The Lakeland Healing Revival
In mid-April this year, I received a phone call from my friend, Evangelist Todd Bentley. He was excited. “John, it’s breaking out down here! I’m in Lakeland Florida, and we have been having nightly meetings for almost two weeks! What do you think?”
I said, “Todd, do whatever you have to do, but keep going. Rent a bigger place, hire some more people, but keep it going!”
Todd went on to tell me of the many significant miracles that they were witnessing over those two weeks. Deafness, blindness, even paralyzed people in wheelchairs were being healed. Apparently there were hundreds of healings, and revival was beginning once again in Lakeland, Florida. Todd had begun receiving precise words of knowledge that were driving a healing revival to a whole new level.
For over ten years I have watched Todd Bentley grow into an up-and-coming radical young evangelist. He is absolutely committed to winning his generation for Christ, and although he is 32 years of age, he has already held many giant crusades in India and Africa and has much experience holding meetings, conferences and schools both in North America and around the world.
Todd sports tattoos all over his body. This body-pierced former drug addict is not, as Lee Grady put it in his Charisma article, “your grandmother’s evangelist.” We have had Todd with us in Toronto many times and have always witnessed abundant healings and salvations occurring in the meetings. And I have also attended his conferences in Abbotsford, BC as well.
When I got Todd’s call, Carol and I were spending a few days together with a group of leaders in revival including Randy and Deanne Clark, Bill and Beni Johnson, Che and Sue Ahn, Heidi and Rolland Baker, Georgian and Winnie Banov and Carol and me. We all called Todd back and left an extended message on his phone, cheering him on and encouraging him to go for it.
Todd had told me that God TV was going to carry the meetings live, so I wasn’t surprised to learn soon afterward that leaders from all over the world were watching and then began to flock into Lakeland “to see this thing which has come to pass.”
During the third week of meetings, Trevor Baker, a PIH pastor from Dudley, UK, near Birmingham, went over to Lakeland for ‘more.’ Trevor, who pastors a thriving river church at home, goes several times a year to the north of India where he has been holding giant crusades with powerful fruit.
After Trevor’s first trip to Florida, he returned home to Dudley and began holding nightly revival meetings that are now having an impact in England. During the third week, Steve Long and Dan Slade from our team in Toronto attended while I was on a mission in the Philippines. Upon returning, Steve and Dan reported,
“John, this is the real deal! People are finding Christ, and multitudes with various sicknesses, pains and chronic conditions are being healed by God’s power. It is clearly a new, fresh wave of revival; and it is spreading because the many being healed by the power of God are testifying.”
By this time I couldn’t wait to get there myself and experience it firsthand. Many friends called and emailed asking, “What do you think?” By now I had heard about Rob DeLuca having prophesied over Todd a few weeks before the meetings in Florida, that revival fire in Central Florida would begin at his meetings. Our own friends in Florida were attending almost every night, and we realized that something was definitely up in the Kingdom of God.
2008, A YEAR OF BREAKTHROUGH
I had known for some time that 2008 was going to be a breakthrough year of new beginnings. On Jan 20, 2008, we marked the completion of 14 years of revival in Toronto, and we were ready for a new beginning. I began thinking about the many dreams, visions and prophetic words that Carol and I have received both recently and over the years. Our response to them has been to we have been to believe for another great wave for about ten years now.
Recently, Sandra Long, wife of our Senior Pastor, had two dreams. In both of them, there were huge waves. The question to us from those dreams was, “Would we jump into those waves or not? Could this Lakeland Revival be it? I was about to find out.”
Carol and I arrived in Lakeland on May 20, seven weeks after it began. There were thousands of people there, worshipping their hearts out before the Lord. We were in the Lakeland Convention Center that held about 8,000 people. There were five to six thousand people in the meeting on that Tuesday night. We worshipped the Lord, led by Roy Fields, with all the older renewal songs that everybody knew.
Carol and I were experiencing the sweet Presence of the Holy Spirit. After about two hours, Todd Bentley seized the microphone and full of faith and boldness, released a string of words of knowledge, and the miracles began. It was powerful and very moving. We had front row seats on the platform, so I could see everyone’s intense facial expressions as they shared about the miracle which had just happened to them!
First I noticed the throngs of people coming forward to give testimony of healing: “My arm has straightened out fully after 12 years of limited movement following a car accident;” “My three year old’s eyes are no longer crossed;” “The arthritis in my hips and knees has totally gone.”
There were others testifying of getting out of their wheelchairs and who were still walking after three days.
One man had Parkinson’s disease and had been unable to talk according to testimony of his wife and family, yet he was now speaking normally.
One that really touched my heart was a little girl now 8 years old who had fallen out a window when she was three. She had sustained a serious concussion and suffered continuous severe headaches for five years. She was totally pain free. And on and on it went, “The tumors disappeared in my body”; “My ear just popped open and I can hear clearly”
“I was blind in this eye for 9 years and now I can see perfectly!”
We were in tears, happily rejoicing for all the lives and families that were being changed by God’s power right before our eyes. And yes, we are used to seeing miracles, but not a flood of them like this; and not nearly so many serious diseases and conditions being healed. It was wonderfully breathtaking.
We noticed of course, that it is the same Holy Spirit, yet it is different. There is a more aggressive, ‘no nonsense’ feel about it as though God is definitely up to some serious Kingdom business. I was struck by the number of young people that were there. Families with their children, teenagers, and young adults all full of excitement to see Jesus at work healing bodies and transforming lives. Personally, I thought it was awesome.
IS THE GOSPEL BEING PREACHED?
People are asking, “Is the Gospel being preached?” and “Are the lost being saved?” Definitely yes on both counts, but the focus here is a healing revival that is contagious and transferable. As it did at Azusa Street, the revival happened after thirsty Christians returned home to their churches and ministries. As they have in Toronto also, multitudes of leaders came and caught the fire as God revolutionized them on the inside and empowered them to go home with renewed love for God and boldness in spreading the Gospel.
Lakeland is similar. The vast majority are Christians; leaders who realize that there is much more for them in God and who urgently want to bring a healing revival back to their home churches. This is what I love about it the most.
Although Todd is a strong personality, what is happening is not personality based. He is releasing his team to not only take some of the meetings at night in Lakeland, but to go and start revivals the world over. Trevor Baker in Dudley hosted Jerame Nelson to launch the meetings there. They are still going.
We hosted three members of Todd’s Fresh Fire team in Toronto. Jeff Garvan came in June 19-22; Bojan Jancic was there July 19 to 30th and Jerame Nelson was also there from July 7-16th. They are coming to Toronto in June and July to help launch us into a greater healing revival in Toronto.
We are so hungry for it.
I really believe that it is not enough to just watch this on TV or over the Internet. There is a corporate dynamic that is best experienced by being physically present. I am well aware that all cannot go, but if possible, you really need to, in order to get the right perspectives on everything that is happening.
And this healing revival is now spreading all over the world. Our friend Bob Brasset, after a week in Lakeland went to Australia and the miracles following his ministry have now gone to a whole new level. There are now several ‘fires’ burning around the world, most of which I don’t even know about. My friend and colleague Dan Slade, has just returned from Ukraine where the Holy Spirit fell in power that they have not experienced in 10 years. Bath, England is another hot spot where an unusual presence of God’s fire is falling. Many there are reporting supernatural healings as God’s Presence comes upon them.
WHAT ABOUT DOCTRINE AND PRACTICE?
Some have expressed concerns about doctrine and practice. They are asking about accountability, and wonder who speaks into this for input and correction if need be. Some are openly critical. Others are non-committal, cautiously observing from a distance.
The Christian world as well as the secular world is waking up to the fact that something significant is happening. I do know that Todd and Fresh Fire Ministries have many friends and healthy relationships that have developed over the years. Many of these are coming along side with their advice and help, which is as it should be.
At the end of the day, this is a powerful end-time move of the Spirit that will affect us all. By the grace of God, Todd will move in wisdom as well as power and in character as well as giftedness and carry us closer to our end goal of seeing the earth filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14) with the Lord being honored and glorified throughout it all.
Let’s all remind ourselves that this revival is barely three months old, and it has already having a worldwide impact. I believe that God is giving the Western church another chance for revival and national change. He alone knows how desperately we need it. The big question put before us is this:
Are we going to embrace revival?
I say yes, with all of its issues and unanswered questions; with all the loose ends, various personalities and personal agendas; with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications. (And believe me, I know...) I still say, yes, we must have the Holy Spirit moving. We must have revival, and it must be ever increasing.
The greatest revival the world has ever seen happened in the Book of Acts and in the days of the early church. It was not a leaderless revival. It was led initially by the apostles and those whom they discipled. It was not without people problems, heresies and persecutions, but ordinary people, farmers, housewives, fishermen and slaves, spread the fiery good news all over the known world, and demonstrated the Kingdom of God with mighty signs and wonders, according to the promise of Jesus from John 14:12.
They evangelized the entire known world.
This is what must happen again. I want to be part of it, don’t you? I want to nurture it, pastor it, help it and encourage it. This is indeed a year of change and new beginnings. I can hardly wait to see what the next few months will bring.
If you are still a little skeptical, let me encourage you, do not to look only at what God is not doing, or at those things that are out of your comfort zone. Look at what God is doing! People are being healed, the dead have been raised, families are being restored and given hope once again as loved ones are restored to health.
Many people are finding Christ as Savior. It feels like God is arising to once again to shake the earth. Let the earth be shaken, let the earth be filled! Let everyone who embraced what God has done in Toronto also embrace what God is doing now so that the lost may be saved and Jesus Christ may be glorified.
MY PERSONAL THANKS...
Thank you Todd Bentley and the Fresh Fire team for hosting this wonderful move for the body of Christ. Thank you for your dedicated prayer life of hours in His Presence. Thank you for your boldness and great faith.
Thank you for your persistence and your faithfulness over the years and for being teachable and even correctable at times. Thank you for going for it with all of your heart and soul. You are awesome, and your team of workers and interns are awesome, too. May the Lord grant all of you wisdom, faith, favor and grace to see this through for the long haul.
Thank you, Roy Fields, for the sweetness of your spirit and for the powerful call and gifting on your life. You faithfully lead this massive crowd into the holy and awesome Presence of God night after night, you and all the amazing team of musicians with you. Thank you, Stephen Strader, and all of you at Ignited Church in Lakeland for hosting revival again and for loving it. I know that you haven’t had proper rest in weeks.
And thank you Rory and Wendy Alex, and all at GOD TV for the faith and courage to put Revival, raw and powerful on prime time television for the entire world to see.
Thousands are now experiencing God, and being healed and touched by the lovely, powerful Presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It is amazing that the greater audience is not the thousands attending Lakeland, but the multiplied thousands who are participating in their homes.