By Tim Pettingale
By now the story is well documented, how in 1994 a little known church near the end of a runway at Pearson International Airport, Toronto, came to the world’s attention as a place where God was meeting powerfully with His people. As a result of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the members and staff of the then Toronto Airport Vineyard were thrust into a ministry that would spread around the globe and bring more than 3 million visitors through the doors of their modestly-sized church building to see what was going on.
Many who have visited Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in the years between then and now have done so out of a desperation to see and experience a greater depth of God’s presence than they have previously known. Others have done so out of a desire simply to bask in God’s presence and have been surprised by the degree to which He has been able to minister to them when they stopped trying and just rested in His presence.
But others have visited Toronto because they were sceptical and had suspicions that this “move of God” might be counterfeit. They were concerned by issues such as unusual manifestations, unconventional methods of ministry, and whether all that they saw and heard could be grounded in Scripture. In short, they wanted evidence.
Senior leaders of TACF, John and Carol Arnott have spent the last fifteen years patiently and graciously teaching and explaining the biblical grounds for what has happened throughout the revival – as much as anyone can who finds themselves in the midst of an unprecedented move of God. But the evidence people wanted has emerged in another way as well – through the fruit of countless changed lives.
To begin with, thousands of people have to come to Christ. The church recorded 9,000 first time commitments to Christ in the first 20 months of the outpouring alone. They have long since lost count. But besides that, numerous full time church leaders have testified to the fact that their lives have “never been the same” since encountering God in a new way. One leader, Peter, recalls,
“Up until 1994 I thought I was a pretty spiritual guy. I was the pastor of a fast-growing “cutting edge” church. I found myself asking the Lord, along with many others, ‘Why are you doing this? What sense does it make?’ This was the first hurdle I had to get over: God does not need to explain Himself and His ways are not our ways!
In the early days someone gave a prophecy that answered my question. It went something like this: ‘God is taking the “elder brother” out of the church, so that when the “lost sons” return home, they will meet the Father, not the elder brother.’ I liked the sound of this, until the Holy Spirit whispered into my spirit, ‘That elder brother is in you too!’ I gasped, ‘Who, me?’ Then I realised, I had fallen into the trap of trying to ‘do’ in order to ‘be’. It was the first time that I saw in the story of the prodigal son that the elder brother was just as lost as the younger one – he was lost in religious striving. I wasn’t lost in lawlessness, but I was lost in legalism.’ Later I received a revelation of the Father’s unconditional love and it gave me faith to believe that the Father really loved me as I am, not as I should be. This has been the greatest change He brought about in my life, from a shame-based life to a grace-based life.”
The key of presence
One couple, Cindy and Bob, describe their first visit to a TACF conference and what they experienced:
“Our lives were totally and radically changed forever. We were in a hopeless situation in our life and family and desperately needed God to intervene on our behalf. We were encouraged just to wait on the Lord and not be in a hurry to get up off the floor, and that the Holy Spirit would cause us to rest in Him. As we began to totally surrender to the Holy Spirit we would just lie on the floor and soak in His presence, allowing God to do all He needed to do in us. As we continued to do this, we began to experience Him in ways we had never known before. What we began to see immediately was how God was softening our hearts, healing our hurts, allowing His healing balm to just totally cover us and saturate us.”
Cindy and her husband were so impacted by God that they decided to start a Monday evening “soaking” meeting in their home in Fort Worth, Texas. They began hosting the meetings in the very early days of the outpouring and have continued them ever since – every Monday night for 14 years!
“People would laugh at us,” Cindy recalls. “Pastors would tell us that it was time to get up off the floor and do something. Others wanted to know, ‘What good can possibly come out of lying on the floor?’ What we have learned is that waiting on the presence of God is the MOST important thing in life that we can do. Spending time in God’s presence recharges us, fills us and energises us. It equips us to do what each one of us has been called to do. Every person needs to learn how to flow in the unique gifts God has given them and to operate in the fullness of what they have been called to do. Resting in God’s presence teaches people how to hear God’s voice and to obey Him when He speaks; it teaches them to wait on God and receive from Him. We cannot give away anything that we do not have!”
Many high profile ministries have also been impacted by their connection to TACF, among them people like R T Kendall, Bill Johnson and Heidi Baker. Some of these tell their stories on a new DVD called Fruits of Revival. For those who are interested in hosting “soaking” or “presence” meetings in their home or church, TACF have recently released a new, updated edition of their “Soaking Kit” containing a wealth of practical teaching and guidance.
For more information about the Fruits of Revival DVD click here >>>>