Being at First Methodist for a second time was the best of times and the worst of times. It was the best because we were reconnected with good friends. The embraced us with open arms, not even asking questions. As we were healing, they were there for support. It was the worst because we had tasted what worship and freedom in the Spirit was like. No matter how much we tried, it wasn’t the same. We weren’t there very long before we realized that it wouldn’t be permanent. As we got stronger, we know we had to go, but where? As we began to pray, we knew that our destiny was still tied to the Vineyard and to church planting. The first step was to begin to reconnect with our friends at the Atlanta Vineyard.
We didn’t know it, but while we were away, the Atlanta Vineyard had also been in turmoil. When we came back, they were just coming out of a very bad period. Johnny and Ann were very wounded, an had been ministered to by some old friends from years past. The friends were Tony and Sandy Cavaner. They were very gifted and very prophetic. They had both spoken into Johnny and Ann’s life and had helped bring clarity and healing to a number if issues. So when we came into the Vineyard, Tony and Sandy had just moved to Atlanta and had become associate pastors at the Atlanta Vineyard. Little did we know how much of an influence this couple would eventually have in our lives.
We came back to the Atlanta Vineyard like we hadn’t left. We immediately started a new kinship group and it began to grow. I was meeting with Johnny weekly. We were running together and it was as if we had never left. We truly loved Johnny and Ann. I think we liked their pioneer spirit. They were willing to risk it all to see the Kingdom advanced. He didn’t have elders or a board, but informally we were in the inner circle when it came to decision-making. We honored each other and the four of us became very close. As least as close as you can become living on opposite sides of town. We would go to concerts together and hang out when we could. When they would have leadership meetings at their house, we would be there. It was during this time that we also began to get to know Tony and Sandy better. They were an intriguing couple. We had never met any one quite like them. They had become small group pastors. The small groups were growing, and Julia and I had become area pastors. We were responsible for working with about four small group leaders.
Tony and Sandy began to meet with all the area pastors on a regular basis for worship and prayer. These meetings were great, and were the beginnings of us learning about impartation. We met at least once a month and it was life to us. We were being prophesied over, and poured into like we had never been before. Julia and I loved Tony and Sandy also. Every time we were around them, we received life. That year was awesome. We were growing so much. The Vineyard was thriving. Worship was great and home groups were growing. It was a great time of peace and growth for us. It was toward the end of the year, and the Atlanta Vineyard was taking a team over to Portsmouth England. We were doing a conference at a little Anglican church. I think we took a team of ten or so. The team consisted of Johnny, Ann, Tony, Sandy, Julia and myself and a few others. Johnny and Tony were going to do the teaching, and then we were going to pray for healing and infilling of the Holy Spirit. We were excited, but our expectations were pretty low. When we prayed back then, we were excited to see eyelids flutter or someone begin to perspire. We had never seen many manifestations and we weren’t looking for anything.
Boy were we surprised when, as we were praying for them, they begin to fall down and start shaking. The first night it looked like a war zone. People were all over the floor. They had fallen on each other and were everywhere. WE didn’t know anything about catching them. Shoot, we had never seen anyone fall. While they were on the ground, some were laughing, some were crying and most were shaking like they has electricity going through their bodies. At first, we thought it was all demonic and we started trying to cast spirits out of them. But after a while when nothing was changing, Tony said to look in their eyes. Their eyes were perfectly clear. It wasn’t demonic. If it wasn’t demonic, it had to be God. So we begin to pray and bless what God was doing. We say many lives changed. Night after night is was the same way. We just didn’t understand what was going on. We had never seen anything like it. This was in November 1993. In January 1994 at the Toronto Airport Vineyard Holy Spirit fell in a youth meeting. This renewal shook the world, and radically changed Julia and my life. I believe that this time in England in November was just a precursor to what happened in Toronto. Our lives were about to be radically shaken, and our destinies changed forever.