The influential move of God known most commonly as "The Toronto Blessing" was known by a different name in 1994 during the days of its origin at the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church. John Arnott, the church's pastor, described God's work then as the "Father's Blessing"--a work that has since touched hundreds of thousands of lives around the globe.
James Jordan, a New Zealand minister, partners with the since-renamed Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship and trumpets the Father's Blessing in his world travels. He spoke at the May 2002 The Father Loves You conference in Toronto, where he emphasized to Charisma that in order for multitudes of "lost sons"--exemplified in Jesus' parable about the prodigal son--to find their way home the church has to become truly "the Father's house."
The key to revival, Jordan said, is the restoration of a "spirit of sonship" to church leaders. In agreement with other leading ministers such as Jack Winter and Jack Frost who teach "Father's heart-style" messages, Jordan suggests that many pastors have not through experience received a revelation of God as Father.
They live and serve in an "orphan spirit," he said. They strive to earn a heavenly reward, not realizing that they are sons entitled to the full inheritance. The "orphan spirit," Jordan explained, fosters performance orientation, insecurity and competition, and often leads to stress and burnout.
"Grace and rest come to our spirits when we are walking as sons to the Father, rather than walking with the Holy Spirit as instruments of power or with Jesus Christ as servants," Jordan said. Referring again to Jesus' prodigal parable, he explained that "a son works his father's fields, but not for wages, and in the evening he sits down by the fire [next to his father]. Many Christians never sit by the fire!"
Jordan's life was changed by a four-word question whispered into his heart some 20 years ago. "Whose son are you?" God asked, and in a flash Jordan realized that whereas the Bible introduces everybody as "somebody's son," he himself was "nobody's son."
His father, Jordan relates, had been "deeply damaged" by World War II and sought comfort in alcohol and unceasing work. There was no father-son relationship. "My very first conversation with my dad was at 29. Before that there was nothing but arguments."
From the age of 12 Jordan avoided human company.
"I slid into depression, was moody and sullen, and if I happened to look at a baby in those years, it always started crying. But in the mountains that I loved, and hunting on my own, there was no sadness."
At 22, Jordan met Jesus, and six years later God asked him whose son he was. The consequences were radical. For many years now Jordan has been traveling the world with Denise, his wife, to impart the Father's love, and since the late 1990s the relationship with the Toronto Airport church and Arnott's Partners in Harvest church network has been growing.
"You cannot receive the Father's love and give it away, nor can you be a father in the natural, or in the spiritual, without being somebody's son first," Jordan concluded. "God prompted me to apologize to my father for rejecting him. Our relationship is still not perfect, but my heart is no longer orphaned.
"The foundation of Jesus' ministry was simply to watch the Father. There was an understanding of the Father's love in the church before...Toronto, just as there were charismatics before Azusa Street. But today's revelation is on a new level and is touching much wider circles. It is the answer to the world's deepest need."
Tomas Dixon in Toronto