One of the first and most highly publicized "hotspots" for the awakening in England was an Anglican Church, Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), in London.
At about 11:30 a.m. on May 24, 1994, Eleanor Mumford, assistant pastor of the South-West London Vineyard and wife of John Mumford (pastor of South-West London Vineyard and overseer of the Vineyard Churches in Britain) met with a group of friends, many of whom were leaders of other churches, to describe her recent visit to the Toronto Airport Vineyard. As she explained her remarkable experiences of the power of God and prayed for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit, everyone was profoundly affected. Nicky Gumbel, Curate of Holy Trinity Brompton, suddenly realized that he was very late for a staff meeting at his own church, and rushed back from this meeting with his wife, Pippa, to HTB church office in South Kensington. The meeting was getting ready to adjourn, so he apologized and spoke briefly about what had happened. He was then asked to pray the concluding prayer. He asked the Holy Spirit to fill everyone in the room. According to the church newspaper, "HTB in Focus," 12 June 1994:
The effect was instantaneous. People fell to the ground again and again. There were remarkable scenes as the Holy Spirit touched all those present in ways few had ever experienced or seen. Staff members walking past the room were also affected. Two hours later some of those present went to tell others in different offices and prayed with them where they found them. They too were powerfully affected by the Holy Spirit -- many falling to the ground. Prayer was still continuing after 5 pm.
At 4:00 that day, HTB's Vicar, Sandy Millar, received an urgent phone call while attending a meeting of the Evangelical Alliance, chaired by General Secretary Clive Galver. Glenda, a member of the HTB church staff was calling to report that all of the members of the church team were on the floor of the office, unable to get up, after having received prayer. When Sandy asked how she had managed to get to the phone, she said that she had crawled. At an HTP service on the evening of May 29, Sandy Millar recounted the incident as follows:
I've never had such a message in my life. I was at a very serious meeting in the Evangelical Alliance, and we were talking about very serious things. And the telephone went, and Clive Calver, who's the chairman of the Evangelical Alliance, went and answered it and then he looked over at me, and he said "It's for you," he said, "and it's urgent." So I said, "Oh, thank you very much." And I went over and I took the call, and this was Glenda. Now Glenda works here most of the time -- by which I mean she wasn't working that afternoon, and she said, "Oh hello," she said, "I'm sorry to interrupt the meeting," she said, "but I thought you ought to know that the entire staff is slain in the Spirit and lying on the floor." And these other seven solemn men and women were watching me because they wanted to know what this urgent news was, and they hoped it wasn't too serious. I wasn't quite ready to tell them, because I wasn't quite sure what it meant. So I just said to Glenda, oh, you have to be careful nowadays, I said to Glenda, "Is that a good thing?" And she said, "Yes, it's a very good thing, indeed." So I said, " Well what are you doing on the telephone then?" So she said "Well, I'll tell you," she said.... She said, "I have crawled to the telephone on my hands and knees." So I managed to look solemn for another minute and I said "thank you very much. I will get back as soon as I can."
Sandy rushed back to find people rather startled at what had happened. The church leaders invited Eleanor Mumford to preach at Holy Trinity Brompton that Sunday, May 29, at both the morning and evening services. After both talks, she asked the Holy Spirit to come. Wallace Boulton in The Impact Of Toronto (Crowborough: Monarch, 1994), p. 21, wrote of the morning service: "There was a time of silence. Then slowly, members of the congregation began to cry quietly, and some to laugh. As the Holy Spirit came, Eleanor asked people to come forward if they wanted prayer. Many did so. As Eleanor's team and members of the church ministry team started to pray, people began to fall in the power of the Spirit. Soon the whole church was affected. There were scenes that few had ever seen before. The children arrived from their own groups and may of them were deeply touched and began praying for each other." People lingered for a long time after each service. Audiotapes of Eleanor Mumford's evening talk soon gained wide circulation in over one thousand churches of all kinds throughout England and served to pave the way for a massive reawakening among Anglicans and others.
In his introductory comments that evening, Sandy Millar said, "We welcome you all, particularly if you are a visitor. It's lovely to have you. I want to tell you, roughly what I think might happen -- there's such an air of excitement about the place. The excitement is partly if not entirely that Jesus is risen from the dead. [Cheering in the audience.] Hallelujah! And guess what? He's here. He's here. Hallelujah! We had a wonderful time this morning. [Laugher in the audience.] Wonderful time. But if you weren't here, I don't want to discourage you because you missed it. But we're going to have a wonderful time tonight, too. So I want to introduce to you now if I may in case you don't know her, to our speaker for tonight, Eleanor Mumford...." Here are most of her comments:
God, this is our desire, indeed, just to linger in your presence. How we thank you, Lord, for your love for us. We thank you for your presence with us. Thank you for your intentions for us. And we bless your holy name. Amen. Do sit down.
I really can't get over that you should have asked me to come at all. But to ask me twice, in the same day, is grace upon grace, and I'm terribly grateful. We had a wonderful morning this morning, quite wonderful. And I've come back with some more friends this evening to join you again. And I was saying to Sandy just now, coming in, it just moves me greatly because I know we're family. We're all of us family, and God calls us to different corners and to do different things but the truth is, this is like heaven. It's just the family. And it's been a joy and I'm grateful to you for welcoming us and to be putting up with us.
And Sandy mentioned to you that I've just got back from a little holiday. And in fact, my husband generously suggested, and I enthusiastically agreed, and then with much grace, the Lord gave me a word through somebody quite independently of us within the church that I should take a little trip to Toronto, which I did, for three days. And I met a very dear friend from Anaheim and we met at Toronto airport and caused a bit of a scene. And then we got our little car and trooped off to the frightful little hotel in the middle of nowhere and then we made our way to this improbable little church.
And before I go on to tell you some of the details of the things that happened, I want to give you some of the facts about what is going on, and I'll read you something that was put together by one of the Baptist pastors [Guy Chevreau], because he was involved in this remarkable move of the Spirit of God which seems to be taking place in eastern Canada. And he's written this: "At meetings hosted by the Airport Vineyard, Toronto, there has come a notable renewal and revival of hope and faith and of expectation. Over the past eighteen weeks, now about 130 days consecutively, the Spirit of God has been pouring out freedom, joy, and power in the most remarkable ways. Six nights a week," because they take a day off for Monday, six nights a week, "between 350 and 800 people at a time gather for worship, testimony and ministry. Rededications are numerous. Conversions are recently being witnessed and ministry to over 2,000 pastors, clergy, and their spouses has been welcomed by a diverse cross-section of denominational leaders." And to date, they think that about a quarter of a million people have gone to either the Airport Vineyard or one or two of the surrounding vineyards, or one or two Baptist churches which are much involved with this thing, as I will tell you later. This is supra-church. This is supra-denomination. This is not anybody's church. This is Jesus's kingdom. "And with all of this there has come a renewing of commitment, and enlarging and clarification of spiritual vision, and a rekindled passion for Jesus and for the work of His kingdom. Some of the physical manifestations accompanying the renewal are unsettling for many people, leaving them feeling that they have no grid for evaluation and no map to guide them," which is a sort of safe way of saying there are very bizarre things going on. And I will tell you more.
So you may say, other than the generosity of my husband and my mad enthusiasm, what did I go for? Well, as I said this morning, and Sandy ...with typical grace ...has said to me that I am to say exactly what I did this morning. So save only the jokes, I shall repeat myself, without excuse. But as I said this morning, I went because I had heard that there was a tremendous party going on. And all through my life I've been one to get to a party. If I knew there was something happening, I wanted to be in the middle of it. It's always been that way with me. And I went in a state of personal bankruptcy. I knew that I was bankrupt, and I knew that I was needing the Lord badly, and I had an incredible longing in my spirit for the things that I had heard of. And some of the stories I was hearing were stirring me, and just making me cry in the listening, and I thought "I need to get there." And so I went conscious of my need but high on expectancy. And so high that deep down, I was just sort of frightened of disappointment. I thought, "God, I'm not sure that I'm not setting myself up to be let down, and a tiny bit disappointed, because my expectation is so high of what you're going to do." And one evening I rang John back in London and he very sweetly in his typical way, he said to me, well now my darling, on a scale of one to ten, what do you think so far. And I said hmmm. Seventy-four? And that's the truth. It really was. And far, far exceeded my expectations, so gracious and generous was the Lord. And I -- many people were going out and visiting there for weeks at a time. I mean, several, a week, ten days at a time, and I only got three days. I mean, this was a crash course for me. And so when I went forward on the first night, because they said on the first night, "anyone who's not been here before we'd like you to come first for us to pray for you." And I went up unapologetically and the lovely pastor man said to me, "what would you like? What are you here for?" And I said, "I want everything that you've got. I've only got two days, and I've come from London," sort of defiantly. And behind this I was saying, I've played it fair and I'm determined to get my money's worth. So what will you do?" And from that moment on they were a little bit like -- they -- the whole climate of this thing is surrounded with generosity. God has poured His spirit out on a people in an improbable little church, and they are now spending their time from morning to night giving away as fast as they can what God is giving to them. And as new people hit town, and as pastors hover across the horizon, they sort of savor as if it were fresh meat and they just long to come to you and lay their hands on you and give you all that God has given them, which I take to be a mark of the Lord. I just take it to be the generously of Jesus to His people.
And there was one very dear Chinese pastor who had come from Vancouver and he came fasting. He was obviously a very ascetic and Godly man and he was a very skinny man and he had spent much of his life I suspect fasting and he came fasting and famished and as he arrived, the Lord said to him, "Gideon," He said, "you can forget about the fast because this is a time of celebration." And so it was. It was celebration from beginning to end. I need to tell you that the church itself where I visited, it happened to be a Vineyard, but I think that was really quite incidental. It's placed on the very end of the airport runway at Toronto and is the most comically improbable building you will ever see. It's part of a little office block, and if you were blinking you would have missed it. And there was just a little bit of a paper notice in the window that said, "Airport Vineyard." And the band was splendid, but you know, just an ordinary church band....
And yet as I walked in, the atmosphere was electric with expectancy, and the pastors and the people whose church it was were just shining with the beauty of their Lord because they had spent the last 120 days in the presence of Jesus. And they looked like men who had been with Him. Men and women. And yet as I went in, the phrase came to me, "Are these not Galileans?" ...Just as when the Spirit was poured out in the time of Acts the people looked wonderingly at these rather ordinary funny people on whom the power of God rested so remarkably, ...they said to each other, "are these not Galileans? Who are these chaps? Funny looking lot." And that was just the truth, and to me, it was the most powerful first impression. These are ordinary people ministering in the name of an extraordinary God. And their pastor, John Arnott has said, "God is just using nameless and faceless people to minister His power in these days." And that's what I love. There is no personality attached. There's no big name involved. There's no one church that's got a corner in the market. This is something that Jesus is doing. And the people and the church are simply preoccupied with the person and the power of the Lord Jesus. No personalities. Just Him. And I love that, because I'm tired of all that stuff. I'm tired of the heroes and the personalities. I just want Jesus. I just want Him and His Church straight. And that's what I think I received. I saw the power of God poured out, just as it was in the books of Acts, and as I said this morning, I didn't see tongues of flame, but I suspect it was because I wasn't looking. And I have heard recently in this country of a meeting which took place where the Spirit of God was poured out and the building shook. The building shook, and three separate witnesses quite independently, came home and said the building actually shook. So we're in the days of the New Testament. This is kingdom stuff, and it's glorious. But it's not new.
And so I scurried back to Scripture and I scurried back to Church history and I have discovered glorious things in the writings of Jonathan Edwards, who was the initiator of the Great Awakening in America during the mid-eighteenth century, and he wrote this, which is remarkably similar to what I saw in Toronto just last week, two weeks ago. "The apostolic times seem to have returned upon us. Such a display has there been of the power and the grace of the Spirit." Jonathan Edwards speaks of extraordinary affections -- of fear, sorrow, desire, love, joy, of tears, of trembling, of groans, load cries, and agonies of the body, and the failing of bodily strength. He also says we are all ready to own that no man can see God and live. If we, then, see even a small part of the love and the glory of Christ, a very foretaste of heaven, is it any wonder that our bodily strength is diminished?" And as the Canadians would say, "And up comes the floor." Because that is what is happening. People who are sensible and upright and all together, like many of your own members I might say, their bodily strength is failing them. Because such is the power of the presence and the personality of Jesus. He overwhelms us. And I read in Psalms this week about "gladness and joy shall overwhelm them," and that's what happened to me on more occasions than I was ultimately able to count. This is all about Jesus.
And in the time that I was there, I have to tell you, I heard not one mention of the devil. I heard not one word about spiritual warfare. Nobody mentioned a principality or a power, and I cannot tell you how refreshing that was. And the truth is that the people there, and I ever since, have been so consumed with the person of Jesus and with the work of the kingdom that quite honestly there is no time to give any attention to the enemy or to all his works. Because the power of Jesus is so great, and the person of Jesus is so preoccupying, and our passion for Jesus is on the increase to such a degree that it is a wonderful thing.
The associate pastor of the Vineyard in Anaheim decided that there was a little monkeying around going on, and he needed to go and find out what was happening, so he went up to Toronto, and when he came back, he wasn't hugely affected at the time, but when he came back, the power of God on him just grew greater and greater and greater. And he said to the lord one day, "God, why have you been so kind to me? Why are you pouring out your love on me like this?" And he heard the Lord as he imagined say to him, "I am doing this in this time, so that My church should get excited about My son." And that really is the beginning and end of it. I believe the Lord is pouring His Spirit out upon the Church so that we should fall in love with our Jesus and His son.
And so I went back to the book and I went back to Church history which I love, and I read about some of the things that had happened in the past, and I thought, "God, this is nothing new, but how good of you to do it for us! And how good of you to do it in our day!" Because I had never wanted to miss anything. It's not enough to read the books. I want to be in on the act. And I have discovered a new heroine in the last few days, who is the wife, or was the wife, of Jonathan Edwards. And she was a very Godly and wonderful woman. And she fell under the power of the Spirit of God to such a degree in the 1740s, that for seventeen days, she was insensible. She was drunk as a lord for seventeen days. She could do nothing. Now the Baptist pastor in Toronto had had to do all the school runs and all the school picnics for two days, because his wife was out for the count for forty-eight hours. And he was driving, and he was packing the lunches, and he was doing their homework -- he was doing everything and he said, "God, when are you going to lift off my wife, so that this home can get back into order?" But poor Jonathan Edwards had seventeen days in which his wife was insensible. And on one occasion she decided it was time to arise from the bed and to try and minister to the household, and they had a guest. So she got dressed in her best ...and she went downstairs and lurching a little while, and as she passed the study where the door was open and Jonathan Edwards was talking to his friend about the Lord, as she heard the name of Jesus, her bodily strength left her, and she hit the floor. So they carried her back to bed, and there she stayed. And as it's said in the history books, no one recorded who made the lunch. So this thing is taking people over in the most remarkable way. And at the end of this time, Jonathan Edwards' wife said, "I was aware of a delightful sense of the immediate presence of the Lord, and I became conscious of His nearness to me, and of my dearness to Him." And I think it's this one phrase that has impressed itself upon my Spirit in the last week, and what I think is the key to this whole thing, is that the Lord in His mercy is pouring out His Spirit in order to persuade us, His people, of His nearness to me, and of my dearness to Him.
I could keep you all night, she said tantalizingly, with stories of the things that are going on, both there, and indeed in our own church in the course of the last week. The most wonderful things are happening. And the most ordinary and normative people are behaving in the most abnormal way. But it is so delightful, and so freeing, and so healing, and we've laughed like we've never laughed before, and God is bringing healing to our bodies and into our hearts just by laughter. It says in the proverbs that laughter is like medicine to the soul, and so it's proven to be. And when I was in Toronto, I was at a pastors' seminar, and the place was full of weary pastors. Men and women who had become weary in well-doing. And who had crawled to Toronto to meet the Lord. And many of them testified to the things that God had done. And there was one middle-aged man who had been laboring as a pastor for twenty, twenty-five years. And he came to Toronto and the Lord fell on him and he became as drunk as a newt for days. And after several days he recovered himself enough to get back to the microphone, and he was asked to give a testimony, which he did, I might say, in a very incoherent fashion, and then they said to him, "May we pray for you more?" And he said, "I'd love it," and out he went, rolling around the floor as though he'd just walked out .... He was just out of his mind. And it was a wonderful, wonderful thing to see. And in my history, and in my own family, I have seen drunkenness to a degree in my past which has so grieved and offended me that I'd never been able to watch drunkenness. I can't look at it in the street, I can't look at it on the television. It offends and it breaks my heart, because I've seen too much of the real thing. And in the course of those three days at Toronto, God healed me of all that anguish and all that past as I saw the real thing and I saw what it was to be drunk in the Spirit. It was a sweet and wonderful thing.
There was a young pastor who arrived rather intense. You know how they are? Intense, and well-meaning. And he came with his notebook, with his file-a-fax, and his pen, and he was ready to take notes of everything that was happening. And he was such a zealous, wonderful young man. But he was very controlled and very all together. For a day or two. And he just soaked in the presence of the Lord. And then after two or three days he started to shake, and to rattle, and to roll, and to twitch, and to laugh, and he went home to his wife, and she said there's no way he can sleep in the same bed. She couldn't sleep. He was shaking and twitching. He had to take up residence on the couch. And then after several days he decided it was time to get his act together, and like all good pastors he felt, well, we need a bulletin on Sunday, we need a newsletter, we need all of these things. So he decided to type out the newsletter. And as he got to announcing some hymn or something which said "Come, Holy Spirit," he typed out "Come, Holy Spirit." Peuhh -- he was gone. Under the power of God, and he was out. Out like a light. And I thought, "Well, that's bizarre. That's emotional. That can't be." So on the way home on the plane, I was writing up notes, 'cause I needed to have things to tell people -- I was so full of stuff, and I couldn't bear to miss any. As I was writing things down, and I wrote about this amusing pastor that I had met, and I wrote how he had put "Come, Holy Spirit," and as I did, the Spirit of God fell on me. In the middle of Air France. And it was most wonderful. Wonderful.
I heard a story just this afternoon of a woman who had left a meeting rather as I had done, but she was reeling, and unwisely, she decided to drive home. This is in America, and she drove up the freeway, and she was all over the place, and she was stopped by the police. Honest to God, this is true. She was stopped by the police, and she got out of the car, and the policeman said, "Madam, I have reason to believe that you're completely drunk." And she said, "Yes, you're right." So he said, "Well, I need to breathalize you," so he got his little bag, and as she started to blow into it, she just fell to the ground laughing. At which point, the policeman fell, too, and the power of God fell on him, and he and she were rolling on the freeway laughing under the power of God. And he said, lady, I don't know what you've got, but I need it, and he came to church the next week and he found Jesus. He got saved. And this is happening. People are going out and telling each other about Jesus with a recklessness that they've never known before. I don't know about you, but when people say "evangelism" the hairs in the back of my neck go up and I get guilt and I feel awful and I feel destroyed and defeated. Evangelism is a breeze, people. It's such fun like this. So there was a woman who had left one of the meetings and she had been laughing on the floor for two hours, and she got really hungry. I find you do that -- you get really puckish. So she went to the Taco Bell ...and she sat down ...and she looked across, and she saw a whole family eating burritos. And she said to them, ..."Do you want to be saved?" And they all said, "Yes!" All of them! And they were all saved and led to Christ on the spot.
And another man left a meeting and he went into a restaurant, and a man was watching him, and for about ten minutes, he watched him. And he had this . . . young man who came up to him and said, "Excuse me, but are you a Christian?" And this chap had just left the meeting -- he said, "You bet." And he said, "Well, my wife has just left me. I've just lost my home. I've just lost my job, and I'm about to take my life." And "What can help me?" And he led him to Christ. And He spared his life, and he secured him for heaven, and five minutes before, he was on his way to hell. And this is good news, people. This is news for the people out there. People are getting saved right and left. And they are now discovering even in the Toronto area that there are several hundreds of people that are getting saved. People right and left are coming to know Jesus, because Jesus is the joy of our lives. It's a wonderful, wonderful thing.
The children are going into the schools, and they're being sent home in numbers because of shaking. And they're coming home with medical notes asking that they get tested for epilepsy, because the power of God is so strong on the children in the schools. There's a woman of whom I know. I know her story well, and it's a verifiable story, and she has been extremely ill with colitis. A most horrendous form of colitis for a very, very long time. She was, as a child, dreadfully abused. And she's married and infertile. No babies. And she's a secretary to a friend of ours. And last September, the Lord mercifully healed her of her colitis, and about three weeks ago she fell under the power of God to such a degree, and an hour or two later she got off the carpet and she said, "I no longer have abuse in my history. I have no memory. I have nothing. It's as if there was never anything." And she's now expecting her first baby. So God is healing the sick. And He's mending our wounds and He's doing things for us that it's taken us years of care and counselling to try and achieve.
I was involved before I went to America with a girl in our church who was dealing with a very, very difficult issue. It was an incredibly painful and difficult thing for her. And I spoke with her on the Tuesday before I went. And the Lord gave me, I know, counsel for her. And it was a bit strong, but I know it was the Lord and we both agreed that it was God, that it was a blessing to her, and it was going to be life- changing counsel. Well, I came back from Toronto and I saw her in church on the Sunday and she looked worse than ever. So I thought, there's my, you know, sort of wisdom, it had made no impression at all. She could not break free of the thing that was so destroying her. And then, last Sunday morning we had a time like this, and she fell to the ground and she wept and the Lord ministered to her, and she was there for fifty minutes, and when she got up, she said the issue was dead, and that she was restored.
People are being restored by the mercy and the sweetness of God. And, quite honestly, whether one stands or falls, whether one laughs or cries, whether one shakes or stands still, whether you go down could matter not, it just doesn't matter a bit. It doesn't matter how you go down. What matters is how you come up. It doesn't matter what goes on in the outside. What counts is what Jesus is doing in our bodies and in our souls, in our hearts and in our spirits.
We have a woman in my prayer group who is a hair dresser. And she's married to a Muslim, and her life is not easy. And she said that in the course of the last week, she's been reading her Bible like never before. But she said, "I'm not reading it." She said, "I hear the voice of Jesus reading it to me. As if I were a child, Jesus reads me His book." Wonderful things.
So you say to me, "What are the perceived results of this thing so far?" One of the things they said to me in Toronto when I went was -- it's such a dear thing -- the man who prayed for me said, "Don't try to analyze this, Eleanor. Just receive. Don't come asking questions. Come as a child." And I think that is the truth. I think if we analyze and try to work it out, we lose it. I think if we come receptive and childlike, there is infinite blessing for the people of God at this time. I've discovered in myself a love for Jesus more than ever. I've discovered in myself an excitement about the kingdom I wouldn't have believed possible. I've discovered that I'm living in glorious days. There's no other time; there's no other place where I would have chosen to be born and to live than here and now.
And God is on the move in this country. God is coming back for this country. And I remember praying when I was in Toronto, "God, who are we to say that this is Great Britain. We're not great. We're pathetic. We're pitiful. We're needy, needy people. We don't want Great Britain, we want God's Britain. We want God to come to this land. And I believe that He's on the move.
I'm thrilled about Scripture. I have a heightened sense of my heritage and my past. I have a stronger sense of the whole Church than I ever have. Since the early days of being involved with the Vineyard, I have- -God has given us a passion for the whole Church. And I -- I mean it just makes me weep to think that there's a little community of Roman Catholics who asked if they could go and visit the Vineyard up in St. Auburn's tonight. Fifty of them. Because they just want to be where the blessing of God is. This is coming for the whole Church. Because Jesus is coming for His bride. And He wants a bride without wrinkle and without spot. He wants a bride without division and dissension. He wants a bride that is one in the Lord. And He has said that it is a blessed thing when brethren dwell together in unity. Because there the Lord will command the blessing. He won't just invite. He won't just suggest. He will command. And when the God of heaven and earth commands a blessing on His people, no wonder we fall to the ground. No wonder we fall in awe at the presence of the Lord as He prepares His church and He comes back for His bride.
I've also found that there is in me over the last week a madness to give this thing away. I'm just mad to lay my hands on anything that moves. And it's -- yesterday we went to a wedding. It was frightfully proper. Frightfully proper. And it was held in an officer's mess, which was incredibly proper. And we spent our time taking people out of the marquee into the mess into a little quiet room that I had discovered that was empty, and we prayed for these people, and the sister of the bride was out laughing, and it was just glorious. And there were no pins in sight. This was the Spirit of God, and she put her hat back. She looked so funny when she went back -- she had this sort of slanting hat -- it was over one ear. And she went back, and she was just empowered by the Spirit of God in the middle of a wedding! It was wonderful. It's happening everywhere. And there's just a longing to pray for people. A longing to talk about Jesus. A longing to get to our neighbors. And as the pastor of the church in Toronto said, "I didn't know that God could be this much fun. I had no idea it could be this much fun hanging around Jesus." The prodigal went to look for all the parties in the world that he could find, but he discovered that the best party was in his father's house. And that's where we've come. We've come to the house of the Lord to enjoy the presence of the Lord, and to party with him.
Before I finish -- my watch is stuck -- on Toronto time, so I've got another five hours to go. And the honest truth is that I rattled so much when I was in Toronto that I broke the winder, and my watch is now bust, and it's on Toronto time, so I don't even know where I am. ...When I was there, the Lord spoke to me out of Ezekiel, and He showed me what I've known well in the past about the river. And I'd love to read to you just a verse or two before I finish and before we pray. Ezekiel had a vision. And he saw "a man who brought me to the entrance of the temple. And I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east. The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple south of the altar," and so he goes on. "And then the man went east with a measuring line in his hand, measuring off a thousand cubits, and he led me through water that was ankle deep." And then as you remember, he went on, and it became knee deep. And then he went on, and it became waist deep. "And then it went on, and I could not cross. Because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in. A river that no one could cross. And he asked me, 'Son of man, do you see this?' And then He led me back to the bank of the river and when I arrived I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. And He said to me, 'this water flows toward the eastern region and goes down toward the Arabah, where it enters the sea.' And when it empties into the sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish because this river flows there, and makes the salt water fresh. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary, that is, the very presence of the Lord, flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food, and their leaves for healing."
And the truth is, that the river in Ezekiel, let me just show you. The source of the river's flow is the very presence of God Himself. Renewal and refreshment, which this thing is, start in the presence of the Lord. This is all about the renewal and the refreshment of the people of God. Before ever they go out to the lost. When we find ourselves at an end of ourselves, when we know how bankrupt we are, when we turn to the presence of the Lord humble and helpless, the river begins to flow. And rivers flow best where they flow most easily. Without resistance, and downhill. And the water passes by the altar, which speaks of God's holiness. This is a holy thing that is happening. This is a very, very holy thing. And when we become a pure and preoccupied people, preoccupied with the presence of Jesus, there's less time to get up to mischief. There's less occasion to be rude and to be rebellious. And to be cruel to the people of God. And heartless to the lost. Because we are consumed with His presence. And we're made pure by His holiness. So the source of the river's flow is the sanctuary. And the course of the river's flow is out of His presence and away into the world. Ever deeper. A flow that creates a climate in which others can prosper. Did you notice -- swarms of living creatures will live where the river flows. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on the banks of the river. And the force of the river's flow is incredible. Incredible power in this thing as it gathers momentum and as it gathers strength. And the truth is, it's just started in a funny little church in Canada by the grace of God. But this thing is far beyond that. This is moving across the peoples and across the churches, across the denominations, and indeed across nations. And isn't it a wonderful, sweet thing that God has called us to be a part of it? So those are my holiday reminiscences, for what they're worth. Why don't you stand, and we'll all ask the Lord to come.
Although Holy Trinity Brompton was not the first church in the UK to be touched, the church newsletter, which detailed the events of Sunday, May 29 triggered "an avalanche of publicity in The Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Independent and The Times. Christian word-of-mouth and the newspaper coverage would draw hundreds of ministers to the church in the following weeks; soon hundreds of churches were engulfed by the most intense spiritual fervor they had ever known. In the midst of these 'days of heaven,' an HTB staff member spoke of the 'Toronto Blessing' and very soon the label became attached to what many believed was a special 'time of refreshing from the hand of the Lord'" (Dave Roberts, The 'Toronto' Blessing [Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1994], p. 12).
On May 31, Sandy Millar and HTB's Pastoral Director, Jeremy Jennings, flew to Toronto. That evening, they saw remarkable scenes at the Toronto Airport Vineyard, while the phenomena continued the following day at another staff meeting at HTB. Sandy and Jeremy returned on June 3, and Jeremy left to join a residential Alpha weekend, which was being run by the church for new believers and inquirers. Patrick Dixon, in Signs Of Revival, (Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1994), p. 14, described what happened the following Sunday morning, June 5:
Nicky Gumbel shared what had been happening to him, and others also described their experiences. Once again, many manifestations appeared among the congregation -- so many in fact that the normal communion service could not continue.
That night the church was completely full, with around 1,200 people. As people prayed, the main church area gradually become covered with people lying on the floor, requiring hundreds of chairs to be stacked away. More than 100 people were still praying in the church at 10 pm. Someone remarked: "The word 'revival' is one everyone's lips.
According to Wallace Boulton (pp. 22-23), Sandy Millar wrote to his congregation as follows:
We have begun to see an astonishing outpouring of the Spirit of God upon our own church and congregation. It seems to be a spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit and there are certainly some very surprising manifestations of the Spirit excitingly reminiscent of accounts of early revivals and movements of God's Spirit.
Some of the manifestations include: prolonged laughter, totally unselfconscious for the most part, and an inexpressible and glorious joy (I Pet 1.8). For some it is prolonged weeping and crying and a sense of conviction and desire for forgiveness, purity and peace with God. For others it seems to be the silent reception of the Spirit of God sometimes leading to falling down and sometimes standing up, sometimes kneeling, sometimes sitting.
There are great varieties of the manifestations of the Spirit. They are breaking out both during services and outside them in homes and offices. At times they are easy to explain and handle and at other times they are much harder and more complicated.
We have been hearing for several days of the movement of God's Spirit in the Vineyard Church in Toronto, Canada, and a number of people have come to us from there telling us about what was going on and of what they thought it all meant. For that reason Jeremy Jennings and I decided to go briefly to Toronto to see what we could learn and what conclusions, if any, at this stage it was possible to draw. The manifestations are quite extraordinary and would undoubtedly be alarming if we had not read about them previously in history.
The manifestations themselves of course are not as significant as the working of the Spirit of God in the individual and the church. The manifestations are the signs and therefore of course it is to the fruit that we look rather than the signs.
By June 18, Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent of the London Times, was reporting on the events at Holy Trinity Brompton ("Spread of Hysteria Fad Worries Church; 'Toronto Blessing'"):
One vicar was forced to cancel an evening service of Holy Communion and remove chairs from the nave because so many in his congregation were lying on the floor after experiencing the "Toronto Blessing" named after its city of origin. Observers have described scenes where worshippers collapse en masse to the floor and burst out laughing during services....
Churchgoers at Holy Trinity Brompton, Knightsbridge, which has reported on the "revival" in its parish newsletter under the headline "Holy Spirit Fever Hits London," include MPs and young, wealthy people from the Chelsea and Fulham areas....
According to a report in today's Church of England Newspaper, a service at Holy Trinity ended in chaos last weekend as dozens of people burst into spontaneous laughter or tears, trembled and shook or fell to the floor.
On June 19, Fred Langan and Paul Goodman provided the following account in the London Sunday Telegraph:
British Airways flight number 092 took off from Toronto airport on Thursday evening just as the Holy Spirit was landing on a small building a hundred yards from the end of the runway.
People from all over the world are flocking to this unlikely church, the Toronto airport branch of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, six nights a week. And every night there are astounding scenes of people shaking with laughter, slipping into a trance, falling to the floor, and crying.
"Last week Bishop David Pytches from England was down here on the floor roaring like a lion," says John Arnott, the church's pastor, as he explains how evangelical Christians have swarmed to Toronto like pilgrims to Lourdes.
They come mostly from the city's suburbs, but as many as a quarter of them travel from the United States and from Europe -- in particular England. In the world of charismatic evangelism, this is the place to be.
Already, the phenomena seen at the airport church are rippling out to churches all over the world. In London, astonished worshippers at Holy Trinity, Brompton -- a cathedral of charismatic churchmanship renowned for its largely young upwardly mobile congregation -- have been undergoing similar experiences.
And now, there is rising speculation among charismatic evangelicals that what may be happening is more than a renewal, more even than a revival. The world, it is said, may in fact be on the verge of a full-fledged awakening -- something on the scale of the great Wesleyan movement that swept England during the early 19th century.
At the end of September, 1994, Mike Fearon wrote of Holy Trinity Brompton in his book, A Breath Of Fresh Air (Guildford, Surrey: Eagle, 1994), p. 4, "At the time of writing, four months after the 'Toronto Blessing' made its unexpected but very welcome appearance, services there are so full that the choir stalls and chancel area behind the speaker have to be used as overflow areas, with scores of people standing in the gallery and around every doorway. Nearly 2,000 people pack into the building every Sunday."