Final Decade, 20th Century 1994
May 29—Brompton, London – Eleanor Mumford
The Anglican Church, Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), near Kensington in London, has been powerfully affected by the current awakening—and widely reported in the media.
Eleanor Mumford, assistant pastor of the South—West London Vineyard and wife of John Mumford (the pastor and the overseer of the Vineyard Churches in Britain), told a group of friends about her recent visit to the Toronto Airport Vineyard in Canada. When she prayed for them, the Holy Spirit profoundly affected them.
Nicky Gumbel, Curate of Holy Trinity Brompton, was there. He rushed back from this meeting with his wife, Pippa, to the HTB church office in South Kensington where he was late for a staff meeting. The meeting was ready to adjourn. He apologized, told what had happened, and was then asked to pray the concluding prayer. He prayed for the Holy Spirit to fill everyone in the room. The church newspaper, “HTB in Focus,” June 12, 1994, reported the result:
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 (Riss 1995).
The church leaders invited Eleanor Mumford to preach at Holy Trinity Brompton the next Sunday, May 29, at both services. After both talks, she prayed for the Holy Spirit to come upon the people. Some wept. Some laughed. Many came forward for prayer and soon lay overwhelmed on the floor.
Cassette tapes of those services circulated in thousands of churches in England. A fresh awakening began to spread through the churches. These are some of Eleanor Mumford’s comments:
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 arerecently 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 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….
And so … 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?” …
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, theysort of savour it 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 generosity of Jesus to His people….
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 book 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….
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, “I 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 (Riss 1995).
The church newsletter describing that Sunday’s services circulated widely and triggered publicity in the media. Crowds flocked to the church in the following weeks, especially ministers. An HTB staff member referred to the “Toronto Blessing,” a term the media quickly adopted to describe this enthusiasm and fervor for God. This renewal, refreshing, or touch of revival spread to over 7,000 churches in England within two years.
Along with other expressions of the deep impact of God’s Spirit, this blessing helps to bring fresh vitality to Christian life and witnessing around the world.
© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.