The Real Deal
When the Holy Spirit began moving in 1994, the lives of Peter and Heather Jackson had already begun to unravel. John Arnott called them on January 21, 1994, to come to the meetings with Randy Clark because the Holy Spirit had come in power and something was happening. Heather was too discouraged to go, but that night at the meeting, Peter started laughing the laugh that has been heard around the world! Within four weeks they couldn’t get enough of the presence of God at the same time a number of people in their church had had quite enough of the Jacksons-lucky for us.
By the time 1995 came, the Jacksons were meeting in John and Carol Arnott’s home to pray about their future. They were ready to move on from church planting. As Peter soaked on the floor, the idea came: ‘Start a school to equip young people who are experiencing the revival and then send them out to the nations.’
Peter and Heather had been a part of two other ministries which had schools. They believed that imparting to the younger generation was pivotal to seeing the revival continue and change the Church. Along with John and Carol Arnott, they believed that local churches should have schools to equip saints for the work of the ministry.
In September 1995 the Toronto School of Ministry was born. The staff members were all former YWAMers who had experienced a new encounter with God in 1994. Now 12 years later, there have been 24 schools. Hundreds of young adults infected with the powerful leaven of the Kingdom of God have been sown in the nations. The SOM has grown into four different modules: the School of the Heart, the School of Worship and the School of Biblical Studies for 18-35 year-olds and the Leaders School of Ministry, which runs twice a year for Pastors and Ministry Leaders.
What is the secret curriculum? As the years have come and gone, Toronto has identified four values that keep the revival spreading to the uttermost parts of the world. It’s not a new gospel; it is the same one, the gospel of Jesus Christ, but preached through a filter of the unconditional love of God the Father. It’s not about cramming the student full of methods, but rather submitting the heart to the healing hand of the Holy Spirit and learning to receive God’s love first by experience. The students learn to hear God’s voice and to stir up the Holy Spirit within to flow out in prophecy to encourage the body of Christ and to evangelize unbelievers with power and love. The young people bond together in a life- changing encounter with God and one another as they become transparent about their shortcomings. Loving God and one another, the two greatest commandments, are the school’s prime directives.
Peter and Heather Jackson have never been to college. They don’t have degrees from seminary or Bible school. They don’t have a large church—or even a small one, but the sacrifice they made to give themselves to this generation started a ripple effect that has reached people in parts of the world as remote as India, South America, Africa, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and other parts of Asia. One young woman from Oxford, England came to the SOM, went home and started a school there in a church that has existed for over 1,000 years. Her story is in this magazine.
My own life has been dramatically changed by the school. In 1997, the Jacksons and the Hicks brought the school to Pittsburgh, PA on outreach to our congregation. My daughter, Sarah, came home from college to attend the meetings and met Sean, her husband. Whenever I look at my two grandsons, I wonder what would have happened had Peter and Heather not made the sacrifice. My son, Bill, and his wife, Caroline, who is from Northern Ireland, would never have met, either, nor would many other couples. Our kids not only carry our personal DNA, but the DNA of this move of the Spirit because of what the Lord did to them through this school.
Romance is not an intended result nor is it even encouraged, but it is more than coincidence that the word “Toronto” in the First Nation language actually means, “meeting place.” The School of Ministry is a God-meeting place for people who want to be changed so that they can change the world by modifying the lives around them with God’s love.
Peter and Heather Jackson are our friends because we found each other in Toronto. There is a unity of the Spirit between us that formed as we have basked in the awe of the presence of God on the floor in Toronto. We’ve often laughed with Peter and Heather about hoping that “our pathetic little lives” will have some impact on others. They don’t feel like apostles and would never put the word on their business cards, but if the sign of apostleship is leaving a trail behind you of Christian churches and lives branded with the love of Jesus Christ, I think when we look at them, we are looking at “the real deal.”
Originally Published March/April 2007 Editor Melinda Fish