top experiences, and they wanted something from God that would last.
Before the current outpouring, their church, the Airport Vineyard, had been in a hospital mode, where there was healing and deliverance, but in the final analysis, it seemed that all of the needs were magnified, and the Lord was minimized. Then, they experienced a turnaround about a year before the outpouring, when they went to Mapleleaf Gardens in Toronto, where Benny Hinn was ministering. In those meetings, about twenty people in wheelchairs were healed. Backstage, Benny Hinn ministered to them, and Carol became really drunk in the Spirit and filled. Later, they went to further Benny Hinn meetings and to Rodney
Howard‑Browne meetings in Fort Worth. However, he said this was not really what he was looking for ‑ he wanted healing and salvation more than people laughing and falling to the floor.
But then, in late 1993, they went to Argentina to some meetings conducted by Claudio Freidzon. “Do you want it?” Claudio asked. “Oh, yes,” they said. “Take it!” he answered, and at that time it seemed that there was just a click of faith. As a result of this, the Arnotts decided to start a monthly healing meeting at their own church in Toronto. The first was scheduled for January 30, 1994.
Then, in Palm Springs, Randy Clark had really blessed them at a Regional Meeting, so John Arnott invited him to Toronto for a series of four meetings beginning January 20. But “the Lord fell on us powerfully there,” and the meetings continued indefinitely. “It was wonderful. Too good to be true.” On Sunday, the last scheduled day of meetings, they told Randy not to go home. They offered to send some people to his pulpit at home and to fly his family to Toronto, and he accepted. “Everybody catches it if they soak in it, but we’re still working under Randy’s anointing,” John said.
After that time, they went to many places, including Hungary for two and a half weeks. He said that it has proven to be highly contagious and transferable, and has spread to Switzerland, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, England, and Scotland, as well as most major cities in the United States and Canada. Many pastors visited Toronto. These were people who were very close to saying forget it and they’ve been refreshed and have brought this back to their own home churches.
The Arnotts had once been at a meeting in which the speaker, Paul Cain, said he had a word for “a John and Carol from Canada.” In this situation, there was a tremendous presence of God, and John Arnott said that he thought, “Oh, God, you’ve found me.” But through this word he realized that his mind had been offended by the things of the Spirit. They had been making general rules at their church which were hindering the Spirit of God from moving. These rules were their attempt to keep things tidy and presentable. He said to the Lord, “If ever You come again [in power at our church], I will not put my hand to it.”
Speaking of the Airport Vineyard in Toronto, John Arnott said, “When some of these things first came to our church, it sort of shut down our office. For the first three days, our receptionist could not talk. Then, after that, she could only speak in tongues. But she got so filled, the joy of the Lord just transformed her and her husband John, our sound man, and their kids. He just got so drunk, drunk, drunk. . . . We’ve been having a party now for 160 days [as of June 29]. In the story of the prodigal son, the very best party of all is right there in the father’s house. The angels party whenever one sinner repents, and there are thousands coming to Jesus every day throughout the world. The real joy comes in anticipation of the wedding of the bride and the bridegroom.”
Worldwide Effects of the Vineyard Revival
On July 6, 1994, the Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper, carried an article on the revival in Toronto by Julie Smyth, entitled “Pilgrims Worshipping on a Different Plane,” which points out that the Airport Vineyard is in an unimpressive location, at a “nondescript, flat industrial plaza”, yet “every day, 100 to 200 Christians from a variety of denominations fly to Toronto from as far away as Japan and Australia on a pilgrimage to the church near the end of one of the airport runways.” It states that people are packing into this 400‑seat church night after night, “breaking into uncontrollable laughter, shaking, crying, falling to the ground and roaring like lions.” According to this article, when the revival first spread to the Airport Vineyard, the ministry staff had to rent a banquet hall to accommodate the crowds, approaching one thousand people per night. Since then, they have been coming from Japan, Australia, South Africa, and many parts of Europe, especially England and Scotland.
The National & International Religion Report (July 11, 1994) reported that “An extraordinary phenomenon has rippled across Argentina, Canada, Britain, the United States, South Africa, and India. Consistent reports describe a state similar to drunkenness, including shaking with laughter, crying, slipping into a trance, and falling to the floor. Repentance, warm feelings of love and peace, the ‘return of prodigals,’ and a number of salvations also have been reported. . . . The excitement started Jan. 20 for a small church in Mississauga, Canada, near Toronto. . . . Also instrumental in bringing renewal and ministering at the Toronto church was Arnott’s friend, Vineyard pastor Randy Clark. . . . ‘We don’t know why God has picked our dumb little church,’ Jeremy Sinnott, one of the Airport Vineyard’s pastors, told The Sunday Telegraph of London. . . . As reports of miraculous manifestations spread, pilgrims from the city’s suburbs, the United States, Europe, Australia, Singapore, and Hong King swarmed to Toronto to receive what now is dubbed the ‘Toronto Blessing’ and spread it to their home churches. . . . Congregations in Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Boston, Buffalo, Orlando, and Lakeland, Fla., have experienced renewal. They have come under the ministries of evangelists Howard‑Browne, Hinn, Cindy Jacobs of the Colorado Springs‑based prayer ministry Generals of Intercession, and other lesser‑known leaders.”
By August of 1994, the worldwide reach of the revival was already recognized in Time (August 15, 1994, p. 38), Christian Week (August 23, 1994, pp. 1,4), and The Toronto Star (August 25, 1994, p. A17).
Impact upon the United Kingdom
On December 13, 1994, Christian Week (p. 14) reported that, as of that date, the biggest impact of the Toronto Blessing had been taking place in the United Kingdom. In this article (“Airport Vineyard Still Flying High”), Doug Koop reported that The Church of England Newspaper conservatively estimates that more than 2,000 congregations “have experienced the so‑called ‘Toronto Blessing.’ (Some partisan observers have pegged the number as high as 4,000 churches.)” The majority of these churches were Anglican, although many other denominations were represented as well.
Holy Trinity Brompton
One of the first and most highly publicised ‘hotspots’ for the awakening in England was an Anglican Church, Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), in London.
At about 11:30 a.m. on May 24, 1994, Eleanor Mumford, assistant pastor of the South‑West London Vineyard and wife of John Mumford (pastor of South‑West London Vineyard and overseer of the Vineyard Churches in Britain) met with a group of friends, many of whom were leaders of other churches, to describe her recent visit to the Toronto Airport Vineyard. As she explained her remarkable experiences of the power of God and prayed for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit, everyone was profoundly affected.
Nicky Gumbel, Curate of Holy Trinity Brompton, suddenly realised that he was very late for a staff meeting at his own church, and rushed back from this meeting with his wife, Pippa, to HTB church office in South Kensington. The meeting was getting ready to adjourn, so he apologized and spoke briefly about what had happened. He was then asked to pray the concluding prayer. He asked the Holy Spirit to fill everyone in the room. According to the church newspaper, “HTB in Focus,” 12 June 1994:
The effect was instantaneous. People fell to the ground again and again. There were remarkable scenes as the Holy Spirit touched all those present in ways few had ever experienced or seen. Staff members walking past the room were also affected. Two hours later some of those present went to tell others in different offices and prayed with them where they found them. They too were powerfully affected by the Holy Spirit ‑ many falling to the ground. Prayer was still continuing after 5 pm.
At 4:00 that day, HTB’s Vicar, Sandy Millar, received an urgent phone call while attending a meeting of the Evangelical Alliance, chaired by General Secretary Clive Galver. Glenda, a member of the HTB church staff was calling to report that all of the members of the church team were on the floor of the office, unable to get up, after having received prayer. When Sandy asked how she had managed to get to the phone, she said that she had crawled. At an HTP service on the evening of May 29, Sandy Millar recounted the incident as follows:
I’ve never had such a message in my life. I was at a very serious meeting in the Evangelical Alliance, and we were talking about very serious things. And the telephone went, and Clive Calver, who’s the chairman of the Evangelical Alliance, went and answered it and then he looked over at me, and he said. “It’s for you,” he said, “and it’s urgent.” So I said, “Oh, thank you very much.” And I went over and I took the call, and this was Glenda. Now Glenda works here most of the time ‑ by which I mean she wasn’t working that afternoon, and she said, “Oh hello,” she said, “I’m sorry to interrupt the meeting,” she said, “but I thought you ought to know that the entire staff is slain in the Spirit and lying on the floor.” And these other seven solemn men and women were watching me because they wanted to know what this urgent news was, and they hoped it wasn’t too serious. I wasn’t quite ready to tell them, because I wasn’t quite sure what it meant. So I just said to Glenda, “Oh, you have to be careful nowadays.” I said to Glenda, “Is that a good thing?” And she said, “Yes, it’s a very good thing, indeed.” So I said, “Well what are you doing on the telephone then?” So she said “Well, I’ll tell you,” she said. . . . “I have crawled to the telephone on my hands and knees.” So I managed to look solemn for another minute and I said, “Thank you very much. I will get back as soon as I can.”
Sandy rushed back to find people rather startled at what had happened. The church leaders invited Eleanor Mumford to preach at Holy Trinity Brompton that Sunday, May 29, at both the morning and evening services. After both talks, she asked the Holy Spirit to come. Wallace Boulton in The Impact of Toronto (Crowborough: Monarch, 1994), p. 21, wrote of the morning service:
There was a time of silence. Then slowly, members of the congregation began to cry quietly, and some to laugh. As the Holy Spirit came, Eleanor asked people to come forward if they wanted prayer. Many did so. As Eleanor’s team and members of the church ministry team started to pray, people began to fall in the power of the Spirit. Soon the whole church was affected. There were scenes that few had ever seen before. The children arrived from their own groups and may of them were deeply touched and began praying for each other.
People lingered for a long time after each service. Audiotapes of Eleanor Mumford’s evening talk soon gained wide circulation in over one thousand churches of all kinds throughout England and served to pave the way for a massive reawakening among Anglicans and others.
Here are most of her comments:
I really can’t get over that you should have asked me to come at all. But to ask me twice, in the same day, is grace upon grace, and I’m terribly grateful. We had a wonderful morning this morning, quite wonderful. And I’ve come back with some more friends this evening to join you again. And I was saying to Sandy just now, coming in, it just moves me greatly because I know we’re family. We’re all of us family, and God calls us to different corners and to do different things but the truth is, this is like heaven. It’s just the family. And it’s been a joy and I’m grateful to you for welcoming us and to be putting up with us.
Sandy mentioned to you that I’ve just got back from a little holiday. And in fact, my husband generously suggested, and I enthusiastically agreed, and then with much grace, the Lord gave me a word through somebody quite independently of us within the church that I should take a little trip to Toronto, which I did, for three days. …
A Baptist pastor [Guy Chevreau], was involved in this remarkable move of the Spirit of God which seems to be taking place in eastern Canada. He’s written this: “At meetings hosted by the Airport Vineyard, Toronto, there has come a notable renewal and revival of hope and faith and of expectation. Over the past eighteen weeks, now about 130 days consecutively, the Spirit of God has been pouring out freedom, joy, and power in the most remarkable ways. Six nights a week,” – because they take a day off for Monday, six nights a week – “between 350 and 800 people at a time gather for worship, testimony and ministry. Rededications are numerous. Conversions are recently being witnessed and ministry to over 2,000 pastors, clergy, and their spouses has been welcomed by a diverse cross‑section of denominational leaders.”
And to date, they think that about a quarter of a million people have gone to either the Airport Vineyard or one or two of the surrounding Vineyards, or one or two Baptist churches which are much involved with this thing, as I will tell you later. This is supra‑church. This is supra‑denomination. This is not anybody’s church. This is Jesus’ kingdom.
“And with all of this there has come a renewing of commitment, and enlarging and clarification of spiritual vision, and a rekindled passion for Jesus and for the work of His kingdom. Some of the physical manifestations accompanying the renewal are unsettling for many people, leaving them feeling that they have no grid for evaluation and no map to guide them,” which is a sort of safe way of saying there are very bizarre things going on. …
So you may say, other than the generosity of my husband and my mad enthusiasm, what did I go for? … I went because I had heard that there was a tremendous party going on. And all through my life I’ve been one to get to a party. If I knew there was something happening, I wanted to be in the middle of it. It’s always been that way with me. And I went in a state of personal bankruptcy. I knew that I was bankrupt, and I knew that I was needing the Lord badly, and I had an incredible longing in my spirit for the things that I had heard of. And some of the stories I was hearing were stirring me, and just making me cry in the listening, and I thought “I need to get there.”
And so I went conscious of my need but high on expectancy. And so high that deep down, I was just sort of frightened of disappointment. I thought, “God, I’m not sure that I’m not setting myself up to be let down, and a tiny bit disappointed, because my expectation is so high of what you’re going to do.” And one evening I rang John back in London and he very sweetly in his typical way, he said to me, well now my darling, on a scale of one to ten, what do you think so far. And I said, “Hmmm. Seventy‑four?” And that’s the truth. It really was. And far, far exceeded my expectations, so gracious and generous was the Lord. … And so when I went forward on the first night, because they said on the first night, “Anyone who’s not been here before we’d like you to come first for us to pray for you.” And I went up unapologetically and the lovely pastor said to me, “What would you like? What are you here for?” And I said, “I want everything that you’ve got. I’ve only got two days, and I’ve come from London,” sort of defiantly. And behind this I was saying, “I’ve payed the fare and I’m determined to get my money’s worth. So what will you do?” And from that moment on they were a little bit like ‑ they ‑ the whole climate of this thing is surrounded with generosity. God has poured His spirit out on a people in an improbable little church, and they are now spending their time from morning to night giving away as fast as they can what God is giving to them. And as new people hit town, and as pastors hover across the horizon, they sort of savour as if it were fresh meat and they just long to come to you and lay their hands on you and give you all that God has given them, which I take to be a mark of the Lord. I just take it to be the generously of Jesus to His people.
And there was one very dear Chinese pastor who had come from Vancouver and he came fasting. He was obviously a very ascetic and Godly man and he was a very skinny man and he had spent much of his life I suspect fasting and he came fasting and famished and as he arrived, the Lord said to him, “Gideon, you can forget about the fast because this is a time of celebration.” And so it was. It was celebration from beginning to end. I need to tell you that the church itself where I visited, it happened to be a Vineyard, but I think that was really quite incidental. It’s placed on the very end of the airport runway at Toronto and is the most comically improbable building you will ever see. It’s part of a little office block, and if you were blinking you would have missed it. And there was just a little bit of a paper notice in the window that said, “Airport Vineyard.” And the band was splendid, but you know, just an ordinary church band. . . . And yet as I walked in, the atmosphere was electric with expectancy, and the pastors and the people whose church it was were just shining with the beauty of their Lord because they had spent the last 120 days in the presence of Jesus. …
These are ordinary people ministering in the name of an extraordinary God. And their pastor, John Arnott has said, “God is just using nameless and faceless people to minister His power in these days.” And that’s what I love. There is no personality attached. There’s no big name involved. There’s no one church that’s got a corner in the market. This is something that Jesus is doing. And the people and the church are simply preoccupied with the person and the power of the Lord Jesus. No personalities. Just Him. And I love that, because I’m tired of all that stuff. I’m tired of the heroes and the personalities. I just want Jesus. I just want Him and His Church straight. And that’s what I think I received. I saw the power of God poured out, just as it was in the books of Acts, and as I said this morning, I didn’t see tongues of flame, but I suspect it was because I wasn’t looking. And I have heard recently in this country of a meeting which took place where the Spirit of God was poured out and the building shook. The building shook, and three separate witnesses quite independently, came home and said the building actually shook. So we’re in the days of the New Testament. This is kingdom stuff, and it’s glorious. But it’s not new.
And so I scurried back to Scripture and I scurried back to Church history and I have discovered glorious things in the writings of Jonathan Edwards, who was the initiator of the Great Awakening in America during the mid‑eighteenth century, and he wrote this, which is remarkably similar to what I saw in Toronto just last week, two weeks ago. “The apostolic times seem to have returned upon us. Such a display has there been of the power and the grace of the Spirit.” Jonathan Edwards speaks of extraordinary affections ‑ of fear, sorrow, desire, love, joy, of tears, of trembling, of groans, loud cries, and agonies of the body, and the failing of bodily strength. He also says we are all ready to own that no man can see God and live. If we, then, see even a small part of the love and the glory of Christ, a very foretaste of heaven, is it any wonder that our bodily strength is diminished? …
I have discovered a new heroine in the last few days, who is the wife, or was the wife, of Jonathan Edwards. And she was a very godly and wonderful woman. And she fell under the power of the Spirit of God to such a degree in the 1740s, that for seventeen days, she was insensible. She was drunk for seventeen days. She could do nothing. (Now the Baptist pastor in Toronto had had to do all the school runs and all the school picnics for two days, because his wife was out for the count for forty‑eight hours. And he was driving, and he was packing the lunches, and he was doing their homework ‑ he was doing everything and he said, “God, when are you going to lift off my wife, so that this home can get back into order?”) But poor Jonathan Edwards had seventeen days in which his wife was insensible. And on one occasion she decided it was time to arise from the bed and to try and minister to the household, and they had a guest. So she got dressed in her best . . . and she went downstairs and lurching a little while, and as she passed the study where the door was open and Jonathan Edwards was talking to his friend about the Lord, as she heard the name of Jesus, her bodily strength left her, and she hit the floor. So they carried her back to bed, and there she stayed. And as it’s said in the history books, no one recorded who made the lunch. So this thing is taking people over in the most remarkable way. And at the end of this time, Jonathan Edwards’ wife said, “I was aware of a delightful sense of the immediate presence of the Lord, and I became conscious of His nearness to me, and of my dearness to Him.” And I think it’s this one phrase that has impressed itself upon my Spirit in the last week, and what I think is the key to this whole thing, is that the Lord in His mercy is pouring out His Spirit in order to persuade us, His people, of “His nearness to me, and of my dearness to Him.” …
I heard a story just this afternoon of a woman who had left a meeting rather as I had done, but she was reeling, and unwisely, she decided to drive home. This was all over the place, and she was stopped by the police. Honest to God, this is true. She was stopped by the police, and she got out of the car, and the policeman said, “Madam, I have reason to believe that you’re completely drunk.” And she said, “Yes, you’re right.” So he said, “Well, I need to breathalyse you,” so he got his little bag, and as she started to blow into it, she just fell to the ground laughing. At which point, the policeman fell, too, and the power of God fell on him, and he and she were rolling on the freeway laughing under the power of God. And he said, “Lady, I don’t know what you’ve got, but I need it,” and he came to church the next week and he found Jesus. He got saved. And this is happening. People are going out and telling each other about Jesus with a recklessness that they’ve never known before. I don’t know about you, but when people say ‘evangelism’ the hairs in the back of my neck go up and I get guilt and I feel awful and I feel destroyed and defeated. Evangelism is a breeze, people. It’s such fun like this.
So there was a woman who had left one of the meetings and she had been laughing on the floor for two hours, and she got really hungry. So she went to the Taco Bell . . . and she sat down . . . and she looked across, and she saw a whole family eating burritos. And she said to them, . . . “Do you want to be saved?” And they all said, “Yes!” All of them! And they were all saved and led to Christ on the spot.
And another man left a meeting and he went into a restaurant, and a man was watching him, and for about ten minutes, he watched him. And he had this . . . young man who came up to him and said, “Excuse me, but are you a Christian?” And this chap had just left the meeting ‑ he said, “You bet.” And he said, “Well, my wife has just left me. I’ve just lost my home. I’ve just lost my job, and I’m about to take my life. … What can help me?” And he led him to Christ. And … this is good news, people. This is news for the people out there. People are getting saved right and left. And they are now discovering even in the Toronto area that there are several hundreds of people that are getting saved. People right and left are coming to know Jesus, because Jesus is the joy of our lives. It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. …
There’s a woman of whom I know. I know her story well, and it’s a verifiable story, and she has been extremely ill with colitis. A most horrendous form of colitis for a very, very long time. She was, as a child, dreadfully abused. And she’s married and infertile. No babies. And she’s a secretary to a friend of ours. And last September, the Lord mercifully healed her of her colitis, and about three weeks ago she fell under the power of God to such a degree, and an hour or two later she got off the carpet and she said, “I no longer have abuse in my history. I have no memory. I have nothing. It’s as if there was never anything.” And she’s now expecting her first baby. So God is healing the sick. And He’s mending our wounds and He’s doing things for us that it’s taken us years of care and counselling to try and achieve. …
People are being restored by the mercy and the sweetness of God. And, quite honestly, whether one stands or falls, whether one laughs or cries, whether one shakes or stands still, whether you go down could matter not, it just doesn’t matter a bit. It doesn’t matter how you go down. What matters is how you come up. It doesn’t matter what goes on in the outside. What counts is what Jesus is doing in our bodies and in our souls, in our hearts and in our spirits.
We have a woman in my prayer group who is a hair dresser. And she’s married to a Muslim, and her life is not easy. And she said that in the course of the last week, she’s been reading her Bible like never before. But she said, “I’m not reading it.” She said, 2I hear the voice of Jesus reading it to me. As if I were a child, Jesus reads me His book.” Wonderful things. …
I think if we come receptive and childlike, there is infinite blessing for the people of God at this time. I’ve discovered in myself a love for Jesus more than ever. I’ve discovered in myself an excitement about the kingdom I wouldn’t have believed possible. I’ve discovered that I’m living in glorious days. There’s no other time; there’s no other place where I would have chosen to be born and to live than here and now. …
Although Holy Trinity Brompton was not the first church in the UK to be touched, the church newsletter, which detailed the events of Sunday, May 29 triggered “an avalanche of publicity” in The Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Independent and The Times. Christian word‑of‑mouth and the newspaper coverage would draw hundreds of ministers to the church in the following weeks; soon hundreds of churches were engulfed by the most intense spiritual fervour they had ever known. In the midst of these days of heaven an HTB staff member spoke of the “Toronto Blessing” and very soon the label became attached to what many believed was a special “time of refreshing from the hand of the Lord” (Dave Roberts, The “Toronto” Blessing [Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1994], p. 12).
On May 31, Sandy Millar and HTB’s Pastoral Director, Jeremy Jennings, flew to Toronto. That evening, they saw remarkable scenes at the Toronto Airport Vineyard, while the phenomena continued the following day at another staff meeting at HTB. Sandy and Jeremy returned on June 3, and Jeremy left to join a residential Alpha weekend, which was being run by the church for new believers and inquirers. Patrick Dixon, in Signs Of Revival, (Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1994), p. 14, described what happened the following Sunday morning, June 5:
Nicky Gumbel shared what had been happening to him, and others also described their experiences. Once again, many manifestations appeared among the congregation ‑ so many in fact that the normal communion service could not continue.
That night the church was completely full, with around 1,200 people. As people prayed, the main church area gradually become covered with people lying on the floor, requiring hundreds of chairs to be stacked away. More than 100 people were still praying in the church at 10 pm. Someone remarked: The word revival’ is one everyone’s lips.
According to Wallace Boulton (pp. 22‑23), Sandy Millar wrote to his congregation as follows:
We have begun to see an astonishing outpouring of the Spirit of God upon our own church and congregation. It seems to be a spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit and there are certainly some very surprising manifestations of the Spirit excitingly reminiscent of accounts of early revivals and movements of God’s Spirit.
Some of the manifestations include: prolonged laughter, totally unselfconscious for the most part, and an inexpressible and glorious joy (I Pet 1.8). For some it is prolonged weeping and crying and a sense of conviction and desire for forgiveness, purity and peace with God. For others it seems to be the silent reception of the Spirit of God sometimes leading to falling down and sometimes standing up, sometimes kneeling, sometimes sitting.
There are great varieties of the manifestations of the Spirit. They are breaking out both during services and outside them in homes and offices. At times they are easy to explain and handle and at other times they are much harder and more complicated.
We have been hearing for several days of the movement of God’s Spirit in the Vineyard Church in Toronto, Canada, and a number of people have come to us from there telling us about what was going on and of what they thought it all meant. For that reason Jeremy Jennings and I decided to go briefly to Toronto to see what we could learn and what conclusions, if any, at this stage it was possible to draw. The manifestations are quite extraordinary and would undoubtedly be alarming if we had not read about them previously in history.
The manifestations themselves of course are not as significant as the working of the Spirit of God in the individual and the church. The manifestations are the signs and therefore of course it is to the fruit that we look rather than the signs. …
On June 19, Fred Langan and Paul Goodman provided the following account in the London Sunday Telegraph:
British Airways flight number 092 took off from Toronto airport on Thursday evening just as the Holy Spirit was landing on a small building a hundred yards from the end of the runway.
People from all over the world are flocking to this unlikely church, the Toronto airport branch of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, six nights a week. And every night there are astounding scenes of people shaking with laughter, slipping into a trance, falling to the floor, and crying.
“Last week Bishop David Pytches from England was down here on the floor roaring like a lion,” says John Arnott, the church’s pastor, as he explains how evangelical Christians have swarmed to Toronto like pilgrims to Lourdes.
They come mostly from the city’s suburbs, but as many as a quarter of them travel from the United States and from Europe ‑ in particular England. In the world of charismatic evangelism, this is the place to be.
Already, the phenomena seen at the airport church are rippling out to churches all over the world. In London, astonished worshippers at Holy Trinity, Brompton ‑ a cathedral of charismatic churchmanship renowned for its largely young upwardly mobile congregation ‑ have been undergoing similar experiences.
And now, there is rising speculation among charismatic evangelicals that what may be happening is more than a renewal, more even than a revival. The world, it is said, may in fact be on the verge of a full‑fledged awakening ‑ something on the scale of the great Wesleyan movement that swept England during the early 18th century.
At the end of September, 1994, Mike Fearon wrote of Holy Trinity Brompton in his book, A Breath of Fresh Air (Guildford, Surrey: Eagle, 1994), p. 4, “At the time of writing, four months after the Toronto Blessing made its unexpected but very welcome appearance, services there are so full that the choir stalls and chancel area behind the speaker have to be used as overflow areas, with scores of people standing in the gallery and around every doorway. Nearly 2,000 people pack into the building every Sunday.”
Sunderland Christian Centre
Ken and Lois Gott founded Sunderland Christian Centre (SCC) in 1987 in the north‑east part of England. Although they moved into a new building in 1992, by the summer of 1994 they felt very dry spiritually. Then, in August of that year, Ken Gott visited Holy Trinity Brompton in London with four other Pentecostal leaders, and he was deeply humbled by the sense of God among Anglicans.
Andy and Jane Fitz‑Gibbon wrote in Renewal (issue 227, April 1995, p. 11), that “stereotypes were shattered as Ken and the other Pentecostalists received a new baptism in the Spirit at the hands of Bishop David Pytches. The change was so profound in Ken that the members at SCC took up an offering and sent Ken, Lois and their youth leader for a week to Toronto. Like most of us who have made the same pilgrimage, they were profoundly touched, ‘soaking’ in God for a week, never to be the same again.”
Upon their return from the Toronto Airport Vineyard, the Gotts decided not to tell the church about the phenomena they had seen. Ken said, “We wanted to have a visitation, not an imitation.” Andy and Jane Fitz‑Gibbon (ibid, p. 12) wrote:
On their return, the Holy Spirit landed on SCC! In a similar fashion to the beginnings at Airport Vineyard, the church met nightly, thinking it would last for a few nights.
After two weeks of nightly meetings without a break it seems the renewal “kicked into another gear.” Without advertisement, word began to extend across the region. People started to come to SCC from a spread of 70 miles.
Numbers attending in the third week grew to 600 a night. . . . there have been occasions when the ministry team are still praying into the early hours of the morning. . . .
Catholics lie on the carpet next to the Plymouth Brethren. Anglican priests have fallen, shaken, and jerked along with the Baptists. . . .
Each night testimonies are given to God’s changing peoples’ hearts and lives. One woman testified a month and a half after her first visit that “God has done for me in six weeks what counsellors had tried to do for 10 years,” so deep was the change in her life.
Teenagers have been given new boldness in testifying of their faith to their friends. Children as young as seven or eight are seeing amazing visions and publicly giving testimony to the fact that they know God is with them.
There have been a number of dramatic physical healings and a great increase in the release of prophetic ministry. . . .
Each night there is a ministry team composed of members of different churches throughout the region. Leading and preaching are done by a team of pastors and others who have been touched by the refreshing. The renewal meetings have become a melting pot of God’s people in the north‑east. . . . among those who have come have been pastors and their spouses needing a fresh touch from God. Most have been spiritually dry, some even to the point of resigning from the ministry before they came to Sunderland. Many of these have testified to a renewed vision, a new sense of direction and a new empowering and anointing. Having been met powerfully, they have returned home and God has transformed their churches.
Needless to say, the effect on the church itself has been profound. Membership doubled in 1994, to just over 400. There have been many commitments to Christ during the renewal meetings. . . . One man, who had a criminal past, was brought to the meetings by his girlfriend. Half way through the meeting he ran out, unable to cope with what was happening. A few days later he was back, gave his life to Christ and received the Holy Spirit in a powerful and dramatic way. . . .
In January  the renewal at Sunderland moved to two meetings a day with a daily prayer meeting in the afternoon.
By April of 1995, Charisma (vol. 20, no. 9) was reporting of Sunderland Christian Centre that its pastor, Ken Gott was leading six meetings a week at that church. “The nightly meetings have remained constant since last summer, when Sunderland’s leaders visited the Airport Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Toronto. . . . Visitors from Australia, the Netherlands and the United States have been to Gott’s 400‑member church, and the region’s independent TV company has filmed services” (p. 58).
Charisma quoted Gott to the effect that “We’re just aware that the place is saturated with God’s presence. . . . Visitors regularly claim they have [even] felt God’s presence in the parking lot outside.”
On June 19, 1995, in two posts to the new‑wine list on the internet, Jon W. Cressey reported that Sunderland Christian Centre had been experiencing continuous meetings for 43 weeks, and that car theft and crime, according to Alpha magazine, had allegedly dropped by 45% in the city area over the previous year.
In August of 1995, Andy and Jane Fitz‑Gibbon reported in Renewal (issue 231, pp. 14‑18) that John and Carol Arnott had made their second visit to Sunderland in April of that year:
The conference took place in the Northumbria Centre on the Stephenson industrial estate. Members of Sunderland Christian Centre worked hard to organize the large‑scale event. . . .
Over 1,300 people had registered for the full three days, with several hundred others enrolled as day visitors and with many more attending the evening meetings, which were open celebrations. Many had travelled hundreds of miles to attend. We know of people who had come from Holland, Norway, France, West Africa, new Zealand, Australia and Thailand as well as from all over the British Isles. . . . Every night probably over a thousand people fell under the power of the Spirit and lay row after row, side by side as they soaked in God’s presence.
We asked if John [Arnott] had any idea why Sunderland became like a smaller version of Toronto. He commented, “We can only speculate. I know God uses people. Ken and Lois Gott got powerfully touched. They had a desire to do it. They went back home. God exploded on them and they had the faith to keep it going. God is looking for people that are willing to pay the price, risk it all and go for it.” We hope God ‘finds’ many such people.
Vietnam and Cambodia
Tom Ford of Dallas, Texas, reported that on October 10, 1994, he had just returned from a two week trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. He wrote:
Ten of us from our church in Dallas went there to bring in medical supplies and bibles and to build up the churches there. Our team met with several leaders of house churches in Vietnam. Some of the leaders oversee hundreds of individual house churches and several thousand people. Most of them had spent time in jail for preaching the gospel. Any unapproved meeting of more than 15 is illegal and the churches have to meet secretly. Their faith and commitment to the Lord is amazing. We met with them to encourage them and to pray for them to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that had been seen in the US and around the world. We divided into groups of 2 or 3 to go to various meeting places around the city. We were driven on the back of motorcycles to a lot of them. At every place where we prayed the Holy Spirit touched them and many fell out, laughed, cried, shouted, or danced under the influence of the anointing. It was really amazing. Most of the people we talked to had not seen or heard about the outpouring that is happening now. One time, I went with one of the girls on our team to meet with a group of about 20 people. I told about the what had been happening in Toronto, about our pastors going there to see it, and bringing it back to our church in Dallas. The two of us started praying for them and saw the same thing happen there. Wow! I hadn’t been stretched that far before. It was great.
In Cambodia, we were hosted by Sophal Ung, the pastor of a church sponsored by Global Network. The Lord is doing great things through his ministry there. The government has given them freedom to do whatever they want. They are feeding the poor, planting churches all over the country, and helping train people with marketable skills. It’s a very poor country with little industry. They’ve seen lots of miracles too, blind eyes opened, deaf healed, demons cast out, and the dead raised. There was a man that died of a heart attack and was dead 9 hours. They took up boards from the floor of his house to have a coffin made. The Buddhist priest was going to come pick up the body the next day. His wife had been saved about 2 weeks and wouldn’t give up. She and several Christians prayed for hours until midnight. The others gave up and went home, but she kept on. At 4:30 am the husband sat up said give me something to eat. He went out the next day and the people of the village thought he was a ghost. People came from miles around to see the man that was raised up. The man and his wife now have a church in their house. I have the testimony on videotape also.
At the CATCH THE FIRE Conference in Toronto in October of 1994, there were some people from Cambodia, Monee Mon and Chen Mau, co‑workers with Sophal and Deborah Ung, who told about a resurrection from the dead and a Buddhist temple that had been struck by a fireball from heaven, which caused it to move fifty metres. The resurrection had occurred in January of 1994. Someone’s husband had been sick for two or three years, and died in January. The neighbours came, and at 8:00 pm the Buddhist monk came and pronounced him dead. He left at midnight. Then, at 3 am, after the wife had been praying, he was alive. He, himself, was surprised, and began checking his body. He asked for rice soup. At 6 am he walked around throughout the village and the people thought that he was a ghost, because they saw him lying dead the previous evening. He would knock on peoples’ doors, and when they saw him, they were too frightened to let him come in. As a result of this, thousands of people came to the Lord, and eight churches were planted.
They said that on Sunday morning, August 31, Sophal was sharing about what was happening in Toronto. People fell to the floor before he ever had a chance to finish. In the evening, the same thing happened again. Then it began to rain, and there was a Buddhist temple on the mountain. The people were preparing to bring all of the idols to the Buddhist temple. Suddenly, people saw a ball of fire coming from the side, which caused the temple to move fifty metres, and the temple was destroyed. Five Buddhist monks testified about this. One monk said that he was clinging to his bed for the entire fifty meters, but he was not hurt. He felt happy, and he was rejoicing. The whole building was destroyed, but nobody was hurt. God destroyed the idols, but the people were left unharmed. This incident reportedly caused the people to take the message of the Christian Gospel very seriously.
In October of 1994, James Ryle told Richard and Kathryn Riss that Monee Mon and Chen Mau had videotaped an interview with Sophal and Deborah, and in the interview, there was a description of the experiences of the man who was raised from the dead. He said that he was taken to a river, and people were crossing the river. Each person crossed in a coffin. He was asked, “Where is your coffin?” He said he didn’t have a coffin. He was told that if he didn’t have a coffin, he couldn’t cross. He began retracing his steps, and he came to a crossroads. He was given a choice of either light or darkness. He chose the light. The next thing he knew, he was in bed, checking himself to see if he was really alive. His wife was there praying, and had been praying for some time.
Melbourne, Florida Revival
On New Year’s day of 1995, Randy Clark was guest speaker at the Tabernacle Church in Melbourne, Florida, for a series of meetings sponsored by five local churches. An unusual revival broke out immediately, accompanied with holy laughter, falling under the
power of the Spirit, and many dramatic physical healings. From the first day, thousands of people flocked to meetings held six days a week. The services were hosted on a rotating basis by pastors and musicians from fifteen different congregations in the local area, including Presbyterian (PCA), Southern Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist, and Assemblies of God churches (National & International Religion Report, vol. 9, no. 8 [April 3, 1995], p. 2).
In a January 20 post to the new‑wine list, an internet mailing list devoted to the revival, Randy Clark wrote:
In 1994 I spent about 150 [days] in renewal meetings. During that time I never was in a meeting which I felt had the potential to become another Toronto type experience. That was until I went to Melbourne, Florida [on] January 1, 1995. Another revival has broken out. Many sovereign things have occurred which indicate this place too will be [the site of] usual renewal meetings. I shall share some of these.
First, what made me expect something special at these meetings? I never schedule over four days for meetings, but I scheduled fifteen days for this meeting. Why? I believed there were things going on which indicated a major move of the Spirit was imminent. The Black and White ministerial associations merged a few months prior to my going. The charismatic pastors had been meeting together for prayer for six years, and pastors from evangelical and charismatic and pentecostal churches had been meeting and praying together for over two years. There was a unity built which would be able to withstand the pressures of diverse traditions working together in one renewal/revival meeting.
The meetings are held at the Tabernacle, the largest church in the area. It holds 950 comfortably. This was Jamie Buckingham’s church, now pastored by Michael Thompson. The church sanctuary is filled by 6:15 with meetings beginning at 7:00. About 1,200 are crowded into the sanctuary, another 150 fills a small overflow room, and another 200‑300 sit outside watching on a large screen. . . .
This past Sunday a man who was hurt six years ago was healed. He had severe spinal injury in the neck which had resulted in four surgeries, and fusing the four bottom vertebrae in the neck. This made it physically impossible for him to look up at the ceiling or down at the floor. Neither could he move his neck to the left or right. He also had had seizures for the six years since the accident. He had been treated by the best neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins. He had been told his damage was irreversible. He was taking pain medication for pain management. This pain had become worse and he was facing a fifth surgery. He had been a pastor in the area before this accident. He is very well known in the area. Sunday night I was praying for him when he was healed.
That Sunday morning I woke up having a dream about seeing a spine. In the dream I could see vertebrae and disks. That morning I had a word of knowledge about pain in the left armpit. When I began praying for him I asked him if he had pain in the left armpit. He said that he had a lot of pain in that area. He also had tremors in his hands, as well as feeling pain and sometimes numbness in the fingers. When I began to pray for him I noticed first the trembling stopped in the hands. Then he told me the pain in his left arm stopped. I had been praying for over ten minutes before there was any noticeable effect upon his body. Then I began praying for his neck more specifically. First the pain in his head stopped. Then the grinding sound in his neck ended when he tried to move his head. Then he was able to move his head looking up at the ceiling, down at the floor, and left to right as much as I could. He was healed. I was so surprised by this healing that along with his adult son and wife, I began to weep kneeling beside him.
It has been three days since his healing. I have kept in touch with him through others in the area. He still has no pain, and he is able to move his head in what should be physically impossible with four fused vertebrae. To God be the glory great things he has done! Let no one look at me as if by my power or godliness this man was healed. He was healed by faith in the name of Jesus. cf. Peter’s explanation to the crowd after the man was healed at the gate beautiful.
By March of 1995, the Melbourne revival was receiving coverage in Charisma (vol. 20, no. 8, p. 56), which stated that “on a recent Tuesday evening service at the Tabernacle Church in Melbourne, Fla., more than 1,000 people tried to find seats. Many of them settled for a spot in an adjacent overflow room, where they viewed the sermon via a video monitor. Meanwhile, another 60 people stood outside the sanctuary and watch the service on a giant screen that flapped in the balmy evening breeze. The crowds came from all over Florida’s Space Coast to hear Randy Clark.”
On June 12, the National & International Religion Report (vol. 9, No. 13, p. 3), reported that the revival services in Melbourne were “still going strong.” Fred Grewe reported at that time that “everybody is exhausted, but God is manifesting His presence every night ‑ so we are reluctant to stop” (ibid). Pastors from many different denominations were continuing to join in worship, share testimonies, and pray for renewal at one another’s churches. Between fifty and eighty pastors in the area were attending a weekly prayer meeting associated with the revival at First Baptist Church in nearby Satellite Beach.
In August of 1995, Charisma magazine reported, “Falling under the power of the Holy Spirit is not unusual to most charismatic Christians. But doing so alongside Presbyterians, United Methodists and Southern Baptists is. Yet it’s a daily experience for many Christians in Melbourne, Fla., where an unexpected revival movement is unifying charismatics and noncharismatics, and their clergy. . . . More than 65,000 people now have attended the meetings. . . . Hundreds of people have publicly professed faith in Jesus Christ.” (p. 18).
The October 1995 issue of Renewal (issue 223), a British Publication, carried an article on the Melbourne, Florida revival by Thomas Locke, an author of Christian fiction who was touched by the revival in June. He wrote, “I was in Florida doing research for a new story, when the city’s main paper ran a front‑page story of remarkable goings‑on at a local church. . . . The reporter was clearly not a believer, and yet this article described someone who had been deeply affected. . . . the meetings were continuing six nights a week, drawing a capacity crowed every evening.” He found an “astonishing mixture” of white, black, Asiatic, Hispanic, and American Indian people, which “cut right across the borders of wealth, class, race, and religious background. . . . The sense of matter‑of‑fact calmness which had returned by heart upon arrival continued unabated throughout the five‑hour service. . . . There were numerous declarations of miraculous healings. Well over a hundred people had by the end of the night been laid out flat by the moment’s power. There was loud laughter, there was speaking in tongues, there was spontaneous singing” (pp. 18‑20).
In a testimony posted to the internet (the world wide web pages of Melbourne Renewal Services and Youth Revolution International) dated February 25, Lisa Frodge wrote that, initially, she and her husband Rex were very skeptical, but that after becoming involved in the revival in Melbourne, “many, many prayers that have been prayed for years, have come true over a period of a few weeks. Some are small things, like finally being able to pray at our large family dinners, unity within the family, less tension in the home. However, God is changing our hearts and has drastically changed our lives.”
Colleen Orfe wrote, “Randy Clark first ministered at the Tabernacle in Melbourne on Sunday, January 1, 1995. That morning he gave an altar call for hypocrites and I went forward. . . . I was slain in the spirit and lay on the carpet, unable to get up for maybe an hour. A couple of times, I sat up, only to fall back down under the anointing. As I lay there, I experienced a sensation of perfect peace and felt my body relaxing so much it felt like I was melting into the floor. . . . Eventually, I was able to get up, but remained very ‘drunk’ in the spirit, almost unable to walk or talk. I felt like I was in a fog. When I drove home and prepared for bed, I discovered God had healed my back. I had had pain in my lower back for over a year, causing me to have difficulty turning over in bed finding a comfortable position, and even getting in and out of a chair. In the past, the spasms had been so intense at times that I had gone to a doctor and received muscle relaxers because I couldn’t stand up straight or walk. Most recently, it had just been general discomfort of the nature described. This night, I felt totally relaxed and pain‑free and enjoyed the best night’s sleep in months. It has remained healed ever since.”
Marie Purdy reported that she had strained her lower back and upper cervical neck area while helping her daughter with a landscape nursery. In October of 1994, she had x‑rays which indicated a stenosis. A friend brought her to meetings at ‘The Tab’ in Melbourne. She wrote, “I am used to a conservative Protestant service. I was not about to undergo any ‘carpet time’ being a skeptic and being scientifically trained although I do have faith in Jesus Christ. . . . As I watched and witnessed the people receiving prayer, I couldn’t comprehend the uncontrollable actions and emotions that they were responding to as a result. . . . As time went by, John Arnott said anyone with back, neck or spinal problems should come forth. . . . As John started administering prayer to me, I felt a warmth begin from my feet graduating up to my waist. He asked me to bend, twist and turn asking Jesus to give me more power to heal me. . . . I had no pain! What had happened? My legs started buckling and I hadn’t any control of my body as I felt myself falling back. . . . I lay on the carpet confused, questioning, nervous, overwhelmed. . . . For the first time in one year, I took the opportunity to stand up without one struggle and pain free.”
On January 6, Randy Clark and Fred Grewe of the Tabernacle Church went to Vero Beach, Florida, an hour’s drive south of Melbourne, to speak for Christian radio station WSCF, FM 92. During the interview, the disc jockey fell under the power of the Spirit, and was rendered incapable of continuing the interview.
Soon afterward, the general manager was also affected in the same way, so music was aired since “there was nobody to operate the station” (National & International Religion Report, vol. 9, No. 8 [April 3, 1995], p. 2).
In his January 20 post to the new‑wine, Randy Clark wrote, “Two weeks ago Friday I had a radio interview. During [the] interview a DJ fell out [under the power of the Spirit] in front of the station manager who was interviewing me. He shook violently. Other station employees fell out under the power. After we left the station kept on sharing [on the air] what was occurring live for hours. People were healed listening to the broadcast. Others came under conviction, drove to the station and gave their lives to God. Others were rededicated while listening. One man had to go home from work unable to continue driving his truck because the Spirit was so strong upon him.”
The General Manager of the radio station, Jon Hamilton, wrote a letter to his constituency as follows:
Dear Friend of Christian FM 92:
I had already put the finishing touches on my first letter of 1995. I really liked it. It was full of optimism and inspirational resolutions for the New Year.
It will never make it to the printer.
Instead, I am compelled to offer to you a testimony and witness as to a most remarkable day. I pray that it may serve to encourage those who seek God, and terrify those who oppose Him.
January 6, 1995 began in a rather ordinary way. It was Friday, it had been a busy week, but I was looking forward to a slow day. As I was leaving the house, I actually told my wife, “There’s not much on my calendar, I may try to take the afternoon hours off and came home early.”
I had agreed to interview a pastor from St. Louis, Randy Clark that morning. Randy was the guest speaker at The Tabernacle Church’s renewal services nightly, and since ‘The Tab’ is a good friend of FM 92 (and many other area churches were participating in the meetings), we had decided to clear a slot on the morning show for a brief interview.
My guest was one of the leaders of the so‑called ‘Toronto Revival’. I had read about the Toronto meetings, but frankly, I’ve heard a lot of revival rumours over the years and have learned not to pay much attention. Normally, I don’t do the interviews myself, but I was feeling cautious and let the ‘morning guys’ know I’d be there during the show.
The interview was innocent enough at first. The subject turned to a discussion of the Holy Spirit’s manifest presence in a meeting (as opposed to His presence that dwells within our hearts always). Rather suddenly, something began to happen in the control room.
It began with Gregg. He was seated behind me listening, and for no apparent reason, he began to weep. His weeping turned to shuddering sobs that he attempted to muffle in his hands. It was hard to ignore, and Randy paused mid‑sentence to comment “You can’t see him, but God is really dealing with the fellow behind you right now.” I looked over my shoulder just in time to see Gregg losing control. He stood up, only to crash to the floor directly in front of the console, where he lay shaking for several minutes.
I don’t know if you have ever tried to conduct a radio interview in such circumstances, but let me assure you I never have. I was mortified. We have always attempted to avoid any extremes at FM 92, so it was difficult to explain to our listeners what was happening. I had always known Gregg to act like a professional, so I knew something was seriously going on. I did my best to recover the interview under the embarrassing circumstances. I thanked the guest and wrapped it up. (And thought of ways to kill Gregg later!)
After when we have a guest minister in the station, we ask him to pray for the staff. Before Randy Clark left, we asked him to say a word of prayer.
We formed a circle and began to pray for the staff one by one. My eyes were shut, but I heard a thud and opened them to see Bart Mazzarella prostrate on the floor. He had fallen forward on his face. What amazed me most was that Bart was known to be openly sceptical. he simply did not accept such things. Within seconds, another and another staff person went down. Even those that remained standing were clearly shaken.
When they prayed for me, I did not fall down. What did happen was an electric sensation shot down my right arm, and my right hand began to tremble uncontrollably. My heart pounded as I became aware of a powerful sense of what can only be called God’s manifest presence.
Remember, our staff is not primarily Charismatic. We are Episcopalian, Nazarene, Evangelical, Pentecostal …. and a couple of “not quite sure”. While I personally am associated with an Assembly of God church, I’m quite the skeptic when it comes to “weird stuff”. I don’t watch many evangelists on TV, because too often I am turned off by what I see. This was completely new to us.
Randy was scheduled elsewhere, so after just a few minutes of prayer, he thanked me graciously and left quickly. Our staff remained in the control room, staring at each other wide eyed, and hovering over Bart, who still appeared unconscious on the floor. (He was completely immobile for over half an hour).
There was a sweet atmosphere of worship in the room, so I told someone to put one of the integrity Worship CD’s on air while we continued to pray together.
I thought the atmosphere would abate after a few minutes and return to normal… but instead, our prayers grew more and more intense. The room became charged in a way that I simply cannot describe. After an hour of this, we realized that it was 10:30, the time we normally share our listener’s needs in prayer.
I switched on the mike, and found myself praying that God would touch every listener in a personal way. After prayer, with great hesitation I added “This morning God has really been touching our staff, so we’ve been spending the morning praying together. If you’re in a situation right now where you are facing a desperate need, just drop by our studios this morning and we’ll take a minute to pray with you.” This was the first time we had ever made such an invitation.
This is where everything went haywire.
Within a few minutes, a few listeners began to arrive. The first person I prayed with was a tall man who shared with me some tremendous needs he was facing. I told him I would agree with him in prayer. As I prayed for his need, a voice in my head was saying, “It’s a shame that you don’t operate in any real spiritual gift or power. Here’s a man who really needs to hear from God and you’ve got nothing worth giving him!” I continued to pray, but I was struggling. I reached up with my right hand to touch his shoulder, when suddenly he shook, and slumped to the floor. (He lay there without moving for over 2 hours.) I was shocked and shaken.
Two others had arrived at this point, and staff members were praying with them. Suddenly they began weeping uncontrollably, and slumped to the floor. This scene was repeated a dozen times in the next few minutes. It didn’t matter who did the praying, whenever we asked the Lord, he immediately responded with a visible power, and the same manifestations occurred.
I didn’t know whether to be terrified or thrilled, but clearly, something completely unusual was going on. A young man cautiously entered the room, and began to tell us that he was “just happening” to be scanning the radio dial when he heard “something about prayer”. He reported that he was immediately overcome with conviction. Years before, he had contemplated going into the ministry, and had even attended a couple of years at a Christian College, but he had since strayed from God. As a chill of conviction swept him, he felt God suddenly tell him it was now or never. He drove to the station. We prayed with him to receive Christ as Lord, and afterward, he too slumped to the floor.
One by one they came. We continued to play praise‑oriented music, and every hour (sometimes on the half‑hour) we’d invite people to come.
Fairly early in all this, we ran out of room. The radio station floor was wall to wall bodies… some weeping, some shaking, some completely still. People reported that it was like heavy lead apron had been placed over them. They were unable to get up. All they could do was worship God.
Fortunately, our offices are inside of the complex at Central Assembly, so when the crowd began to grow, we moved across into the Church, leaving the radio station literally wall to wall with seekers.
Some teachers at Indian Christian School had heard what was happening, and asked us to pray for certain children they were bringing in the room. As we prayed for the kids, many began to shake and fall to the floor. Some would begin to utter praises to God. Others lay completely immobile for periods of over an hour. (If you’ve ever tried to make a seven year old lay still, you know it’s a miracle!) A few simply experienced nothing at all.
By now I was convinced that we were experiencing a bona fide move of God. I had read about such manifestation experiences being common in the revival meetings of great men like Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley. I had also read of the great camp meeting revivals in the early 1800’s, where thousands upon thousands experienced being slain, but I never imagined I would really live to see it.
The crowd continued to grow, and lines began to form. The power of God continued to fall on those coming. It was almost like being in a dream. I would look up and see our staff members … eyes red, faces puffy, and hands trembling, but with a fire in their eyes and the power of God upon them. I couldn’t believe it was the same people I knew and worked with. In a matter of hours, something we never even dreamed of (much less aspired to) was happening.
The floor in front of the sanctuary was soon covered with men and women, boys and girls. The aisles began to fill and we were pushing aside chairs for more floor space. Usually, one of our staff would ‘catch’ the person as they fell, but on quite a few occasions we were caught by surprise and people fell hard on the floor. Frankly, we had no idea what we were doing. (I’m not sure I want to learn!)
At some point I looked up and saw a local Baptist Pastor walk in the door. I must confess that my first thought was, “Oh Boy…I’m in trouble.” While I knew this brother to be a genuine man of God, nevertheless I was concerned about how a fundamental, no‑nonsense Baptist might take all these goings‑on. (Besides, I didn’t have an explanation to offer!) I walked up to greet him. He just silently surveyed the room, and with a tone of voice just above a whisper said, “This… is…God. For years I’ve prayed for revival… This is God.”
Within minutes more local pastors began to arrive. Lutheran, Independent, Assembly of God… The word of what was happening spread like wildfire. As the pastors arrived, they were cautious at first, but within just minutes, they would often begin to flow in the same ministry. The crowd was growing and pastors began to lay hands on the seekers, where once again the power of God would manifest and the seeker would often collapse to the ground.
It did not seem to matter who did the praying. This was a nameless, faceless, spontaneous move of God. There were no stars, no leaders, and frankly, there was no organization. (It’s hard to plan for something you have no idea might happen!)
Eventually, word of what was occurring reached Fred Grewe, the Melbourne pastor who had brought Randy Clark to the station earlier that morning. He and Randy, along with several other Melbourne pastors, jumped into the car and headed down to Vero Beach. At this point, we started broadcasting live from the Church. As the group from Melbourne arrived, more and more people also began to show up asking for prayer. It seemed like there were always more than we could get to.
Amazingly, unchurched, unsaved people were showing up. I got a fresh glimpse of the power of radio as person after person told us “I’m not really a part of any church…” A few were sceptical at first, and later found themselves kneeling in profound belief.
Sometimes people would rise up, only to frantically announce to us that they had been healed of some physical problem. One woman’s arthritic hands found relief. Neck pains, jaw problems, stomach disorders and more were all reported to us as healed.
We have received at least a dozen verified, credible, reliable comments from people who told us that when they switched on the radio, they were suddenly, unexpectedly overwhelmed by the presence of God (even when they didn’t hear us say anything). Several told us that the manifest presence of God was so strong in their cars that they were unable to drive, and were forced to pull off the road.
The ‘falling’ aspect of this visitation was the most visible manifestation, but it was not falling that was important. What was important was the fact that people were rising up with more love for God in their hearts than ever before. They were being changed, and their hearts set ablaze. I have lost count of the numbers of people who told me of the change God worked in their life.
It’s hard to imagine the impact this has had on our staff. It seems like God has almost given me a new staff, composed entirely of men and women to tremendous zeal for God. What is occurring in our local churches is even more amazing. My phone is ringing with the calls of excited pastors. At least a dozen area churches from completely different ends of the theological spectrum are already experiencing this powerful move in their church. The leaders of many, many other local fellowships have been visiting these churches to ‘check it out’, and they too are being touched to ‘take it back’ with them. It’s almost like a tidal wave has hit this area of Florida.
If you are sceptical, I understand and forgive you. (I might have thrown a letter like this one away just days ago.) I share this only to try and offer a faithful rendition of what has really happened.
I only ask that you remain open to whatever God wants to accomplish through you. Christian history is full of accounts of those times when God elected to ‘visit’ His people. When He has, entire nations have sometimes been affected. I believe you’ll agree, our nation is ripe for such a revival. For such a time as this, let us look to God with expectancy.
With warm regards, I am,
Further details of these events were later recorded in a report by J. Lee Grady in the March 1995 issue of Charisma (vol. 20, no. 8, pp. 56‑57).
Mott Auditorium, Pasadena, California
Similar in intensity to Toronto and Melbourne is what happened at Mott Auditorium on the campus of the U.S. Centre for World Mission. Beginning in January of 1995, John Arnott of the Toronto Airport Vineyard and Wes Campbell of New Life Vineyard Fellowship in Kelowna, B.C. began taking various trips of two or three days each as guest speakers at Mott Auditorium. By March 24, nightly meetings had begun, lasting far into the night five nights per week. On April 16, Isabel Gouveia of Oakland saw a vision. On May 28, she testified of this as follows (archives of the new‑wine list, July 29):
The anointing just came over me, and what I saw this large auditorium placed in the middle of a neighbourhood, a quiet neighbourhood in Pasadena. There were children playing all over in a nearby park. The Lord brought me in here. I came in the auditorium up to the stage, the altar here and what I saw was lots of seats going back and I saw three large doors. What I saw come in was just multitudes of people, coming into the auditorium with their arms open wide. It filled the auditorium up completely. People were standing in the aisles. Then I heard the Lord say that He was going to pour His Holy Spirit down upon all the people here in this place and that here … that here they will come and they will seek my face. Here they will bow down before me. They will repent, and they will receive the outpouring, and they will seek my face and they will confess, and they will bow down before me as empty vessels … and I will fill you up, and then what I saw was this gush of roaring living waters being poured out of everyone’s belly, and it just filled up this place. It filled it up completely. It was a flood. The Lord said that it was a cleansing flood, that He was going to cleanse everybody here. Then what I saw was the waters went up the isles and out of the auditorium and into the streets of Pasadena into the surrounding neighbourhoods. Then they connected and there were big rivers, there were mighty rivers, and they connected into the main arteries that flow into Los Angeles. Then in Los Angeles he said he will do a healing there and the people there … and the people there, they will … He said, His people then will be called by His name and that they will seek His face, they will humble themselves and they will pray, and He said then and only then. He said, I will forgive their sins and I will heal their land. He said that He will heal racism because there is only one race, and that is the race of Jesus Christ. He said that He will heal the generations, that He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. He said to come, come and be close to me. Receive from me, receive from me.
On May 28 (at about the same time as a visit by Claudio Freidzono of Argentina, John and Carol Arnott, and Bill Twyman of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Anaheim) two children began seeing visions of angels. Transcripts of the testimonies of these children, Joy Ahn (12), and Christine Cadiogan (10) of Pasadena, were made public on July 29 through the new-wine list on the internet, with the permission of Che Ahn, pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Greater Pasadena.
Very early in the morning on Sunday, May 28, Joy and her friend, Christine, were visiting the Ahn family in their home, but they began disturbing Che Ahn’s sleep and Christine kept shouting Mott, Mott, Mott, Mott. Sue, Che’s wife (Joy’s mother) took the two children to the nearby Mott auditorium, where the glory of God descended and the children saw open visions of heavenly things. An independent observer, John Lee, a ministerial student returning to the Church to pick up his car, said that he saw the glory of God in the form of a mist hovering all over the place, and later observed enormous angels everywhere throughout the auditorium.
On January 22, 1995, at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church in Brownwood, Texas, two students from Howard Payne University, a Christian institution, stood up and confessed their sins. As a result of this incident, many others started to confess their own sins before the congregation. On January 26, a similar event took place on the campus of Howard Payne. Word quickly spread to other colleges, and Howard Payne students were soon being invited to other college campuses, which experienced similar revivals. From these schools, more students were invited to still other schools, where there were further revivals (Chronicle of Higher Education, May 19, 1995, pp. A39‑A40).
One of the first two students from Howard Payne to confess his sins was Chris Robeson. As he testified about his own life and the spiritual condition of his classmates, People just started streaming down the aisles in order to prayer, confess their sins, and restore seemingly doomed relationships, according to John Avant, pastor of Coggin Avenue Baptist Church. From this time forward, the church began holding three‑and‑a‑half‑hour services. Avant said, “This is not something we’re trying to manufacture. It’s the most wonderful thing we’ve ever experienced” (National & International Religion Report, vol. 9, no. 7 [20 March 1995], p. 1).
The events at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church were preceded by about seven weeks of increased, widespread prayer. According to Avant, “God is shaking us ‑ something no person could do. God began by doing some things in isolated ways. He transformed the life of a prominent man in the community who was considering suicide, and couples who were within days of divorce were walking the church aisle to seek God’s forgiveness at the altar. . . .” (press release from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1 March 1995). Avant said that after the events on January 22, the motto among several local high school students had become, “God’s going to rock the world, and it’s starting in Brownwood,” and that “Southern Baptists, Nazarenes, Pentecostals, Independent Baptists, and Presbyterians are getting together just to kneel and pray for revival” (ibid).
At Howard Payne, revival broke out during a January 26 ‘celebration’ service, as students praised God in song and shared their testimonies. Students then started to schedule all‑night prayer meetings in dormitories. (Christian Week, 11 April 1995, p. 1 and Ken Camp, “’Activity of God’ Produces Renewal in Texas City’s Church”, Campus, 1 March 1995).
Then, on February 13‑15, during five meetings at Howard Payne, Henry Blackaby, a Southern Baptist revival leader ministered at a series of five worship services, attended by guests from up to 200 miles away. On Tuesday, February 14, more than six hundred attended, and students leaders went up to the platform to confess publicly their secret sins. About two hundred stayed afterward to continue praying. One of the students, Andrea Cullins, said, “Once we saw the Spirit move, we didn’t want to leave” (ibid). Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” discipleship curriculum had been used recently in many of the Brownwood area churches that became affected by the revival.
After Howard Payne, some of the first schools to be affected were Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Forth Worth, Texas, Beeson School of Divinity in Birmingham, Alabama, Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, Ill., The Criswell College in Dallas, Moorehead State University in Moorehead, Ky., Murray State University in Murray, Ky., Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La., Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. In each case, students went forward during long services to repent of pride, lust, bondage to materialism, bitterness, and racism.
On February 23 at Olivet Nazarene, Chaplain Bill Bray played an eight‑minute video clip of the 1970 Asbury College revival at a chapel service. Students and faculty then began seven hours of sharing, praying, singing and exhortation to one another. As it continued, word spread off campus and members of the community came in order to experience the move of God, according to Bray. Other colleges affected by the video of the 1970 revival included Moorehead State and Murray State. (National & International Religion Report, vol. 9, no. 8 [3 April 1995], p. 1).
Three Howard Payne students spoke at an evangelism class taught by Roy Fish at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, on February 28 to report on “the activity of God” in Brownwood. Fish reported that what happened that day “had all of the marks of a revival.” Other students from Howard Payne later spoke at Houston Baptist University and Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.
On March 1, John Avant spoke to an overflow crowd at Southwestern Baptist’s Truett Auditorium about the events at Brownwood, resulting in seven hours of confession and prayer by students, faculty, and administrators. Students said that there was “an outpouring of healing, purging and cleansing among students, faculty, staff and administrators” (“Confession‑Filled Chapel Service on March 1 Marks Spiritual Awakening at Southwestern,” Press Release, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1 March 1995).
Avant said that he witnessed deep, gut‑level and spontaneous confessions of sins. “I saw a lot of brokenness and some genuine healing,” he said. “I was amazed by the camaraderie among the students. Someone would share and immediately five or six people would stand around them and pray. One of the most moving experiences was when a white man admitted racism and two or three black guys almost carried him off the stage hugging him” (Bob Murdaugh, “Southwestern Revival Spreads into Surrounding Community,” 7 March 1995).
Southwestern student Bobby Miller was surprised at the wide range of sins confessed by his fellow seminarians. “It’s scary because most of them are prominent leaders of churches. Their confessions made me realize how much more I’ve got to have my act together” (ibid). Avant said that Southwestern professors such as Roy Fish and Malcolm McDow first gave him a love for revival while he was a student on campus. The meetings at Southwestern continued for several weeks with “extended chapel services lasting all day long, with students and faculty confessing their sins publicly and praying for forgiveness and cleansing from the Lord. There is a strong Presence of the Holy Spirit in the meetings, which are not being led by any one person” (Bill Benninghoff to Richard Riss, 24 March 1995).
According to Bob Murdaugh, various ministers of churches in Fort Worth reported that their congregations were experiencing or close to experiencing great movements of God similar to the one which took place during the March 1 chapel service at Southwestern. For example, “One supernatural event was an hour‑long youth meeting at Southwayside Baptist Church on the evening of March 1 that turned into a three‑hour time of confession, according to youth worker and Southwestern student Bobby Miller” (ibid). This took place after some Southwestern students gave testimonies of how God touched them in the seminary chapel.
Avant and Robeson later spoke at Beeson Baptist Theological Seminary on March 7 at a three‑hour service during which dozens of people went forward to pray, confess pride and lust, and seek reconciliation in personal relationships. Beeson’s dean, Timothy George, said that this was something that they had been “praying and yearning for.” Southwestern’s president, Ken Hemphill, described the events as “a genuine moving of God and the beginning of authentic spiritual revival” (ibid).
At Wheaton College, some students from Howard Payne University, James Hahn and Brandi Maguire, gave their testimonies at a weekly meeting of the World Christian Fellowship at Pierce Chapel on March 19 that lasted from 7:30 pm to 6 am the following day, when the custodial staff asked the remaining 400 people (of a total of 900) to leave so that the building could be cleaned. During that meeting, after each student spoke, friends gathered around to embrace and pray for him or her. Five large garbage bags were filled with bottles of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pornography, and secular music. Subsequent meetings were moved to College Church at Wheaton to facilitate the larger crowds (1,350 to 1,500 according to chaplain Kellough, but closer to 1800 according to John Knapp, a professor of English at Suny‑Oswego and an alumnus of Wheaton who attended the Thursday meeting).
Steve Snediker, wrote on March 25, “This thing has been almost entirely student led ‑ there were lines and lines of people engaged in confession and restitution. Loads of pornography, alcohol, cigarettes, ungodly CDs and tapes were being brought to the meetings as part of the confession. And people were coming forward to receive salvation in Christ. . . . It has been affecting more than just the students on campus. Young people from area churches have been attending. Because the meetings had officially been ended, at least one group of young people continued to meet at their own church last night (Friday) for prayer.”
Richard Leonard wrote, “The revival began on Sunday evening after some special speakers (from another college, we believe) had addressed the student body. One young man was so moved that he went forward to confess his sins. (He is something of a campus leader.) He left the chapel to pray with some other students, and when he returned, people were lined up all the way to the back of the auditorium waiting to confess their sins. This went on far into the night until early Thursday morning when the last person got to the microphone. Thursday night the administration scheduled a praise service to thank God for moving on the campus. . . . There has been racial and gender reconciliation and all across the campus there is a great spirit of quiet joy. . . . The report is that about four hundred students have made a commitment to missions or other Christian service because of their gratitude for what the Lord has done for them” (Richard and Janice Leonard to Richard M. Riss, 24 March 1995).
On March 23, Joel A. Dylhoff wrote to Teresa Seputis, “We have been having meetings all this week starting in the evening and running until the next morning. The one tonight ran from 9:30 until 2:30 in the morning.” Another student wrote, “What would happen was that after a period of singing, people would line up to confess publicly, and as soon as they were done, they would be mobbed by fifteen to twenty people who would gather around them and pray for them. There was a lot of crying as people unloaded sins that they had carried with them for a long time. . . . God is definitely at work and the number of people who attend continues to grow each night as the word spreads by mouth. We have had people from the community there, faculty, and students from Northwestern, DePaul, North Park, Loyola, and several others.”
David MacAdam of New Life Community Church in Concord, Mass., wrote (25 March 1995), “I pastor a cell church in Concord, MA. While we were meeting in a home Tuesday night (March 21), a woman in our group receive a phone call from her son, a senior at Wheaton. He reported that he has never experienced anything like what was going on there. His classmates, who could have cared less what they watched on television or how they reacted in terms of behaviour, were crying out to God, shedding tears. People were lining up to confess their sins in the chapel. There is a sense of the awesome and holy presence of God. . . . The passion for God born of this move of the Spirit is obvious.”
Joel A. Dylhoff wrote to Jennifer Baier on 24 March, “Tonight we emphasized thanksgiving and praise since everyone finished confessing late Wednesday night. The place was absolutely packed! We had an open mike again tonight for people to get up and talk about what they had discovered during the past week. Two people were saved and when they said this, the place went crazy! We also had a call tonight for people to go into the missions field and between 200 and 400 went forward (my judgement is not good, so I couldn’t tell you the exact number)! Then we sang some praise and worship songs and the place absolutely exploded! People were shouting and jumping around because they couldn’t contain themselves. Afterward people were running around hugging and laughing with each other. I was completely floored! The Holy Spirit was flexing his muscles and Satan fled in a big way!”
A detailed account of the revival at Wheaton College has been written by Lyle W. Dorsett, in the fourth chapter of Accounts of a Campus Revival: Wheaton College 1995, edited by Timothy Beougher and Lyle Dorsett (Wheaton, Ill.: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1995), pp. 75‑92.
At The Criswell College, 150 students prayed and repented for four hours after hearing testimony from some Howard Payne students. Then, Doug Minton, pastor of First Baptist Church of Corinth, Texas, reported that his church experienced revival for weeks after a visit from Howard Payne students. At an evangelism conference for the Illinois Baptist State Convention, more than 500 people stayed for four hours to pray and repent after John Avant described these events. During the next week, There were more than six similar incidents reported by those who had been at this conference.
By April 17, the National & International Religion Report (17 April 1995), vol. 9, no. 9, p. 1, reported that thousands more students, as well as some faculty and administration members, had “participated in public confession, restitution, and reconciliation” in colleges throughout the U.S., including Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, Illinois Baptist College in Galesburg, Ill., Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass., Taylor University in Upland, Ind., Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minn., Crown College in St. Bonifacius, Minn., and Cornerstone College (formerly Grand Rapids Baptist College) in Grand Rapids, Mich. Meetings that had been scheduled in advance, such as the National Student Leadership Conference at Taylor University, and Beacon ’95, a New England student conference, both of which were held April 7‑9, 1995, served as catalysts to spread the revival still further.
Mike Shelton, a student at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, wrote on April 10, “Some students from Wheaton came to Gordon College this past Friday to speak about what’s been going on there as part of Beacon ’95, an annual conference of New England college students hosted by Gordon. After a period of praise and worship followed by an excellent message on Matthew 7 by John Fisher, the Wheaton students were invited to share. Several student leaders came forward to confess their own pride in praying for revival on campus for other students and recounted how they had been humbled to see the need for revival in their own lives. After they finished, a steady stream of Gordon students and, later, visiting students came forward to confess sins or share what God had been touching their hearts. I and everyone with me were deeply touched and met privately with one another afterward to confess some deep sins to one another and rededicate our lives to the Lord. Classes have been cancelled this Tuesday at Gordon so that the entire campus can meet together. . . . I’m seeing a widespread hunger for God and willingness to take up the cross that I’ve never seen before.”
The revival at Taylor University was prompted by some students from Wheaton and Asbury who went to Taylor to share testimonies about revivals on those campuses. According to one Taylor student, “word spread like wildfire throughout the campus,” and an evening service was held at 8:00 pm on April 9, about five hours after the previous meeting had ended. “I went there, expecting little, and wanting nothing. I stayed until 1:00 am; it went until 4:00 am. I have never felt so filled with the Holy Spirit, nor have I [before] been able to see my fellow students through the eyes of God [as I have now]. . . . I absorbed this love and radiance of God for 5 hours, and it felt like 15 minutes. God initiated the giving up of addictions, attitudes, and practices. It was real, it was not forced. Never will I forget this weekend, and how God has broken me, and the people around me.” (Colleen Kendrick to Richard Riss, 10 April 1995).
By May 1, revival had come to Iowa State University, Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Co., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., Indiana Wesleyan in Marion, Indiana, Gordon‑Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass., Judson College in Elgin, Ill., George Fox College in Newberg, Oregon, Multnomah Bible College in Portland, Oregon, and Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Co. (National & International Religion Report [1 May 1995], vol. 9, no. 10, pp. 2‑3).
At Iowa State on April 10, about three hundred members of several Christian organizations on campus waited for several hours in order to go to the microphone to confess sin, repent and pray after hearing from four Wheaton students about what had happened on their campus. The meeting lasted from 8:30 pm until 5 am the following morning. On April 13, at Southern Baptist, John Avant spoke at a chapel service, and when the 1,000 students were dismissed, hundreds of them, along with some faculty and administration members, went forward to repent of sins, including bitterness (ibid).
A detailed account of the spread of the college revivals to Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minn., Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky., Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass., Cornerstone College in Grand Rapids, Mich., Taylor University in Upland, In., Judson College in Elgin, Illinois, Hope College in Holland, Mich., Iowa State University, George Fox College in Newberg, Ore., Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Ore., Trinity Christian High School in Elmhurst, Ill., Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Ill., Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., Columbia University in New York, N.Y., the University of Wisconsin ‑ Stevens Point, Yale University in New Haven, Ct., Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill., a Baptist church in the Chicago area, and Greenville College in Greenville, Ill., has been written by Matt Yarrington in the seventh chapter of Accounts Of A Campus Revival: Wheaton College 1995, edited by Timothy Beougher and Lyle Dorsett (Wheaton, Ill.: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1995), pp. 139‑170.
Modesto, California Revival
In January 1994, when Glenn and Debbie Berteau became pastors of Calvary Temple Worship Centre in Modesto, California, they had a strong sense from the Lord that revival would take place there. In one of their sermons, Why not Modesto?, they asked why Modesto couldn’t be known as a city that had been visited by revival. In early 1994, they presented the congregation with the vision that God had given them. After this ‘vision Sunday,’ the congregation went into a forty day fast. Individuals signed up for specific days on which to fast and pray. The entire procedure was repeated again a year later. In early January, a three day fast was declared, and the church building was kept open throughout the day. Those who could do so met together for prayer daily at noon. Members of the congregation came and prayed over names on cards that were placed on the altar. The cards were then left on the altar for the next team of intercessors. Pastors of many congregations in the Modesto area began meeting together weekly to pray for the city.
On January 15, 1995, the church began holding performances of a play, “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames,” directed by a husband and wife team from Reality Outreach of Niagara Falls, New York, a group founded by Rudy and Karen Krulik which makes use of local church members to produce dramas. The play was originally scheduled for three days, but due to popular demand, a total of twenty‑eight performances were held for a period of seven weeks, ending March 16. In an Article entitled Prayer and Fasting Precedes Revival in Modesto, CA, Jann Mathies, pastoral secretary of Calvary Temple reported in the April, 1995 edition of the Island Christian Herald (pp. 1, 17), that most nights, over nine hundred people responded to the altar call, in an auditorium that seats 2200 people.
According to Jann Mathies, “As of this writing, approximately 81,000 have attended the performance with 90% each night seeing it for the first time. At time of printing, 33,000 decision packets have been handed out, and of that, (confirmed) 20,000 returned with signed decision cards. Over 250 churches have been represented with hundreds of people added to the churches in our city and surrounding communities in less than one month. People come as early as 3:30 pm for a 7:00 pm performance. There are over 1,000 people waiting to get in at 5:00 pm, and by 5:30 pm the building is full. Thousands of people have been turned away; some from over 100 miles away. . . . Husbands and wives are reconciling through salvation; teenagers are bringing their unsaved parents; over 6,000 young people have been saved, including gang members who are laying down gang affiliation and turning in gang paraphernalia. . . . The revival is crossing every age, religion and socio‑economic status. . . . We have many volunteers coming in every day, and through the evening hours to contact 500 to 600 new believers by phone; special classes have also been established so that new believers may be established in the faith.”
At each performance, a show of hands was given each night indicating first‑time attenders, who numbered between 85 and 90 percent of the audience. In an unpublished letter to Madge Bowes of the Island Christian Herald dated April 17, 1995, Jann Mathies wrote that “when the doors were opened at 5:00 pm the people waiting would literally run for seats. By 5:30 pm the building was filled to more than capacity, with people standing along the walls and sitting on the floor in the altar area. . . . Hundreds responded to the altar [call] each night: 700, 800, 900, 1,000 plus each night; entire families, gang members, homosexuals, children, aged, businessmen, teens, all ages, races and socio‑economic groups were coming forward to receive the Lord.”
Revival was beginning to sweep through Modesto and the outlying areas. Some churches moved their Sunday evening service to Calvary Temple encouraging their congregation to attend the drama and bring unsaved friends and family members. Churches from many miles surrounding Modesto have been affected by the drama. Local Pastors and Priests of various denominations said there is a new passion and love for God in those who already had a relationship with the Lord, they have received many new converts and their churches are filling up. One local church had to add a third Sunday morning service and another had to ask their members to give up their seats so visitors could have a place to sit. . . . Local Bible book stores said they were selling more Bibles than usual. A local psychologist said much healing had happened in the lives of some of his clients who had attended the drama ‑ far more than what the usual counselling sessions had been able to do.
Karen Krulik, wife of Rudy Krulik, founder of Reality Outreach Ministries, had had a vision in prayer several years previously with respect to the drama, in which she saw long lines of people waiting to see it, and a church that was hosting the drama for a long period of time, giving unselfishly. During the time of the production, Rudy Krulik told the cast and crew of Calvary Temple that he believed that they had found the place that had been seen in the vision.
On Father’s Day, June 18, 1995, evangelist Steve Hill spoke at Brownsville Assembly of God, just outside of Pensacola, Florida. Although he was planning to be there for only one day, the power of God fell, and the pastor, John Kilpatrick, fell out under the power of God for a period of about 48 hours. The first meeting, which had been scheduled to conclude at noon, lasted until 4:00 pm. During a 5½ hour service that evening, the church asked Hill to extend his visit, and he began cancelling his appointments, including a planned trip to Russia. Crowds of 2,500 came five nights a week, from Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Nazarene, Catholic, and Church of Christ denominations. According to the National & International Religion Report (vol. 9, no. 19, September 4, 1995, p. 2). “Buses brought visitors from around the Southeast and other areas of the United States. Some came from overseas.”
On July 3, Scott D. Weberg of the new‑wine list wrote of his visit at the end of June:
The church ‘comfortably’ seats 2100, and they said that there were between 2400 and 2600 people every night. We all felt the power of God increase every night that we were there. We stayed each night til about 2:00 in the morning, and at that hour there was still about 1000 people standing, sitting, laying around the altar! Even on the week nights! And the evangelist and prayer ministry teams kept praying for people right on into the morning hours.
They asked all first‑time visitors to raise their hands each night ‑ and there were probably several hundred first timers every night. They estimate that over 10,000 people have attended during the first 2 weeks, and that over 3,000 have been saved, either in the meetings, or as a result of people going out from the meetings and leading someone to the Lord.
People have called the church from 7 different states to inquire about the move of God ‑ they had to put in a new phone system! They only had 2 or 3 lines, and now they have 8 lines, and they are all lit up all day long!
It was very powerful on the last night we were there. As I approached the altar, stepping over bodies, and wading through the mass of people that were always crowded up front, the presence of God became so strong that my legs got weak as I got closer to the front, without anyone even praying over me. I turned around to my friend and asked her if she could feel the presence of God get incredibly stronger as we approached the altar, or was it just me? She said, “Yes!”
. . . There were so many different denominations represented there ‑ even ministers of other denominations were visiting. One Baptist pastor cancelled his Wednesday night church service, and told his congregation to go with him to see what God was doing in Brownsville Assembly! A different Baptist church called up and offered to send nursery workers over to help, since they heard that the meetings were going every night until very late! There was more of a sense of Church unity than I would have expected. This Wednesday morning the evangelist and the pastor are putting on a free breakfast meeting just for pastors and their wives ‑ for the purpose of answering any of their questions and informing them of exactly what is going on.
On July 31, he wrote, “now there are about 4000 people attending nightly services (except Saturdays). The awesome part of the report was that [a total of] about 800 people got saved during the last 2 meetings of last week! . . . The meetings are usually going until 3:00 in the morning, and people are coming in buses!”
In an e‑mail message to Richard Riss (July 29, 1995), Beth McDuffie wrote, “I go to Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, FL. We have been having a move of God in our church for about 6 weeks now. People from 22 or more states have visited during this time, and we have had over 80,000 people come through the church doors during this time. Every night 150 or more people are getting saved or rededicating their lives to Jesus. It is amazing what is going on! At the end of the service there is a prayer time for people to receive a blessing from the Lord.”
On August 19, Beth McDuffie wrote:
God is still moving mightily in Brownsville. Just Thursday night we had a neat thing happen. Lindall, our music director, was still singing, but the praise team had stopped. The church was still filled with people being prayed for, and seeking God. As he sang another strong male voice joined him. He could not see who it was, but was so deep in the Spirit, he kept on singing. In a second another strong male voice joined him. Almost instantly the people were on their faces, praising the Lord because the power of God had so filled that place!! Many times angels have been seen in the Sanctuary, but this is the first time that we have heard them sing. They said that it was the most beautiful music they had ever heard. It was wonderful.
Friday night we did not even get to the preaching. A young woman stood up to give her testimony. God had turned her life around 180 degrees, and had given her the gift of intercession. (As she spoke, she shook so much she could barely hold the microphone.) When she began to tell how, during the altar calls, she could feel the hurt that God felt, the Spirit of God fell. The altars filled up, and people were weeping all over the church. It was like no other service we have had yet! (You never know what to expect … there is never a dull moment!)
We have also began to see some healings. One woman, who has diabetes, had a terrible sore on her foot. The doctors told her that if it did not get better soon they would have to take her foot. She came down one night for prayer, did a little bit of ‘carpet time’ and went home. The next day when she went to change the bandage the sore was all gone except for a very small spot in the middle. I am just waiting for her to come back and say that she is healed from the diabetes! I know there is nothing too hard for God.
James H. Doughty reported that on the evening of Wednesday, August 23, a mother and daughter went to the Pensacola Outpouring after the daughter had heard about the meetings at her school. The power of God fell on the daughter and she fell to the floor. The mother had never seen this happen before, and went to a phone to call for an ambulance. After they brought the daughter into the ambulance, the workers began checking her blood pressure.
She returned to consciousness and said that there was nothing wrong with her. She said that she wanted to go back into the church because she wanted more of God. She told her mother and the ambulance worker that God had touched her in a mighty way and that she wanted to go back out under the power of God.
Doughty also reported that a pastor from Nappa, Idaho went to the meetings and received prayer. His daughter had been attending Brownsville Assemblies of God. He did not get slain in the Spirit or feel any great move of God in his life, but he knew that God was moving and he wanted a drink of this New Wine. He told his daughter that he had been really dry and he needed a fresh touch from God. Before he left the meetings, God really touched him. After he went back to his church in Nappa, Idaho, he spoke on the Pensacola Outpouring. At the end of his sermon, he had an altar call, and the altar was full of people who wanted prayer. Almost the entire church fell under the power of God. Jesus is moving across the land. They are now having meetings 5 nights a week. The church has standing room only.
By early September, 116,000 people, including 35,000 first‑time visitors, had attended the church since mid‑June. According to the assistant pastor, Richard Crisco, an average of more than 100 people became Christians each night. Many of these people came directly from local bars to attend services, which usually lasted until about 2:00 am. “Prostitutes and drunkards stand next to men in three‑piece suits at the services,” one woman said (National & International Religion Report, vol. 9, no. 19, September 4, 1995, p. 2). Crisco reported that he has received telephone calls almost daily from visitors reporting that the Spirit of God is moving powerfully during meetings at their own churches after they have visited Brownsville.
Jim Paul of the Toronto Airport Vineyard reported from Thailand on June 26, 1995, as follows:
Meetings in Bangkok, Thailand increased each night to 1,700 by Saturday night, the third night. The average attendance was 1,000 per night with morning session approximately 250‑300 at the Fourth Presbyterian Church. An explosion took place Monday morning as I taught on the prophetic. Weeping, praying, visions and prophecies rang through the building. A specific vision of the harvest that Jesus would himself bring in was seen, also that Thailand would become a centre of revival for the region.
Regarding the Sunday night meeting, there was a great release of power. Don felt it was a highlight of his service as a pastor, especially surprised by a friend interpreter, Prayoon Lim, a spiritual leader in the land. There was an explosion of God, with 25 coming forward for salvation. Because the closed circuit TV was not set up I directed a second service with 300 people in the overflow. The testimonies were outstanding with people becoming drunk in the Spirit in the process.
Monday night, Sopal and Deborah, from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, gave testimony of how they entered the anointing and how their lives were changed. They also shared how the fire . . . fell from heaven over their city. He was shot to the floor during the testimony and then Deborah shared and she prayed for fire on Thailand, and the people entered into deep intercession. She too was thrown to the ground. The wailing in the congregation went on for ten minutes in the crowd of 1,000.
The committee has extended the meetings both morning and night for three more days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), with Carol Low and Jimmy Dowds, from the Vine Church, Dunfemline, Scotland, staying on. Meetings are also planned for three days in the north and three days in the south. Hunger for God is seen throughout the nation.
On September 19, 1995, Rolland E. Baker reported to Richard Riss that, in China, “The Toronto‑type manifestations began occurring last year, and Dennis [Balcombe] made a videotape . . . Dennis Balcombe is pastor in Hong Kong whose church is responsible for bringing literally hundreds of thousands of Bibles into China, and Dennis himself has spent much time in the provinces of Henan and Anhui where revival is so strong. It is quickly spreading to other provinces as well. Last year Christianity Today did a cover story on his ministry and the human rights abuses against Christians that he has exposed to Congress and England’s Parliament. I . . . have . . . his personal email messages to me telling of many meetings where thousands began to laugh and fall under the Spirit.”
On February 23, 1995, Dennis Balcombe reported to Rolland Baker as follows:
I just want to thank you for sending the file on the history of the revival. It is really very interesting. The Lord is doing the same thing all throughout China and even in Hong Kong. We were in Anhui two weeks ago where the Lord brought a tremendous spirit of joy and laughter. Sharon, who was interpreting for the American minister, just got lost in the Spirit with many of the Chinese preachers.
Also we had a tremendous release of the prophetic ministry as these brethren ministered to hundreds in China and almost everyone in our Church in a prophetic ministry.
Dennis Balcombe’s videotape, released in May of 1995, is entitled “A New Spirit In China: The ‘Toronto Blessing’ in China and Mass Conversions.” It contains live footage of Chinese Christians experiencing revival, and in a segment dated January 1, 1995 from the northern Onway province, people are can be seen experiencing, holy laughter and ‘drunkenness’ in the Spirit, falling to the floor, shaking, and vocalizing in unusual ways.
In an internet message from Siberia dated September 28, 1995, Michael Enos received word from the Resurrection Lutheran Worship Dance team from Charlotte, North Carolina as follows:
The worship and dance team consisted of seven women and five men. The trip was organized and led by Dwight Marable who has given us much advice over the past four months. Dwight has invited us to Kazakastan to preach to 750 leaders. . . .
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord came in power. Russians were dropping everywhere, many can running up after one particular worship series and said they saw many angels. One young boy came running up and said a carriage pulled up with all the angels around and the Lord stepped out and led a host of people and angels up a path. . . .
The Pastors were deeply touched and the wife had to be carried home drunk one night. They laughed for days. They were laughing, singing, dancing or crying for the past two weeks. God met them powerfully, Many got saved and many more asked questions.
Prophetic Predictions of the Revival of 1993‑199
In the January, 1995 issue of Charisma, p. 14, Cindy Jacobs wrote an article, “1995: A Critical Year,” in which she said that “many of the moves of God we are seeing in the 1990s were prophesied in the 1980s. I remember two gatherings of prayer leaders held in 1986 ‑ one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the other in Pasadena, California ‑ in which almost identical prophecies were given about a sweeping revival that would begin in Canada. As I write, sparks of revival are already leaping into the United States from Toronto!”
Wes Campbell, pastor of New Life Vineyard in Kelowna, B.C., Canada, also reported on some of the prophetic predictions of the awakening of 1993‑1995 in his book, Welcoming a Visitation of God (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House Publishers, 1995). In the second chapter of his book, he provided detailed descriptions of prophetic revelations concerning the visitation of 1993‑1995 which were given to Mike Bickle, Larry Randolph, Paul Cain, Marc DuPont, Randy Clark (through others), and David Yonggi Cho.
(c) Richard M. Riss, 1995. Used by permission.
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