The Toronto Blessing: the outpouring continues
Adrian Warnock quoted (with permission) the following which I originally wrote privately to him:
I have also experienced the Toronto Blessing, although in my case only this year!I realise that to put it this way may seem surprising to some. After all, the Toronto Blessing, at least as understood here in the UK, was something rather specific and special (not to mention controversial) which happened in 1994, first in Toronto and then elsewhere including here. Adrian's own account of these events is one of many. And perhaps it would be better to reserve the specific name for those events, which I missed out on at the time partly because I was working outside the country. So, more precisely, I might say that what I experienced this year was the activity of the Holy Spirit accompanied by the same kinds of phenomena which were associated with the Toronto Blessing. These manifestations were not in fact new in 1994. And they have continued in many places since then, including at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF) after which the Blessing was named, because it started there, under the ministry of John and Carol Arnott.
For me there was also a more specific link with the original Toronto Blessing. A few years ago some people from my church visited TACF and were touched by the continuing activity of the Holy Spirit there. In 2004 I think two of them attended a conference in the UK organised by Catch the Fire Ministries, which is an offshoot of TACF. At this they got to know Lori Lawlor, who is the Arnotts' daughter. Soon afterwards she was asked to lead a weekend conference at my church, assisted by a team from the church in Birmingham, Haven Renewal Centre, of which she is one of the two pastors (both ladies, sorry if that's a problem for anyone!). Since then I have been one of a group which has twice visited Haven for their Revival Days conferences, in November 2005 and February 2006, and we are going for a third time this month.
Given the family link to TACF, it was hardly a suprise to find that at Haven the Holy Spirit is expected to work in similar ways to the original Toronto Blessing. It seems to me that the Holy Spirit only works in the ways in which he (or she or it ?? - maybe there will be another posting on this sometime) is given permission to work. So in churches where noisy phenomena are not expected or not welcome, they don't usually happen. But when no barriers are erected the Holy Spirit works in all kinds of unexpected ways. He touches in a deep way the lives of people who are sometimes deeply hurt. And so it is not surprising that there are some strong reactions, even sometimes things which one might not expect to be the work of the Holy Spirit; but maybe it would be better to say that these things are coming from an imperfect human spirit as it is touched by God's Spirit of holiness.
So, yes, I saw and heard people acting in strange ways. I don't know that all of it was the genuine work of the Holy Spirit, but I am sure that some of it was - because it was happening to people who I know and trust, and eventually to myself. At the November conference I felt the Holy Spirit working in my life and helping to heal some deep issues, but was not much involved with any unusual manifestations. In February more deep issues were dealt with, and I also experienced properly for the first time some of the manifestations in my own life. No, I didn't roll about laughing in the Spirit for hours (but I did laugh a bit), and I didn't roar like a lion (although someone else did). But the Holy Spirit did make my whole body shake for several minutes, and this has happened more than once - and amazingly I was able to stay on my feet! And the fruit of this has been positive in a way which has lasted at least for a few months, with a definite upturn in my personal relationship with God.
I don't know what God is going to do with me and the rest of our group at the next Revival Days conference, but I am confident that it will be something very good!