Sunday—six months after Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley launched daily meetings
in the small Lakeland, Fla., community and left without warning Aug. 11 in a
cloud of scandal.
pastor Stephen Strader, who announced on a blog Oct. 2 that, with the outpouring
ending, he intends to set up a global apostolic base in Lakeland. “Ignited
Church has had a vision [for] an International Apostolic Center. The Lakeland
Outpouring has catapulted our vision forward.”
apostolic center, he envisions a place for hosting conferences, special events
and training workshops. He also announced the creation of Ignited Network of
Ministries (INM), an initiative to connect Ignited Church with Lakeland-spawned
that he and his wife were separating, the 10,000-seat air dome used for the
revival meetings was taken down. Bentley resigned his position at Fresh Fire,
stepped down from public ministry and faded from the public eye.
that Bentley had confessed to an inappropriate relationship with a female staff
member. At the time, a senior board member told Charisma that Bentley’s
alcohol consumption also had “crossed the line.”
since taken the lead in helping Bentley find healing and restoration. Joyner
appeared on the platform in Lakeland in June when Bentley publicly submitted
himself to the oversight of apostolic leaders Bill Johnson, John Arnott and Ché
assist him in Bentley’s restoration. He admitted that the process would not be
easy. “Todd does have some serious issues he must deal with, and he knows it
more than anyone,” Joyner said.
involvement in the Lakeland Outpouring sparked genuine renewal among Christians
despite criticism of his theology and character stirring among some charismatic
while his wild tactics often tempered the enthusiasm of other leaders. When
praying for healing, the tattooed evangelist was known to hit the sick in the
stomach with his knee in a move more common among wrestlers than preachers.
Bentley even recounted kicking a woman in the face in an act of “obedience to
to overlook Bentley’s peculiar methods for the sake of what they saw as “fruit.”
They claimed the revival stirred many Christians worldwide to pursue God with a
revival like Toronto and Brownsville,” said Los Angeles-area pastor Ahn,
referring to the Toronto Blessing and the Pensacola Revival, both of which
occurred during the 1990s. “Each wave has its own life span.”
Charisma that many people were deeply saddened over the revelations of
Bentley’s moral failings, “but people have also come to grips with the fact that
it was never about Todd, it is really about God.”
level,” Johnson said. “There are fires of revival all over Europe that are the
direct result of what God was doing in Lakeland.”
largely because daily meetings were broadcast on GOD TV, a satellite-based TV
network with millions of viewers in 200 nations.
co-founders Rory and Wendy Alec issued a statement defending the outpouring and
Bentley’s work in Lakeland. “[Todd] was consistently and unrelentingly
criticized, maligned [and] persecuted,” they stated. “The attacks grew
increasingly violent, and the heartbreaking thing was that so much of it came
from the church.”
because tons of e-mails from people claiming to be healed, transformed or
revived inspired a “fear of the Lord” that motivated them to continue the
broadcasts. “It was not a mistake,” the Alecs said. “It was not by mistake. We
believe it was a clear instruction from the Lord” to air the meetings.
current revival meetings in Dudley, England.
globe, leaders who are ministering to Bentley said they are not overly concerned
with seeing him quickly return to public ministry. “The focus is not of Todd the
evangelist; it is on Todd the person,” Johnson said. “We want him healed up, not
because of what he can do, but because God loves him and treasures him as a
son.” —Paul Steven Ghiringhelli