Looking Back


For a number of years now God has blessed us with the precious outpouring of the Holy Spirit known to the world as the "Toronto Blessing," and to our hearts as "The Father's Blessing." We thank Him for pouring out His Spirit in our church near the airport and giving us the privilege of ministering to so many of His broken, hurting and worn-out children. He allowed this great move of the Spirit to sweep the earth bringing healing, restoration and refreshing the Church, launching His sons and daughters into powerful Spirit-led ministries.

In this special issue of STF we are celebrating, in a small way, some of what God has done. We have tried to capture the story so that even someone who might not be familiar with it might read and understand. If you have never heard of the "Toronto Blessing," or if you have heard negative reports, please take a moment and browse through this magazine. Read about the fruit in people’s lives and check out the testimonies.

The Toronto Blessing: What Is It? The outpouring of the Spirit, dubbed the Toronto Blessing by the British media, fell upon our church in January 1994, and swept the world, touching every nation and denomination. This is our story of how it began.

Renewal or Revival? Awakening, salvations, zeal of God imparted in people's hearts. These were characteristics of former revivals, according to Church historian Richard Riss. He believes they also characterize the Toronto Blessing. Are we therefore actually in one of the greatest revivals the world has ever known?

A Skeptic Experiences the Toronto Blessing: Warren Marcus, well-known member of the TV committee with the National Religious Broadcasters, and an award-winning TV filmmaker, heard reports of a church in Toronto where sensational events were taking place. Were they of God, or not? He came to investigate. Never had he seen anything like it in his many years in Christian broadcasting. This is the story of how the "Toronto Blessing" changed his life.

Evangelical Heroes Speak: The uniqueness of the phenomenon we have observed in renewal has met skepticism and criticism from many in the contemporary Church worldwide. Church historian Richard Riss answers critics' charges with the words of greatly respected evangelical leaders across the centuries.

An Elder Brother Joins the Party: How does an outspoken critic of renewal experience a complete turn-around? Tony Higton, one of Britain's staunchest opponents of the renewal had a "Saul of Tarsus" experience with God. In this article he tells his own story.

The features It's All About Love and Breaking The Chains speak of the healing God has poured out through His Spirit. Through TACF He seems to be revealing His Father-heart to the Church and His love for the individual believer. Hundreds of thousands have been refreshed, strengthened and revived by God’s love when their lives seemed hopeless.

Fruit of The Kingdom: Dr. Margaret Poloma, who conducted a sociological study of the fruit of renewal through the University of Akron, Ohio, shared her original findings with TACF and Spread The Fire Magazine. Her subsequent follow-up study revealed even better results: not only were people touched of God and changed, but the effects have lasted.
From Division to Multiplication: Two years into renewal, the administration of the move of God shifted dramatically.

The Association Vineyard of Churches under the leadership of the late John Wimber chose to withdraw from fellowship with TACF. The Vineyard leader felt he could no longer field questions about the renewal, nor shoulder responsibility for it from his base in California. At the time of dissociation, TACF published this article in Spread The Fire.

All in God's Time: This chronological calendar compiled by Destiny Image Digest offers an overview of the history surrounding the renewal.

I hope this Special Issue of Spread The Fire can impart a glimpse of the magnitude of what God has done in our time through His Spirit. We still stand in awe at His grace through which He has given us the privilege of sharing in His work in such a mighty way. But the River of His Spirit flows on with fresh anointing and fresh purpose. Therefore, as we reminisce on the past, let's celebrate the future, and say, "More, Lord!"

IssuesJohn Arnott