After Mother’s Day 1994, Julia and I both wanted to take a trip to Toronto and experience for ourselves what was going on. Rumors were rampart. The manifestations had people either talking about the power of God or the power of the devil. Hank Hanagraf, “The Bible Answer man” was calling Toronto a cult and warning everyone about the antichrist. It was really getting vocal. But we had seen such fruit from what happened to us in England and then we saw fruit in our own life and other’s lives from that Mother’s Day service. We had friends, including Tony and Sandy, visit Toronto and they really believed it was a move of God. These were people that we trusted, credible witnesses. So, in July we were able to get away and fly up for a visit.
Maybe I was just naïve, but I wanted Jennifer and Lisa to experience it all with us, so they went as well. Looking back on it all, that was a big mistake. It wasn’t a mistake because of the affect it had on Jennifer and Lisa, but it was a mistake because of what happened with Julia. I’ll have more on that a little later. We flew into Toronto and went to the hotel. The service didn’t start until 7 but it was a small building and we were told that if we didn’t get there before 5 we wouldn’t get a seat. So at 4:30 or so, we were all in line to get into this little building on the other side of the airport. The Toronto Airport Vineyard was a church of around 400. I had a sanctuary that packed might seat 450, and there was an overflow room that might seat 100. They had been having meetings every night since January 14th, so it was around six months. I can’t imagine how tired the people were. There was childcare every night along with ministry teams and ushers. These people had basically put their normal life on hold for this “Revival”. We all pray for revival, we just don’t realize the cost. Then when it comes, we aren’t ready. I pray that when the next move of God comes in Atlanta that we will be ready and willing to pay the cost. I was excited and more than willing to stand in line. I think that Julia was too, but the girls weren’t quite as excited and that caused Julia more worry than me.
We were in the middle of the line and I think that they opened the doors at 6. The good news is we got in the main room and got seats. The bad news was that so many “weirdo’s” also got in. I really didn’t know what else to call them. They were already manifesting. Some were walking funny and acting like they were drunk while others were jerking even when they were sitting down. We had never seen anything like it, and it was really strange. But I was determined. I felt more strongly that the Holy Spirit was there, and I wanted all that I could get. But then there was the big overweight guy in the seat across from us. He had his eyes clesed like he was asleep. But instead of breathing or even snoring, he was roaring. Yes, roaring about every third breath. It wasn’t super loud, but loud enough to be noticed. That pretty well was the last straw. I could see that the girls really were uncomfortable and that was making Julia uncomfortable too.
Right now, I probably need to take a time out from the story and talk about the “roaring”. It was one of the manifestations that had stirred up so much criticism and had even pastors in the Vineyard divided. I’ll try to paraphrase what John Arnott said in his book when he wrote about the manifestations. John was out of town, and he called up the next morning to ask how the service the night before had gone. By this time Toronto was getting people coming from all around the world. It was amazing how many people were there from Europe and even Asia. Anyway the staff member said that there had been an extremely good meeting, but they had had an unusual manifestation. This Chinese pastor had been on his hands and knees roaring. John said that he was shocked and asked if they had stopped it. The staff member said that they had not stopped it because they had sensed that God was in it. John was upset, knowing what was going to be said on the radio and the newspapers. So that night he was able to talk with the pastor that “roared”. The pastor said that as he was being prayed for, a mighty jealousy and love for the people of China came over him. He felt so determined to free them from all the oppression. It was then that in the Spirit he saw the Lion of Judah roaring over his nation. Then it was as if the Lion of Judah caused him to roar in agreement with him. The pastor said to John Arnott. “For hundreds of years, the serpent has oppressed and ruled my nation. The Lion of Judah wants us to roar over it and set it free. John Arnott had the man give his testimony that night. After that it seemed that roaring was becoming a little more common place in the meetings.
Now, back to our story. So here we were waiting for the service really getting freaked out with some of the manifestations. But I was more determined than ever. We had come this far and I was not going back with out getting all that I felt God had for me. The first night, the worship was awesome and there was a guest preacher who really wasn’t very good. Then we had ministry time. It was well organized. Everyone who wanted ministry was to come down and line up on the multiple lines of duct tape that were on the floor. Oh yes, we had to move all the chairs out of the way and stack them on the sides. So ministry started and everyone was lined up standing. Two hours later, we still hadn’t been prayed for. Finally we were prayed for, but we were so tired, that we were in no condition to receive and we didn’t. So after about seven hours total, we were back in the hotel, totally exhausted and wondering why we had come. I could look at Julia and the girls’ faces. I knew that they were all ready to leave, but we had two more nights, and I knew that we were supposed to be there. God had something for us and I wasn’t leaving without it. Tomorrow would be better, it had to be, and I knew that it would be.