Perhaps you saw it on The 700 Club or you heard about it in an email, I'm talking about the phenomenon in Lakeland, Florida. It is being hailed as "The Great Florida Healing Revival." The services have been a coalition between Ignited Church and Todd Bentley.
Here is a clip about the ordeal
The "revival" has been mostly based around healing , with an emphasis on being blessed by God if you use your money to serve him. Healing services every night were aired on GodTV. People have been traveling from all over the world to be healed at one of these services. Yet in the last week some findings have been less than glamorous.
First came the news of Todd Bentley's failing marriage. Todd and his wife Shonnah Bentley are separated and now are seeking a divorce. Todd's own ministry announced August 15th that they "have discovered new information revealing that Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff."
Rev. Stephen Strader, pastor of Ignited Church stated “Three years ago, he did the exact same thing. He grew out of his relationship to his wife and transferred his affection to another. That’s the biggest frustration with us. The bottom line is that he was traveling too much and not taking care of his wife and family like he should,”
Yesterday I received news of a new development with Ignited Church. Lakeland has a large homeless homeless population, and Brandt Russo, a 24 year old homeless minister, traveled to the area after hearing hearing horror stories of the homeless living in a swamp within walking distance of Ignited Church. From Brandt's blog, one homeless man "asked one of the staff at Ignited church if the community could use the church to sleep in during the tropical storm, and they just told him 'this church isnt set up for that'. Soon after the pastor multiple times told the revival attendees not to help the homeless camped out, and they have to go through the church for permission to help (which they don't do much either). He did say that they could sleep under the awning in front of the church when it rains, but if the cops come they have to leave or be arrested. One beautiful old man used to sit out and make crosses out of palm leaves and hand them to people going in, not expecting a thing, and was arrested for trespassing (they called the cops on him)." After trying to meet with the pastor of Ignited Church to try to find a way the church could minister to the homeless in their own backyard, Rev. Stephen Strader had Brandt Russo arrested for trespassing on private property. (the church parking lot)
This brings up some important questions of what ministry should look like. I ask what did Jesus' ministry look like. Was it not Jesus who said
"For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me: I was in prison, and you came to Me.'
"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'"
How we treat others is how we treat Christ. How can we claim we are in the middle of a "revival" and forget those hurting on our doorstep?
I would like to encourage you in the following ways.
1.Please pray for Brandt. Please consider supporting his ministry, and pray that God will sustain him and use him in mighty ways while he is in jail.
2.Pray for the leaders of Ignite Church. These are fellow brothers in Christ, and we should be praying for them. Pray that God may show them how to reach ALL for Christ. It is not impossible that God may show them the error of their ways, and they may develop a TRUE healing ministry, healing the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of those at their own doorstep.
3.Pray for Todd Bentley and his family. Again this is a brother in Christ, who it seems found success too fast, and let the Deceiver get a foothold in his life. God could change his life and heal this hurt marriage. We should not condemn him, but pray that God deliver him.
4. Seek your role in ministry to the hurt. We are all called to minister to the hurt and dying of this world. Our American version of Christianity places far to much emphasis on receiving rather than giving. All of these popular church services have one thing in common, its about "what can God do for me?" I urge you to focus on what can you do for God. Read the gospels and study how Jesus did ministry, you may be surprised.