The moment I stepped through the doors, I felt a powerful shift. I had just walked more than a mile in the below-freezing weather and entered into what I can only describe as a sacred place—the church on Attwell Drive in Toronto, home of the Toronto Blessing. The room was abuzz with expectation, the atmosphere pregnant with hunger for God’s presence. I could almost feel the weight of the thousands of testimonies that had happened there over the past 20 years.
Thousands of people had journeyed to the church to renew their spirits and to be touched the way they had been touched 20 years ago when this historic revival started. I was surprised to see so many people there who had been a part of the initial outpouring. What an honor to meet Richard Holcomb, who in 1994 had given Randy Clark the life-changing prophetic word that strengthened him for the coming revival. Toronto pastors John and Carol Arnott were so welcoming of the body of Christ and also of the Holy Spirit. It was also wonderful to see people such as Blaine Cook, whom I recognized when I attended the Anaheim Vineyard years ago. Like so many people, he was re-engaging with this stream of revival.
During the service, worship songs from the early days were offered unto the Lord. They brought me back to my early childhood days at the Anaheim Vineyard. Then Randy Clark shared the same message he spoke 20 years earlier on that day in history. During the impartation time at the end of the service, I hurried up to the front. As Randy prayed for me, recounting revivalists of old, the power of God fell and I dropped to my knees. I wept as God powerfully encountered me there. For me, this was only the beginning of my adventure and my first trip to Toronto.
How I ended up in Toronto started with the research I am doing for Bill Johnson’s upcoming book on revival. While working on a chapter about Randy Clark and the Toronto Blessing, I noticed some interesting patterns. I saw that this 20-year anniversary of the outpouring, which is also the 30-year anniversary of Randy’s personal impartation from Vineyard movement leader John Wimber, could be significant. Further, for years I have heard wonderful things about the Toronto Blessing and how the Father’s love has been poured out to bring restoration. I saw how it had greatly impacted my friend Heidi Baker in a powerful way in addition to many friends from around the world.
Months leading up to the event, every time I heard about the 20th anniversary celebration, my heart was stirred. Finally, after a conversation about the expectancy of what God was going to do in Toronto this year, at 1:30 a.m., less then two weeks before the date, I booked my flight by faith, not knowing how I would pay for it. Through a series of financial breakthroughs, God’s favor and three people sowing into my trip after I made my decision, the Lord provided beautifully. The special thing about this particular trip was that I was supported by one of the main leaders of Iris Global, a main leader of the Home of Peace (Carrie Judd Montgomery’s healing home in Oakland, Calif.), and a long-time supporter from the Anaheim Vineyard who was a part of the ministry team in Toronto in 1994. These three streams merged into one to send me into the healing waters in Toronto. Once I was there, I was also incredibly blessed by the media team there and the Iris family.
Let’s Tap Into the Well
In the 20th anniversary celebration and in several of the meetings over the following week, one of the recurring themes that continued to emerge is that there is a huge tsunami wave of revival approaching. If the church wants to ride this new wave well and not wipe out, to quote Heidi Baker in her impactful sermon that week, “We need to put our hands in the Father’s hands and step on His feet.”
We need to trust God to take us further and deeper in Him than we have ever known. What is coming on the horizon is too big for us to do alone. We need to put all of our trust in God. One week after the conference, Randy Clark continued to confirm this word when I talked with him in Redding, Calif. He said, “Now’s not the time to be backslidden or lukewarm because something wonderfully powerful is about to hit the country.”
In many ways, John Wimber paved the way for the Toronto Blessing. I grew up in the Anaheim Vineyard where John Wimber was the pastor. I was born into signs and wonders; that’s all I have ever known growing up. Seeing healings and miracles were normal for me. I always loved to hear stories about how the Holy Spirit broke out in the early days of the Vineyard movement from those who were there.
While in Toronto, I was reminded of a story I heard about Jesus People movement preacher Lonnie Frisbee. John Wimber had invited him to preach on a Sunday night on Mother’s Day in 1980. Toward the end of his talk, Frisbee had all those under 30 years old come up to the front to receive a blessing from the older generation. Then he said, “Let the power of the Holy Spirit come.” When he said this, the Holy Spirit came powerfully. From eye witnesses, I heard that when he lifted up his hands in a V shape and invited the Holy Spirit, people in a V shape, according to where his arms pointed fell over in the Spirit. From that moment on, the Holy Spirit broke out in a powerful way and the Vineyard movement of churches was launched. This movement would later birth many of the leaders in the Toronto Blessing.
As a revival historian, I notice some similarities between the Toronto Blessing (1994) under John and Carol Arnott’s leadership and the Welsh Revival (1904) under Evan Roberts’ leadership. Both movements make room for freedom in the Holy Spirit. They both value and create space for the power of the testimony. Worship and seeking the glory of God are other markers.
Since the Toronto Blessing has some roots in Lonnie Frisbee’s influence, his catalytic prayer is important. That Mother’s Day when the Holy Spirit moved powerfully in Wimber’s church, Frisbee also prophesied of another wave coming. If now, over 30 years after that prophecy, we are expecting a greater wave than ever before, why not go back even further into digging the wells of revival? Why not tap into even greater momentum than the already powerful 20 years of sustained revival that the Arnott’s have stewarded so well within the Toronto Blessing? Why not go back 110 years and not only synergize Frisbee’s catalytic prayer but also tap into a prayer that comes from a similar and powerful movement in Wales?
During the Welsh Revival, Roberts received a download from the Lord of a certain prayer to send ahead him to the towns where he was going to minister. He gave directions for the children in those towns to learn how to pray this prayer in preparation. Many times before he had even arrived, revival had already broken out. Without becoming ritualistic or creating a dependency upon a prayer, I want to invite you to access the legacy, heritage and testimonies embedded in this prayer so we can pull from not only 20 years but from 110 years of revival history. We need more momentum in the Spirit than just the 20 years for what’s coming next. So rather than only pray “Come Holy Spirit,” which I regularly hear, why not take this prayer one step further? Why not also pray for an increase of the momentum of the tidal wave that we are inviting to come? Why not pray like both Lonnie Frisbee and Evan Roberts and ask for the Holy Spirit to come in greater power for Jesus Christ’s sake?
Are we ready? Are we positioned to catch this wave? We welcome Holy Spirit to come in power and invade our very lives. We say “yes” to all that He has for us as we ride this new wave for Your glory.
We agree with the prayer Roberts sent ahead during the Welsh Revival. We take hold of this catalytic prayer and make it our own for this next season, preparing ourselves for the mighty wave that is rapidly approaching on the horizon.
“Send the Spirit now, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Send the Spirit now powerfully, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Send the Spirit now more powerfully, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Send the Spirit now still more powerfully, for Jesus Christ’s sake.” —Evan Roberts (1904)
Jennifer Miskov, Ph.D., is a revival historian and founding director of Destiny House (www.silvertogold.com) in Redding, Calif.