In the most recent of my series of posts on the revival in Lakeland, Florida led by Todd Bentley, I referred to similar things happening in Dudley, England. My vicar and his wife, and a couple of others from my church, are planning to visit Lakeland on Tuesday for a week or so. As I am unable to join them but didn’t want to miss out on anything God is doing in the area of revival, I decided to check out what was happening in Dudley. At first, on Friday, I was thinking of going next weekend, but I felt God saying to me “Why not tomorrow?” I asked my vicar, and he said “Go, get as much blessing as you can, and bring it back!” So yesterday, Saturday, I went. And it proved to be a good day to go.
What is happening in Dudley, just west of Birmingham, is being called the Dudley Outpouring. It is being organised by Revival Fires, which is a ministry hosting renewal and revival conferences and also a local church. Trevor Baker is their main leader. They have been holding daily meetings for more than 20 days, since Trevor came home from his first visit to Lakeland. They have their own blog about the outpouring, mostly of testimonies, although this has not been updated for several days. Last week Trevor visited Lakeland again, and, as can be seen in this YouTube clip, was commissioned by Todd Bentley to bring the Lakeland revival to Britain, to be our very own British TB. And he arrived back in England yesterday morning, so the meeting I went to was the first after his return.
Dudley is nearly 200 miles from my home in Chelmsford, and the journey can be a nightmare. But as usual the roads were very clear on a Saturday and the journey took me only 2½ hours each way. The meetings were being held, just for the weekend, in a converted cinema, in fact a rather run down venue in a run down area, but at a strategic location at the very summit of this hilltop town – even slightly higher than the parish church opposite. The venue seats about 800 in the main hall and 600 in the overflow, and both were full last night. I joined the queue nearly two hours before the meeting was due to begin at 7.30, and got into the main hall about half way back.
I must say that I was not entirely impressed by the meeting, which was long, hot and noisy. The first hour and a half was worship, sometimes rather repetitive although not weird, a lot of it of the kind which encourages clapping. 800 people clapping for over an hour in a low ceilinged room left me rather dazed, and it was also rather hot and cramped. I was much more comfortable when they moved on to quieter, more meditative songs, and I was able to worship the Lord in a meaningful way through them.
Then at last Trevor Baker took the stage, and started by giving “words of knowledge” about healing of some quite specific serious infirmities. Those who believed they were being healed were called forward, and quite a lot were invited to give testimonies. This was good, but not what I had gone for. It was probably after 10.00 when Trevor at last got us to take our seats for his main talk. It was also good, but I’m afraid not very memorable, at least for someone as tired as I was by this time, so I won’t try to summarise it.
At the end of this they took up an offering, which was rather protracted but mercifully carefully avoided any prosperity gospel type teaching that people should give so that they get a greater benefit for themselves. Instead the point of the offering was clearly stated as to benefit others, to build up a “war chest” for future outpouring events. Specifically, they are hoping to hire the NEC in Birmingham for Todd Bentley who has announced his intention to visit Britain in the summer. The NEC (National Exhibition Centre) is the biggest such venue in the country, with 12,300 seats in the main arena, and of course is expensive!
So it was getting on for midnight when Trevor got on to what for me was the high point of the evening, the “impartation”. In Florida Trevor had been given a cloth soaked in anointing oil which Todd Bentley had used to anoint people at one of his meetings in Lakeland. Trevor then offered to impart this anointing to everyone present. This is of course a biblical procedure – see for example Acts 19:12 and 2 Timothy 1:6. This anointing was what I had gone to Dudley to get, so I was quick to go forward to get it – as was almost everyone else!
Of course it was bound to take a long time to anoint over a thousand people. How they handled it was to line people up across the front of the hall facing the stage, with space behind them. Trevor walked across the line touching each forehead briefly with the cloth; I reckon he was taking less than two seconds per person. At the touch most people fell over, and were caught by “catchers” and lay on the floor- but only briefly. For, as Trevor had warned would happen, after only about five seconds each person was encouraged by the catcher to stand up immediately and move away, so that a new line could be ready as soon as Trevor finished the old one. It was a bit like serving communion at my church, but faster.
Eventually, just before midnight, I got my place in a line. Despite this conveyor belt approach, necessary simply because of the numbers, this was a profound experience. The cloth touched my forehead with a slight pressure but nothing like enough to push me over. But as it did I felt the power of the Holy Spirit come on me and nudge me over. This is not the first time this has happened to me, and sometimes I have fallen over, although at other times for various reasons I have chosen to stay on my feet. Last night I let myself fall over, and was caught gently and laid on the floor. I felt God’s anointing on me, the anointing which had arrived from Lakeland only that morning. I could gladly have lain there and soaked in God’s presence. I wasn’t allowed to, but getting up and going back to my seat didn’t take away the anointing.
I think this was probably more or less the end of the meeting. It was for me, as just after midnight I joined the stream of people leaving to take the anointing back to their homes around the country, and the world. Some people I met had come for the day from as far away as County Durham, perhaps twice as far as I had come. By the time they got home it must have been morning. I made it home on empty motorways just before 3 am, tired but rejoicing and praising the Lord.
Was it worth going all that way for a touch and a few seconds on the floor? By the standards of the world it might seem not. But things work differently in God’s economy. There were special reasons why I had to be there that night, some I know (I haven’t said everything here) and probably some I don’t. I wouldn’t have gone if it had just been for me, or even just so that I could blog about it. I went, and deliberately asked for my vicar’s blessing first, so that I could bring something back which would bless and transform my church and my community. Already today in my church I was able to pray with many people, especially those I felt were key people for God’s work in this community, to receive the same anointing. Some said they felt the power; one fell over. Others seemed unmoved, but that doesn’t mean nothing happened. As for what will come of it, we will see! Great things are beginning to happen in my church, and we are expecting even greater when my vicar and the others return from Lakeland.