Final Decade, 20th Century 1994
January 20—Toronto, Canada -John Arnott, Randy Clark
John Arnott, senior pastor at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (then called the Toronto Airport Vineyard Christian Fellowship) tells how the Father’s blessing came to them in 1994:
In October 1992, Carol and I started giving our entire mornings to the Lord, spending time worshipping, reading, praying and being with him. For a year and a half we did this, and we fell in love with Jesus all over again….
We heard about the revival in Argentina, so we travelled there in November 1993 hoping God’s anointing would rub off on us somehow. We were powerfully touched in meetings led by Claudio Freidzon, a leader in the Assemblies of God in Argentina. … We came back from Argentina with a great expectation that God would do something new in our church.
We had a taste of what the Lord had planned for us during our New Year’s Eve service as we brought in 1994. People were prayed for and powerfully touched by God. They were lying all over the floor by the time the meeting ended. We thought, “This is wonderful, Lord. Every now and then you move in power.” But we did not think in terms of sustaining this blessing.
We invited Randy Clark, a casual friend and pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in St. Louis, Missouri, to speak because we heard that people were being touched powerfully by God when he ministered. We hoped that this anointing would follow him to our church.
Yet Randy and I were in fear and trembling, hoping God would show up in power, but uncertain about what would happen. We were not exactly full of faith—but God was faithful anyway.
On January 20, 1994, the Father’s blessing fell on the 120 people attending that Thursday night meeting in our church. Randy gave his testimony, and ministry time began. People fell all over the floor under the power of the Holy Spirit, laughing and crying. We had to stack up all the chairs to make room for everyone. Some people even had to be carried out.
We had been praying for God to move, and our assumption was that we would see more people saved and healed, along with the excitement that these would generate. It never occurred to us that God would throw a massive party where people would laugh, roll, cry and become so empowered that emotional hurts from childhood were just lifted off them. The phenomena may be strange, but the fruit this is producing is extremely good (Arnott 1995, 58–59).
People were saved and healed, more in the next two years than ever before at that church. Other visitors experienced this renewal, discovering a new deep love for the Lord, which they then passed on to others.
Word spread. Thousands flew or drove to visit the little church at the end of the runway at Toronto International Airport. The church had to relocate into larger premises. The blessing still continues. British journalists nicknamed this renewal the “Toronto Blessing.”
The impact of the Spirit in Toronto continues. Steve Long, a pastor at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, sent this e-mail message to John Arnott on August 29,1996:
At the Intercession Prayer Meeting:
The Presence of God was particularly strong to-day and one gentleman came forward to share what I thought [would be what] God was saying to the Intercession Group, but actually he shared that he was put to sleep by the Holy Spirit in the meeting and when he woke up his back was completely healed. He shared that he had blown three discs in his back and he knows that he was healed. John, it turns out that he is a chiropractor. No one prayed for him. He shared his testimony at the evening service. Praise be to God! Perhaps the new paradigm is being ushered in with a new level of power and sovereign healings.
A Jewish mom and dad plus their daughter and her boyfriend were saved last night after being powerfully impacted by the Holy Spirit.
Salvation. Healing. Release from oppression. Weeping. Laughter. New zeal for the Lord. Leaders impacted by the Spirit of God finding their own churches similarly impacted. These results have been reported by hundreds of thousands of visitors to Toronto.
It is controversial. As with all strong moves of God’s Spirit, people react in many ways. The media highlights anything unusual or strange. However, the vast majority of people prayed for at Toronto report profound blessing, and, in turn, bless others with their zeal for God.
John Arnott and teams from Toronto continue to ignite revival fires across America and around the world. For example, in January of 1995, John Arnott, as well as Wes Campbell of New Life Vineyard Fellowship in Kelowna, British Columbia, began speaking for two or three days each at Mott Auditorium on the campus of the U.S. Center for World Mission. By March 24 people gathered for meetings five nights a week, usually going very late. John Arnott conducted powerful meetings there on Friday—Sunday, March 24–26, hosted by Harvest Rock Church, a Vineyard Fellowship. Then the combined churches in the area continued with nightly meetings on Monday, March 27. Later that settled to meetings from Wednesday to Sunday each week. Then Wednesdays were reserved for cell groups, and meetings continued from Thursday to Sunday nights.
Che Ahn, senior pastor of Harvest Rock Church wrote in their monthly magazine, Wine Press, of August 1995:
I am absolutely amazed at what God has done during the past five months. After John Arnott exploded onto the scene with three glorious and unforgettable renewal meetings, he encouraged the pastors of our church to begin nightly protracted meetings. My mind immediately rejected the idea. I thought to myself, “The meetings were great because you were here, but how can we sustain
nightly meetings without someone like John Arnott to draw the crowd?” The answer to my question was an obvious one. Someone greater than John Arnott would show up each night at the meetings—Jesus. And each night since we began March 27, 1995, God has shown up to heal, to save, and to touch thousands of lives. There is no accurate way to measure the impact that the renewal meetings are having in our city. I do believe that we are making church history, and we are in the midst of another move of the Holy Spirit that is sweeping the world. From March 27 to July 27, we have had 99 nightly renewal meetings. We have averaged about 300 people per night, some nights with more that 1200 people and others with a small crowd of 120.
More than 25,000 people have walked through the doors of Mott Auditorium, many of them happy, repeat customers. We have seen more that 300 people come forward to rededicate their lives or give their hearts to Jesus Christ. These statistics don’t come close to representing other evangelistic fruit of those who have attended the meetings. For example, two church members, Justine Bateman and Jeff Eastridge, had an outreach at Arroyo High School and more than 60 young people gave their hearts to the Lord!
We have seen marvellous healings from the hand of the Lord, many of them spontaneous without anyone specifically praying for the healing. I wish I had the time and space to share all the wonderful fruit I have seen at
the renewal meetings. Seeing the need to share what God is doing, I felt that we are producing this church newsletter to share these testimonies of lives that have been impacted by God during this current outpouring of the Holy Spirit” (Ahn 1995).
© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.