In many of the recent discussions of Todd Bentley and the Lakeland outpouring there has been criticism of the role that God TV played in this. For example, Rupert Ward has written the following:
Lakeland, on the other hand, was virtually instantaneous, screened live by God TV and on the internet. In my opinion, God TV have a lot to answer for, as they effectively became the ones who proclaimed this from the rooftops: this is God – jump in. It didn’t allow time for people, or for questions, or for process. They were forcing people to make a choice: are you for this or not?
I can’t imagine the pressures that suddenly hit Todd Bentley and his Fresh Fire ministry. In the matter of a few days, he was catapulted from a somewhat known itinerant preacher to global superstar in the Christian world. …
In the end, the failing of Todd to live faithfully to his wife, has had a greater impact on the body of Christ due to the prominence he had ‘achieved’ over the last few months. If Lakeland hadn’t happened, I doubt it would have registered a hit on Christian radar.
For that, I think that GodTV do have real responsibility. Not for Todd choices. But for the pressure that he was put under. For not allowing Lakeland to grow slowly or fizzle out. For promoting something, and then not taking responsibility for the leadership they brought to the worldwide body of Christ.
To an extent I agree with Rupert. The decision of God TV to broadcast the Lakeland meetings certainly put Todd under massive pressure. This may well have contributed to the breakdown of his marriage. It certainly increased public awareness of his moral lapse. But does this in itself make God TV to blame?
Today I have received by e-mail, also available online and featured on their UK home page, a statement from Rory and Wendy Alec, the founders of God TV, defending their decision to broadcast from Lakeland. Here are some extracts from what they write:
we believe that the Lord instructed us to broadcast the Outpouring services at Lakeland with Todd Bentley.
It was not a mistake.
It was not by mistake.
We believe it was a clear instruction from the Lord.
Over the past twelve years, but especially since our launch in America, we have in obedience to the Lord searched through the earth for those events and anointings that the Lord has laid on our hearts – to amplify their message and anointing to the Body of Christ in this crucial endtime hour that we live in.
The Lakeland Outpouring with Todd Bentley was one of those events. We received over 45 000 e-mails many, many of these heart rending, powerful testimonies from viewers across the earth of their bodies or their families bodies healed, their lives transformed and their hearts revived.
None of us have ever seen such significant fruit in all the years of broadcast.
Far more profound than that were the desperate cries for help. I (Wendy), would go through the live inbox and see the desperate cries from mothers, wives, sons and daughters, so many with TERMINALLY ILL husbands, wives, children, sometimes babies in arms – sensing HOPE in their situation that for so long had been without hope.
Just reading these prayer requests would bring one to tears –
We are often so cloistered from the agony of peoples day by day real life agonies – and their agonies were written there. …
The enemy had heard of the great honoring of the Lamb and was determined to destroy it – BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE AND AT ANY COST.
And the cost was Todd Bentley.
Was it because Todd was vulnerable and certain areas of his life were not surrendered wholly – Yes – like so many of us – in all probability.
Was it because the character of Christ was not yet formed in him in the equivalent measure to his gifting? Yes – like so many of us – in all probability.
Could it be the case that there by the grace of God go YOU AND I… Yes – In all probability. …
On the June 23rd, Todd actually spoke openly and with great vulnerability of his and Shonnah’s previous marriage challenges and how they had faced those challenges and the Lord had begun His work. He did not try to hide their struggle but shared their ongoing journey.
As Rick Joyner so wisely put it –
“In marriage, I have learned there are those who admit they have been through times when they wondered if their marriage would make it, and then there are liars. …” …
The Lord also shared with us that someone can be deceived in an AREA of sin but it does not necessarily mean that in every area of his or her life or ministry, they were walking in deception as some critics of the revival may lean to believe.
And who is to judge that the Lord does not hold the violent unleashing of criticism and faultfinding and tearing down and divisiveness of the heresy hunters, as severe a sin as separation in a marriage? …
So beloved friend –
Do we at GOD TV refute the Outpouring? NO.
We are presently planning to broadcast other offshoots of Lakeland in both the United Kingdom and America, including revival meetings in Dudley, England. …
Remember: this was never about Todd Bentley. It was always about the Holy Spirit and the fact that God loved you and I. It was GOD who touched our lives. …
Remember also, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Let’s turn our eyes toward Him and away from our trust in man.
He who sent His only begotten Son.
The Great Father of Compassions.
To Him alone we bow.
Personally we believe that the best is yet to come.
For our King and His Kingdom
Rory and Wendy Alec
Rory and Wendy don’t admit to making any mistakes in their coverage. I regret that because I suspect that they did. For example, it seems likely, although I can’t prove it, that Todd returned to Lakeland sooner than expected after his break in July because of pressure from God TV, who had doubtless seen their Lakeland viewing figures plummet in his absence. In fact the blame for that should be mainly with the viewers who were more interested in watching a man than in experiencing God at work. But if God TV did put pressure on Todd they were wrong to do so. I hope that they are at least privately recognising that not everything is perfect in their world and doing something to put it right.
Nevertheless I accept that God TV is a genuine Christian ministry whose leaders are truly wanting to see God glotified, and who in this case did what they really believed God was calling them to do. It is all too easy to say that they were wrong, especially with the benefit of hindsight. But even with that hindsight we must realise that the damage caused by the way this ended is probably far less than the benefit gained by millions of viewers worldwide who saw God in action in Lakeland, many of whom were touched in their own bodies. Anyway, it is before God and their own accountability partners that Rory and Wendy should be giving account, and so it is not for me or any other outsiders to judge them.
As for the wider role of Christian TV, I understand Rupert’s concerns, but for the reasons I gave in my first comment on his post I don’t think it should be stopped. My conclusion there can also serve to conclude this post:
For all my ambivalence about God TV I do at least believe that Rory and Wendy Alec’s hearts are in the right place, not looking for personal gain or spreading false teaching but genuinely (to quote from their website) “taking the message of the Gospel and the heart of God to the nations of the world”. I hope they are learning lessons from Lakeland.