Perhaps some thoughts shared by some one who has actually come away from the "Toronto" movement after being "lock, stock & barrell" into it would help others who are saying to themselves- "These people who are so negative about this have not experienced it first hand." We live in Southern California and were part of the mainstream Vineyard church here - and also a smaller vineyard church closer to us.
My husband and I were desperate for God and at the end of everything in our lives when we came to the local vineyard. We soon heard about renewal meetings in Anehiem and began attending twice a week. My first impression was that these folks were a bit bizzare- but being as I said quite desperate for God to intervene in our lives we "stuck around." We were at the "Let the Fire Fall" conference in 1994 when John Wimber had John Arnot come and preach at the conference. I witnessed and was part of all the manifestations that have been described. I must say that it had been so long since I had "felt" anything - emotional or otherwise toward the Lord that- even though the outward looked so weird- my hunger kept me returning.
The vineyard was holding renewal meetings twice a week led by one of their pastors who had been to Toronto personally. We had to drive an hour one way to attend but did so usually for both meetings. The pastor would teach for a short period and we would move chairs away for ministry time. After attending renewal meetings for a few a couple months I began to notice some things that ,the pastor was saying did not make sense to me. He began to tell us that he did not want to "encourage" outward manifestations. The jerking- roaring- etc. Yet when ministry time came the he would call forward the people who were on the outside "manifesting" the strongest. The ones that could hardly walk they were shaking so hard- those were the ones who were called to the front and ministered to in front of us all. This happened while I was there several times.
Well I can tell you first hand what this did to my family- and people that I knew. People began to seek the manifestations-. At first I was one of the ones that would usually fall and just weep- unstoppable tears - I believe the Lord did give me repentance as my life had been so miserable. The tears came and cleansing did happen. But as the pastor kept calling those forward who were jerking and shaking- and wanting "more" I began to seek- unwittingly what I believe now were "other gods"- the gods of experience for example. Not that God can't give experiences that are wonderful but each has to be measured by His Word. There was very little of this at the renewal meetings. I will tell you I personally had people lay hands and pray for me from the Large ministry team of Anehiem- I was "open" to all of it- in the end my simple joy of feeling His cleansing presence became a hunger for the next big wow- I was shaken- baked- drunk- laughed till I could not move - roared- swooned...labored as in childbirth- etc. For me until the end of this (which I'll explain later) these experiences were wonderful- I felt new- alive- but I was not being honest with myself at how these things were taking the place of my relationship with God. People were getting saved although not the throngs I kept hearing about in other places- there were healings. I must say at this point that during all the time I attended renewal meetings regularly for over a year- not once did a person challenge any manifestation or spirit according to the scripture. I personally received training to be on the large ministry team at our local vineyard (which used the teaching materials from the Anehiem Vineyard).
I was never advised to "test the spirits" according to scripture. Lets be honest here- when someone is frozen to the ground- the only breath coming is between loud cries - roars- what ever- that seems like it would be a good time to challenge the spirit of this... I never saw it done- or even heard of it done even as I began to minister to others as part of the team. To us some manifestations were obviously demonic and we used "discernment" to detect then pray for deliverance- these manifestations being nausea- vomiting- obvious torment etc. When I was myself was roaring- laughing- shaking or crying- no one ever challenged any of it. I was not in any kind of torment while experiencing these manifestations- it was great- I never saw anyone else appear to experience torment while experiencing these things. So I blundered on ignoring scripture. Then I attended a prophetic conference at Mott Auditorium, the Vineyard of Pasadena- I did notice that things were "cranked up" a bit more than usual but you have to remember I was used to all this and it was normal to me. During the ministry time one of the speakers (from Kansas City) began to "shoot arrows in the spirit" at us. He made the sound of an arrow shooting- whoosh- as he told us to receive what God's angels had for us- he said "it's ok to paint a target for where you want the arrow to hit you." Myself having suffered from serious childhood hurts - began to place my hand on my heart and cry out to God. Suddenly I could hardly stand- but this was not the drunk kind of swoon I had experienced before- this was painful- I ached all over as if I was coming apart inside- I wanted to sit down and catch my breath but at that very moment the speaker called out "Take it" so I forced myself to stand upright. A feeling of anguish came over me that was awful and indescribable. After the prayer time was over I felt as if I could move and walk about but the thought came to me to go over in between the chairs and just lay down for a while. I questioned my own motives for this- as the conference was over and my family was waiting for me to go home. I went in between the chairs and layed down face down on the cold floor there. Soon- I was frozen to the floor-I could not have gotten up if I had wanted to- I could not speak- as people are accustomed to this as I also had been accustomed to this- outwardly it seemed like just another person "slain in the spirit" but inwardly I felt different- there was a great element of fear involved this time- I began to really want to get up but could not. After some time I was able to move and get up to go home. The next 10 days were so incredibly bizzare I have difficulty describing what happened. I will say that there were some very bizzare "impulses" being hurled at my spirit, as to the like I had never experienced. I began to wonder if someone had put speed into my drinking water during the conference as I could not sleep- this was not the night watches of the Lord during the sleeplessness - it was fearful and oppressive. Part of the reason I had embraced this movement was the seeming knowledge of the prophetic- now my gifting seemed to turn on me as I experienced terrifying feelings and apparitions. During this time the Lord brought a leader to us who was not into the Toronto movement but was a very prophetic person. I was desperate as even the leaders we had been involved with abandoned us-the vineyard pastor from the renewal meetings was just' too busy' and the local vineyard pastor was upset at us for spending too much time in Anehiem so basically had no time for us either. I mean my husband was begging for help- I am flipping out running all over the desert- and they have no time?
I will say God is faithful- the servant he sent us was a true shepherd- he told me I had a run in with Kundalini spiritism- THIS MAN HAD NOT EVEN HEARD OF THE TORONTO MOVEMENT- yes that is true- there are people - that God is using who do not even know about TORONTO- He told me -quote- "some one has opened up a "third eye "in you for sight into the demonic spirit realm"....unquote- this servant of God prayed the blood of Jesus over me and had some serious prayer and warfare in my behalf. I was delivered from those tormenting spirits by the blood of the Lord Jesus- but my healing and restoration has been a matter of walking with Him. I was so trapped in the instant fix mode from the renewal that I could never has seen the value in the daily walk with the Lord.
What frightens me about the Toronto movement is that these people as I was are sincerely deceived- the spiritual realm- is the realm of warfare. How can we approach this with out the covering of His word- His battle plan- how can we ignore what He has told us in scripture and glorify experience or ANYTHING above His name and what He has given us in Him? Now folks be honest- continually bringing people on stage or onto the alter - wildly manifesting- does distract from thinking about the Lord Jesus- it's wow look at that- and wow feel this....feel, feel, feel.
I must testify to His protection in spite of being involved in this as there were several situations during those l0 days I could have easily died. (Doing over 90 mph on the freeways weaving in & out of traffic) is just one example. I also testify to the protection of much more than my body-He has redeemed my spirit from what was a plot to kill it also. I believe God did see our hearts and that we were sincere in our search for Him but we definitely fell into the wrong place- perhaps if anyone is reading this who is part of a church that is embracing the Toronto movement- I beg of you to go to the word-and do not ignore what He is saying to you through His word. I John says test the spirits to see if they are of God-you are not insulting God to do this- He says to do it.
It was a breath of fresh air for me to hear there were prophetic people who were not swallowing everything in the Toronto river- I am glad myself and my family were plucked out before drowning there- Trusting and Testing,