The Shotgun Blog
Saturday, October 18, 2008
The faith healer, his disabled wife, and a possible divorce
It’s very unusual that someone that I wrote about in my Report magazine days (not once, not twice, but three times) would have since become an international celebrity. This past summer, faith healing Christian evangelist Todd Bentley of Abbotsford B.C. held a series of “revival” meetings in Lakeland, Florida, broadcast worldwide on satellite, cable TV and the Internet by the British charismatic Christian television network God TV, which made him a “nine-day wonder” in the religious and secular press.
But then, the wheels fell off the wagon. First, an indepth report by the reporters of ABC News’ Nightline news program in July learned that Mr. Bentley—who had claimed not only healings but that 31 resurrections from the dead were connected with his revival in some way—could not provide the name of one person that Nightline could prove had been healed. The day after the story aired, Mr. Bentley decided that he needed an immediate break from conducting the meetings. Then in August, following revelations of some serious moral lapses on Mr. Bentley’s part, he left the revival and temporarily withdrew from public ministry for a time.
I can pass on some news. Ignited Church in Lakeland, the revival’s “host”, which had been keeping the meetings going, quietly held the last special meeting for the revival—the crowds have dwindled since the “star” left—on Sunday October 12. This must be embarrassing to the various charismatics who had predicted that “Lakeland” would begin to be a world-wide revival.
Is Bentley done? Hardly. Plans are already afoot to bring him back to full-time itinerant evangelism as early as late this year. And Mr. Bentley, who announced on leaving the revival that he has separated from his wife Shonnah, after reports in the press of two “emotional affairs” with other women may be divorced by the time he ministers again.
I can also reveal one of the reasons, virtually kept secret by the evangelist, that may be tempting Mr. Bentley to consider a divorce.
It seems that, contrary to the impression that the faith healing preacher has given for the past ten years that he has been married to Shonnah Bentley, she has been crippled by a lingering disability caused by bone cancer….
Mr. Bentley, as I found to my dismay when writing about him, has a way of wording things when talking about his past and ministry that leads people to believe things that are not strictly true. I found that I could only get him to be entirely truthful in some matters when I knew what the answers to his questions *should* be before I put the questions to him.
It would be naturally embarrassing to a faith healer that his wife has a life-long disability. Alas, Mr. Bentley has artfully avoided an embarrassing series of questions from the press, such as “Has your wife Shonnah had any lasting health problems due to her cancer? She has? Have you tried praying for her? How do you explain that your wife continues to have this health issue when your revival allegedly raises people from the dead…?”
How could reporters seeking honesty and accountability from this minister know that they could ask such questions of Mr. Bentley when he misleads his readers? Anyone reading either edition of his autobiography, “Journey Into the Miraculous” would get the idea that his wife is completely healed—suffering from no lasting disabilities as a result of her bout with bone cancer at 16.
Mr. Bentley writes:
“Shonnah had grown up Catholic. She got saved at 16 when the Lord healed her of cancer and a spot on her lungs. Several Christians, including some ministers, prayed for her over a period of several weeks and God blessed her with a miracle The nurturing of the church impacted her immediate family and they all got saved too….”
However, one would see that something is amiss with this description when seeing video footage of Shonnah Bentley on YouTube. She is the heavyset woman that falls after being prayed for Watch her walking and pay particular attention to her left leg in this video:
The above video may be pulled from YouTube once this blog post is circulated. Fortunately the same footage is also used in a YouTube video here posted by one of Mr. Bentley’s critics
Why Is Shonnah Bentley hobbling? She has no left knee.
Doctors at a Vancouver hospital took out her left knee when she was 16. Now, her left leg is held together by a straight metal rod to just above her ankle.
I do not blame Shonnah Bentley. She seems to be a honest lady. Whether she has been deliberately kept in the background until recent weeks I cannot say. Yet, have another look at what Mr. Bentley wrote as quoted above and then hear these excerpts from when she spoke at Lakeland’s Ignited Church on June 11, 2008…
[While her evangelist husband was speaking to large crowds at televised services at night, the church had morning services for those who had come to the revival and wanted extra prayer. These morning services were low key and although this particular service was apparently broadcast over Ignited Church’s own video feed, these video services were not saved on their extensive Ustream.tv feed page archive. I’ve obtained an audio CD of her remarks, which Ignited Church seems not to sell through their online bookstore.]
The service that morning was an informal interview of Shonnah Bentley conducted by Kira Mitchell, one of Todd Bentley’s “associate ministers”. Ms. Mitchell, in the process of asking Mrs. Bentley questions to coax out her life story, asks about her bout with bone cancer:
[The quotes, as you will see, are verbatim]
Mitchell: “And so, Shonnah went through over a ten hour operation and—do you want to share what they did with your leg?—as you can see Shonnah’s leg is physically unable to bend and maybe you’ve always thought like, ‘Why does she walk so funny across the stage?” or whatever, and so can you explain what they did?
Shonnah Bentley: “So what they did is during the 10 hour operation they removed my knee completely in the left leg. I have no knee. And what they did is they put a metal rod from the top of my leg to just above my ankle and—just to fuse the whole leg together. So, I will never be able to bend my leg unless God does a creative miracle, but, you know, the doctors [say] I’ll be like this until the day I die kind of thing. They just basically fused everything together and the cancer was in the upper part of my leg so what they did is they removed the bone and they removed the muscle and they put the rod through just to fuse everything together and then I was in the hospital for a month after that recovering.”
Mitchell; “And Shonnah also had to have part of her lung removed as the cancer also spread to her lung and so she had part of that removed.”
It would have been very interesting, given that people were allegedly being spectacularly healed, to see Mr. Bentley bring his wife up for prayer in front of an evening audience. She was there one evening for sure, when several famed charismatic Christian teachers and evangelists came to Lakeland to “commission” Mr. Bentley into ministry. Did they lack faith, or lack consideration of Mrs. Bentley’s needs?
Bringing Mrs. Bentley up on stage would have posed a problem for the evangelist. Praying for a miracle for Shonnah, and not having it happen, would have implied that prayers at the revival were only partly successful. Not the best advertisement when you are trying to attract a crowd, I know, but perhaps more honest.
A spectacular healing of Mrs. Bentley, I note, would have been the “just one” person that the ABC News reporter was asking Mr. Bentley to provide as evidence that his “healing” revival was truly, well, healing people. How unfortunate that he lacked the courage to try. [I’ll bet that Mr. Bentley steered the ABC crew away from his wife, as I know that their reporter and producer were on the ball and would have asked, “Say, why is your wife hobbling? Don’t you pray for her?”]
You see, Mr. Bentley’s theology has difficulties with people not being miraculously healed. Christians of all stripes can attest to times when prayer to God has helped people to recover from illness and times when it has not. Certainly, given the loving and merciful nature of God as reflected in Christian theology, and the several Biblical references to prayer for the sick, it can be an expression of kindness and mercy by the Christian to either pray for the sick or offer them medical care or comfort.
Mr. Bentley, however, has moved from a balanced and mature approach to the subject to one that, while boosting Mr. Bentley’s alleged expertise in these matters, implies to the sick and needy that there is something wrong with you or your faith if you are not healed.
In 2004 he issued a self-published book, Christ’s Healing Touch, Volume 1-- which I suspect will be reworked a little and published with a new title, Kingdom Rising, by Destiny Image in the U.S. later this month. In this 2004 book, Mr. Bentley relates several stories of alleged “creative miracles”—instances where something brand new and whole such as a new eye was created from nothing—and then adds:
“I believe God wants to raise our faith to the level where creative miracles like these are normal events in our lives and ministries. He wants us to have a revelation of God as Creator so we can have faith to believe for, and to bring about, creative miracles…we will realize how easy creative miracles are…I believe a time is coming when our thinking will be so transformed that when someone says ‘I was in a meeting last night and people’s blind eyes were being opened’, we won’t be very surprised.”
“I have definitely grown in levels on healing in my ministry,”’ he adds (and remember that this was written four years ago). “I remember when [healing] a headache or back pain was intimidating. Today, we see people coming out of wheelchairs or being healed of incurable diseases. I am growing in my spirit to a kingdom place of authority in the area of creative miracles.”
Imagine the pressure this sort of mindset places on those wanting to be healed.
You may remember that Mr. Bentley stated flatly in his autobiography that “God” healed his wife. The whole truth, as his wife related in her remarks at Ignited Church, is that doctors may have had a great deal to do with it.
She relates that several pastors prayed for her to recover from her bone cancer. The added emphasis is mine:
Shonnah Bentley “….My grandmother called me up and said ‘Why don’t you come over to my house?’ This was before I had the surgery…She says ‘Why don’t you come to the house and I’ll get a couple of my pastors to pray?’ And so my family said ‘Okay’ because we were desperate, we wanted, we were willing to do anything…So, basically we went and my grandmother had these two pastors pray and I remember when we had the pastors pray that we went there and—and remember that we were still from a Catholic background—[that] they were praying in tongues so we were like ‘What the heck is going on? What are these people doing?’ We didn’t understand, but at the time we weren’t concerned about that. I believe that was the first time we really felt God’s presence.”
This is sometimes how Christians see prayer at work. In Mrs. Bentley’s account, prayer here, practically, is at least a comfort—if not more—to help the sick person. Yet, doctors are seen as working in partnership with whatever God may be doing behind the scenes. It’s not “either or” But “both and”. Balanced and wise.
Mr. Bentley’s own approach, however, has evolved over the years. In 2001 he told me, for a Report magazine story, that he never told people that they were healed and advised them to work with their doctors. Even a cursory glance at what was happening in Lakeland this summer, however, showed Bentley impulsively implying that people were “healed” again and again.
Todd Bentley’s wife Shonnah’s lasting disability is an opportunity for Mr. Bentley to learn and mature in his faith, one that he would throw away by divorcing her. There are many people who would like to be healed by God, but whom are not. Many Christian theologians and ministers have explored the issue of how God can and does work in and through a sick person’s life and witness even if they are not instantly healed at a revival crusade. As someone who likes to specialize in this particular form of faith healing evangelism, Mr. Bentley really owes it to the rest of his audience to flesh out his theology.
If we presume that God would want to show compassion to everyone in Bentley’s audience, he needs to think of people like the man featured in the ABC News Nightline feature on him. The man, with a gravely ill son, had brought his son to Lakeland to be healed. Due to the size of the crowd, it would admittedly have been unrealistic to expect Todd Bentley to pray for his son, or declare from the pulpit that God had “healed” someone with the exact description of his son’s illness. But, the man and his son left the revival meeting with no one having prayed for them at all.
When criticized, Mr. Bentley often cites the alleged woes of his pre-Christian past as a reason for people to sympathize with him. Ironically, his wife’s disability offers him a valid reason to get sympathy, as people would realize that God does not have to heal someone to do good things through them. (The audiences that Shonnah Bentley has begun to speak to as part of Fresh Fire’s work may attest to that.) Mr. Bentley’s actions this summer show that he is “only human” in a bad way. It would be much better for Mr. Bentley to be humble, acknowledge his wife’s disability, and thereby show his humanity in a good way.
Mr. Bentley must realize that if, he divorces his current wife in favor of a trophy wife, there will be speculation in the minds of some of his Internet and Christian media critics that one of the reasons that he is getting rid of Shonnah is because her disability embarrasses him—and moreover, that his theology does not work with a wife hobbling along at his side.
One hopes that he will do the right thing and stay with his wife. One can pray that he will--and that everyone disappointed by Mr. Bentley’s flawed revival will be ministered to…some day…
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"...Wolves in sheep's clothing, not sparing the flock".
I believe in Miracles, but not ones that are flaunted on t.v. to millions of viewers. I believe in healers, not cultist hacks with tatoos and believe in showmanship.
Posted by: Condor | 2008-10-18 10:50:46 PM
The reason why Bentley may divorce his wife also have to do with the embarrasing fact that he is unable to heal her when he has made so many fantastic (yet unsubstantiated) claims of healings and dead raisings. Like Benny Hinn before him he makes these claims without healing the other televangelists and family members around them. When they are sick they, ironically, go to a doctor yet they expect those they have deceived to come to them for healing. If this article is true and Bentley will be back shortly, this is another black eye on true Christianity, Bentley having brought the truth into disrepute in the eyes of the world. For more information on Bentley go here:
Posted by: DITC | 2008-10-19 1:52:15 AM
Total lunacy gobbled up by the bovine.
And this is the crowd we turn to for our moral foundation? Idiocy.
It proves my coined phrase over and over again. We are "Fraudulent Apes" first and foremost lying to ourselves. Religion is the foundation of that fraud, the indoctrination begun in the malleable, vulnerable minds of infants. There is no defense against that kind of indoctrinated propaganda. Very few rise above the lie in their lives. Take a look at the last 2000 years and the bloodshed and wars caused by religions and you will be able to judge thje tree by the fruit it bears.
I've spoken in tongues with the gullible and know this lie inside out. I've never ever seen anyone on Street drugs in such a s6tate of lunatic psychosis. I truly know that "Religion: (is) the worm in Adam's Apple"
Posted by: budoracle | 2008-10-19 10:45:34 AM
budoracle says to take a look at the bloodshed and wars caused by religions over the last 2000 years while forgetting to look at the bloodshed and wars caused by the officially non religious over the last 100 years. Sorry but the number of bodies from the non religious far outnumber the others.
This has everything to do with human nature rather than religion. Those lusting for power, control and/or money can be found in almost all movements or ideologies, so religion is not their only haven. Personally I respect the beliefs or religion of others as long as they do not try to impose them on me - and this applies to the secularists as much as to the religious. I think that what truly counts is how a person lives his or her life and he or she treats others rather than what they believe.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-10-19 12:53:02 PM
Yeah, you are right Allain, these things are basic human nature magnified way beyond their natural impact through the cohesive harnessing effect of religion. All of it designed to help build huge aggressively controlling societies modeled on religion, based on the supremacy of their gods and their righteousness for the purpose of conquering weaker societies in the name of god, is just my marijuana enhanced imagination coming up against your religious clarity?
Again, I state to you that Mohamed Attah's last words as he saw his reflection approaching in the glass of the world trade tower, were not "pass the joint bro" but "Praise Allah." I think that one took place in the last 100 years didn't it? You must not be of the supreme intelligence that you have conferred upon yourself and your unbiased analysis seems to have just missed that one?
As an Oracle without faith in your god I am 100% positive that he said those words.
Also, I believe that it was the Bible that the Zoinists based their invasion of Paletine on. Wasn't that in the last 100 years, too? And the dealing isn't done on that one yet, is i, Alain?
Like all believers your are a "Fraudulent Ape" believing your own lies. As I can easily prove, eh?
Wow, I am really proud that I have run for the real issues in the Vancouver city elections and I am very please with the numbers and the labeled IP addresses which are visiting. My podcasts are a hit. And compared to most other, which seem to be profession [political entities, I am a real person with a grip on vital issues.
Now I even campaign to every city employee and cop that crosses my path. I stand a good chance and will put my campaign of reason, non religious nonsense, into overdrive.
Watch me! People are tired of the old religious moronic logic and boldfaced lies.
Posted by: budoracle | 2008-10-19 1:51:00 PM
budoracle, your comments only confirm that you are as fanatical about your secular religion as the other fanatics are about their religions. Religious fanaticism is not limited to churches, temples, synagogues or mosques.
Considering that you are totally ignorant as to what I believe or do not believe, you again confirm your fanatism by claiming to know that I a believer (of what?) and a fraudulent ape. My, my but that is the kind of comment that puts you on pare with the Islamists. It is unlikely that one could find a higher degree of intolerance among religious extremists than one finds with people like you. In conclusion you belong in the same category as all others seeking to impose their beliefs on the non believers.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-10-19 5:11:32 PM
No, Alain, I use facts not color what I see with belief. And yes I am very fanatical about the Crap which has ensconced itself under the guise of god and is causing havoc in our world, as all thinking people should be. The end will come if let the believing morons rule us into Armageddon as those war criminal christian idiots at the very top of America's terror government have stated.
No, you are the dangerous fools and always have been, I want to live free not under your violent fraud, and you bet your dumb religious behind, I'm passionate about that, even to the point of being fanatically free. You idiots have had 200 years to install your stupid lies and you call me fanatical.
Today at the anti war demo I met up with another one of your contentious ilk. If your god had any power at all he wouldn't need the help of millions of fraudulent argumentative morons to help tell us so. We would very plainly see it and not need the dumb human trying to tell me what god wants for me.
Posted by: budoracle | 2008-10-19 6:09:48 PM
budoracle - on top of being an intolerant religious fanatic, I note you are unable to comprehend English. Anyone having read what I have written will see how your silly rant is totally unrelated, so debating with you is frankly a waste of time. Naturally such a nutter would live in Vancouver; no wonder the place is such a mess.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-10-19 7:26:51 PM
You don't debate, rather you immediately resort to personal insults. This is the mark of a true moron who will always blame the other for not making sense. I have historical facts on my side and you aired propaganda. You are the idiot that wanted to rewrite history and couldn't do it so you resorted to insults and denigrating me.
This is the fraudulent tactic of a religious nut.
Posted by: budoracle | 2008-10-19 8:10:39 PM
And about the place being in such a mess? It has you side that has been in control since the Roman Empire was overthrown by violent christian uoprisings and throughout the time of the Crusades until toda,y where we still see morons like Harper and GWB espouse their god nonsense. And want to blame it on my kind? When has my kind ever had the power to change things for the better or worse? You are the idiot by far.
Posted by: budoracle | 2008-10-19 8:14:42 PM
Check out the video on this site: http://www.justinpeters.org
Living with cerebral palsy, Mr. Peters is in a uniques position to speak on false prophets such as Bentley. He is an expert on this movement and brings great clarity to those deceived by it. Peters gave the full length seminar at my church and comes highly recommended by my pastor, Dr. John MacArthur.
Posted by: CLS | 2008-10-19 9:02:58 PM
A faith healer? You are going to all this trouble to "discredit" a faith healer?
You are so easily distracted by such an obvious scam?
Save it for the National Enquirer.
Posted by: epsilon | 2008-10-19 11:49:44 PM
Religious fanaticism is not limited to churches, temples, synagogues or mosques. -- Alain
Politics can do equally well; Naziism and Communism, twin scourges of the 20th Century, were basically POLITICAL cults. Naziism had itself wrapped up in a single charismatic god-king, Communism as a cosmic-level philosophy explaining Everything (with asides into god-kings along the way).
Because "Men of Sin" will glom onto any cosmic-level authority -- Bible, Koran, Marx, Freud, Darwin, Science, Nature, you name it -- to justify what they were going to do anyway.
Posted by: Headless Unicorn Guy | 2008-10-20 8:36:15 AM
WOW!!! The Million Dollar Todd Bentley Hoax!!! WOW!!! Todd says God told him to get 1,000 people to give $1,000 dollars. When people confronted Todd, Todd admitted that God did not say that. WOW!!! Proof positive that Todd Bentley is spiritually abusing everyone. Todd Bentley is EXPOSED as a LIAR and a THIEF!!!
Third Wave leaders such Peter Wagner, John Arnott, Che Ahe, Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner, and Dutch Sheets are not only deceived but are deceivers. They are evil, wicked and unrepented and supporters of Todd Bentley who is a liar, a thief and an adulterer and is divorcing his wife because she is a cripple who was destroyed by cancer rather than healing her demonstrating the compassion and love of Christ to his wife? No Todd is demonized and he is displaying the works of the devil and the flesh including being a drunk and fornicator!
According to a well placed source in “Charisma” it was Todd Bentley’s drinking binge and return to alcohol that was the straw that broke the camel’s back after his shacking up with another woman who was not his wife during the so called revival! And of course Todd Bentley has not repented of all of this nor has he demonstrated fruits worthy of repentance nor does he care about his wife and his children.
According to A Lakeland Update From C. Peter Wagner October 29, 2008 Rick, along with the Morningstar leadership team, has offered to help in his restoration. With great confidence, Revival Alliance recommends this as the appropriate process for Todd’s healing and restoration. Todd will be moving to Morningstar Ministries to live for a season.
Posted by: Pam | 2008-11-04 2:52:08 AM
I have witnessed the same type of fraud taking place at Benny Hinn shows.
As far as Mr. Bentley wording things in a way that leads people to believe things that are not true, and not being able to get him to be entirely truthful unless one knows what the answers *should* be before he is questioned; that reminds me of some of the kids that I have had legal custody of. The children that have fetal alcohol issues and/or reactive attachment tend to respond in the same way.
Very difficult to work with - and not a great chance of that ever changing. The only reason I can think that some of these leaders might be trying to "rehabilitate" Bently and get him back on stage is because he was a great money maker fo9r them. And I say that as an evangelical Christian who has been around the block a few times.
Posted by: Lisa | 2008-11-22 6:12:51 PM
TODD BENTLEY IS A LIAR AND A DECEIVER WHO IS PLAYING GAMES AND IS FOOLING NO ONE
November 28, 2008
Greetings to our FFM Partners—past and present.
Please allow us to begin by sincerely apologizing for the long silence between our first two letters and this one. We will do our best to help you understand why it has taken us so long to respond to your many legitimate requests for information. Please also know that we write this letter as an explanation of our silence and not a defense of it.
We have received letters, emails and phone calls from many of you during the last three months, expressing sympathy and support as well as frustration and disappointment. We ourselves have been on an emotional rollercoaster for some time now and have found that looking to the Lord for His new mercies every morning enables us to make it through the day.
In light of our lack of communication, some of you have felt the need to withdraw your partnership with Fresh Fire Ministries; we completely understand and both release and bless you in your walk with God. Others have been compelled to discontinue their giving as a result of the economic crisis in America and in other countries around the world. We thank you for the many years of faithful support, and wish you to know that it was not in vain; more on that later. Nonetheless if you must go, for whatever reason, we trust that the Lord will lead you in connecting with the many other excellent ministries out there faithfully advancing His kingdom. Some of you have received so much good word and powerful impartation through FFM, that you might consider starting your own ministry.
Moving on, let us first say that we know, without a shadow of doubt, that Lakeland was and is an authentic move of God. Having known Todd well for many years, both his amazing strengths and his areas of weakness, we can say without reservation that the move of God in Lakeland, which began at Ignited Church, was genuine. We have never seen, in the history of this ministry, a greater quantity and quality of the miraculous demonstration of God’s healing power. As the Lord began to pour out His glory in Ignited Church and in the many venues that followed, Todd’s spirit was as pure as it has ever been and he was intensely hungry for more of God’s presence. He would spend hours soaking each day before the evening meeting, and once the worship had begun, Todd would become lost in the presence of God. The manifestation of amazingly accurate words of knowledge and astounding miracles flowed effortlessly night after night.
As the Outpouring continued, the Board of Directors and other leaders in Lakeland suggested that Todd take a few days off each week to rest and refresh. We learned from experience, however, and the post-Lakeland counsel of Christian leaders, that the anointing can be addictive. Significant personal issues in Todd’s life and make-up, as well as, flaws in the functioning structure of our leadership resulted in an impossible pace to maintain… seven nights a week for more than 15 weeks on end. We fully accept the responsibility as a Board of Directors for this lapse in judgment; we should have required that not just Todd and the team, but the entire Outpouring rest a minimum of one day a week. God himself rested after six days work as a pattern for His creation, and if the yoke of the Lord is easy and His burden is light, then He has no need to exhaust His people in a fresh encounter with Him.
As fatigue began to set in, significant personal issues in Todd and in his relationship with Shonnah were exacerbated. This, together with his increased familiarity with a female staff member created more tension in the Bentleys’ relationship. As the pressure of leading the revival continued, media attention increased resulting in less and less personal time. With the development of more friction in his marriage relationship, Todd began to make irrational decisions. Alcohol, movies and leisure time spent with a few of the younger, more impressionable members of his staff and road-crew began to replace the hours of soaking in the presence of God in which Todd had engaged during the early days of the Outpouring. Finally, Todd began to burn out, and things came to a head in his relationship with Shonnah. He was unwilling to put distance between himself and the female staff member and ultimately told Shonnah he wanted a separation.
The fact that the revival was in Florida, three thousand miles from our home office in Abbotsford, BC Canada, meant that the entire administration for the revival was provided by a rotating stream of church leaders and Board members who would assist behind the scenes and on the platform for a few weeks at a time and then return to Canada, usually on the verge of total exhaustion. Trying to keep up with the logistics of administrating the revival, including the massive challenge of moving from venue to venue until we finally arrived in the tent along with the media circus that ensued shortly afterwards, meant that communication was greatly inhibited between the leaders involved. Many early signs that something was drastically wrong were overlooked. By the time we became fully aware and/or were willing to admit how dysfunctional things had become behind the scenes, the damage had already been done.
As to our long silence in writing to you, please let us explain. We have been in much contact with Rick Joyner, Bill Johnson, John Arnott and other members of a team focused on restoring Todd, seeking to do all within our power to encourage him to embrace a process of counseling and genuine accountability. In deference to these leaders we have refrained from communicating at all until we could be assured that we were all on the same page. At the same time, senior members of the leadership team here at Fresh Fire as well as members of the Board of Directors have been stretched to the breaking point in attempting to deal with all of the attention created not just by the revelations of Todd’s marriage problems and personal issues, but also by the five months of revival preceding their disclosure. Since then, many false accusations and rumors surrounding both Todd and the Lakeland Outpouring have attempted to use Todd’s failures as a springboard to question the legitimacy of the revival. Consequently, key leaders have had to step back and rest in order not to burn-out themselves. This, coupled with the busy schedules of the restoration team, all of whom travel internationally, has made getting everyone on the same page difficult.
We so appreciate all those who have stepped in to assist the FFM Board in a process of restoration for Todd, but what we have come to realize is that ultimately, the buck stops with the FFM Board of Directors. No one knows Todd better, or has more access to all the facts from both sides than we do.
Again, we apologize for not writing to you sooner. We struggled for a while with the question of how to satisfy two important obligations – that of honoring Todd, while believing for his restoration and at the same time, our obligation to be completely honest and open with you as our partners. Through much prayer and with the Lord’s help, we hope to satisfy both those obligations with this letter.
There is a difference between covering Todd and covering for him. We refuse to expose explicit details of his failings over the last few months, but neither will we pretend there haven’t been any. “Covering” is a biblical term as in “love covers over a multitude of sins” or as in the case when Noah’s two sons draped him in a blanket when he unwittingly discovered what happens when you drink too much fermented grape juice. “Cover for” is a contemporary idiom meaning to lie or misrepresent the truth in order to enable another to get away with or to continue to be involved in illicit behavior. We have been slow in responding up until now, because we wanted to bring you a positive report, full of hope and the promise of restoration. All of that is still entirely possible and we pray to that end, however, further silence on our part would be misrepresenting the truth by allowing you to believe that what we said in our first two statements (which were true to the best of our knowledge at the time of their writing) is still the case. Unfortunately that is not so.
Here are the facts:
1. Todd has yet to enter into a clear system of accountability with the leaders he identified that would be involved in such a process. Todd has visited Rick Joyner in Fort Mills, South Carolina, and indicated early on in September that he would be moving there soon to become a part of the community there and to receive counseling from Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, Bill Johnson and others that Rick might feel to bring alongside. Todd is in regular contact with Rick Joyner and has agreed together with Rick that he will move to Fort Mills during the first few months of 2009.
2. Having spoken with Todd in recent days, he is resolute in his intentions to divorce Shonnah, and in his mind, the restoration he is seeking is one which would not include reconciliation with his wife. Todd admits to being 100% responsible for the divorce.
3. It also needs to be clarified that Shonnah has in no way initiated this divorce and has no present intention to do so at any time in the future. She is understandably hurt by Todd’s infidelity, but is not asking or pressing for a divorce. The legal separation from Shonnah was initiated completely by Todd and he has not seen her or the children since the last week in July. To our knowledge, Todd’s relationship with the female staff-member, who was a former intern and also, at his initiative, a live-in nanny in his house for over a year, is still ongoing. We believe that there are currently no biblical grounds for Todd to leave his wife and children. While it has been maintained that no physical contact happened between Todd and the former female intern until after he filed for legal separation from Shonnah, in the Boards’ eyes, the nature of the present relationship between Todd and his former staff member is that of adultery.
Having said all that, our sincere desire is to see Todd first restored to Shonnah and the children, though at present this seems unlikely. We are optimistic that should Todd keep his word and move to Morning Star, Rick and his team are well equipped to be the Lord’s instruments in a process toward restoration. With genuine accountability, inner healing, counseling and deliverance we are confident that it is entirely possible for Todd to come through and gain victory over a number of significant personal issues with which he is struggling.
We love Todd dearly and so appreciate the ground he has broken, not just for us, but for many tens if not hundreds of thousands within the body of Christ. Todd’s genuine love for the Lord, his hunger and passion for souls and his tangible demonstration of the love of God in miracles, signs and wonders will be remembered for many years to come. Todd is a champion in the Global paradigm shift from a lethargic and dunamis-deficient church to an empowered body of believers carrying out the Great Commission in a mighty demonstration of the Spirit’s power. That’s how we, and we think many others, will choose to regard Todd even if he doesn’t allow the Holy Ghost to work a process of restoration in his life. If he will, and we pray sincerely for that, then only God knows what can be accomplished through this young fire-brand’s life.
It is our deep desire that our brother Todd should be restored, and we are still hopeful that this will be achieved. Please let us make it clear, that although what Todd has done is inexcusable, it is not unforgiveable. We do not judge him unworthy of a second, third or even fourth chance, and we hope that you don’t either. The Lord spoke clearly that those desiring mercy themselves would be well advised to give it to others, and the Lord has brought amazing goodness and life out of far worse circumstances.
The Lord has been speaking to us about sins of commission and sins of omission. Many may look at Todd and judge him for what he has done and excuse or justify themselves on the basis that they have not failed or sinned (missed the mark) in the areas in which Todd has failed. But if we are going to judge Todd by what he has done, then we need to include all that he has done. And if we will excuse ourselves on the basis of what we have not done, then we must also take into account all that we have not done.
Todd Bentley has demonstrated himself unfaithful to his wife by entering into a relationship with another woman while still legally married. He has consumed more alcohol on a few occasions than is prudent or becoming a Christian leader (or any believer for that matter). His sins have been sins of the flesh and we do not defend them.
He has, however, also seen over 1 million people make decisions for Christ in the 10 years of his ministry. He has been instrumental in seeing the Lord heal tens of thousands of people (if not more) of all manner of sickness and disease through the personal laying on of his hands and who knows how many others vicariously through television and the internet, or though the prayers of those who received the healing anointing through Todd’s ministry. He has been used by the Lord to give countless accurate prophetic words and words of knowledge to thousands of people around the globe, and his testimony and passion for God just since April 2 in Lakeland, Florida has touched literally millions through the internet and television.
Jesus said, “They are my children who obey my commandments”, and if the theme of the Ten commandments in the Old Testament is “Thou Shall Not”, then the theme of the Two Greatest Commandments as outlined by Jesus in the New Testament in Mark 15: 30-31 is most definitely, “Thou Shall!”
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength… (and)…You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (NIV).
As is also said in 1 John 4:20-21
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
How many believers have become almost vicious in their attack against Todd, demonizing not only him but his ministry and everything he has ever done? What sort of spirit do you think is behind this? And how many around the world are sick and dying and unsaved because of what we, the global body of believers, have not done? Because we have not been obedient to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out devils (Matt. 10:8). Nothing is defined by what it is not, but rather by what it is; not by what it does not do, but by what it does do.
What Todd has done should not only be defined by his present failure. He has raised the bar on what is possible. He has broken a barrier of sorts for all of us and made a pathway into new possibilities. This is what you partnered with - not a man but a transferable anointing and an ability to reach into a combined realm of prophetic revelation and signs and wonders manifestation! Guard your deposit and don’t let the enemy’s backlash rob you of what you have already received. At the same time we openly admit that what Todd has done at the height of his supernatural breakthrough has resulted in a tragic breakdown in the natural causing great pain to many, but to none so deeply as to his wife and children.
Yet in all this we have been challenged and chastised by the Lord to remain gentle in our hearts toward him while we pray and encourage him to do the right thing and to come into accountability.
Galatians 6:1 is very clear in its instruction on how and with what attitude we are to restore one who has fallen,
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (NIV).
Maintaining gentleness of heart towards Todd means that we do not write him off or wish any manner of evil upon him. We need to continue to pray for him and to keep a door of relationship open to him. We are willing to assist in the process of his restoration, messy though it may be. Neither does a gentle heart towards Todd mean condoning what he has done nor enabling him to live in sin by either our support or our silence.
So please pray for Todd and also for Shonnah and their family. Pray with fervency that the Lord would do a mighty miracle for the number one purpose of bringing vindication to His Name, but also that we might see our brother restored. We cannot control a person’s choices, nor have we any desire to do so. What we can control is our response to their choices and see the Lord take what the enemy means for evil and work it together for good.
We at Fresh Fire Ministries are presently in a season of waiting on God. We are in the process of re-defining our government structure with assistance from leaders in Bethel (the church pastored by Bill Johnson in Redding, California) and others affiliated with Morning Star—Rick Joyner’s ministry in South Carolina. In August, Todd verbally stepped down from the FFM Canadian Board of Directors and has recently given written notice of his resignation. With Todd no longer at the helm we are looking to identify vision-casters from within and to refocus the ministry’s endeavors in keeping with the original mandate of Fresh Fire Ministries. In the coming weeks we will provide you, our partners with a detailed update of our vision and emerging leadership structure.
There is one area of the ministry that is seeing increased activity, and of all the many ventures and endeavors FFM has been engaged in, we believe this one to be closest to the heart of God. The Uganda Jesus Village in Africa is continuing to expand, with the building of homes on our recently purchased 35 acres of land just outside of Kampala, Uganda. Over the course of the summer, two brand new homes which will house eight to ten children each have been completed and construction is beginning on two more this week.
The purest expression of our faith as defined by the Lord in James 1:27 is to look to the needs of widows and orphans. Many FFM Partners and Missions’ Team Members have visited our children’s home in Uganda, commenting on the amazing transformation in the lives of these children orphaned by war and disease. Currently we are housing over 60 children in Kampala with a long-term vision to rescue as many as 500 children from the war-torn northern part of Uganda. We are in regular communication with our missionaries in Africa, Luke and Suzanne Jones and their family, and there is so much excitement in their hearts at the prospect of being able to rescue more children.
In this interim period as we wait on the Lord for clarification of our governmental structure we will continue to press forward in the work of supporting and expanding our Uganda Jesus Village. We thank all of our Partners that have given to this work and all of you that have sponsored and continue to sponsor the children in the homes.
Again, our sincerest apologies in having taken so long to respond and communicate to you, our beloved Partners. We thank you all for the grace you have extended us in this difficult season and together we look forward expectantly to brighter days ahead.
God poured Himself out in Florida and through the internet and television, around the world. Not on a man alone, but on a hungry body of believers has He given the seal of His Holy Spirit in power to be witnesses of His saving grace throughout the world. Through the weakness and failure of man, the enemy seeks to defame and discredit what God has done in empowering and authenticating his Church as carriers of His power and anointing to accomplish His purposes in the earth for His Glory.
Let us do as Elisha did when standing alone after a season of mentoring and impartation. Let us swing the mantle that we now carry, the mantle of God’s Glory, and together cross over to the other side.
God is waiting for us in 2009—certain to be our greatest year yet!
We understand you may have questions and concerns that you want to express to us. We love you all so much in Christ, and we welcome you to contact us by phone at 604-853-9041 or email [email protected] . We look forward to hearing from you.
Blessings in Jesus name!
Fresh Fire Leadership and Board of Directors
Posted by: brad | 2008-11-28 7:15:13 PM
Todd Bentley has disappeared from public ministry. To a few, it is a welcomed correction in the American Christian movement. However, many so-called leaders continue to fail to admit the great deception that was allowed to rage in the church had any lasting influence affect upon those poor seduced souls that were subjected to this spiritual clown.
8.08.08 Todd’s last public appearance.
“God said, “Today, I will break every yoke.” Was this a self prophecy?
Unless delivered, false doctrines, a different gospel and doctrines of demons place permanent spiritual marks on those who participate in them. Deceiving spirits are used by the god of this world to steal souls. The masses that were drawn to this false prophet were simply left in the darkness of their souls with false explanations that Bentley reverted into an emotional experience with another woman and is divorcing his wife. The followers were told by the very same false prophets that arrived in Lakeland and gave him those heady prophecies of his supposedly anointed future, (which never happened) are “restoring him.” Who is restoring them?
Although Bentley’s ministry was thoroughly examined for biblical legitimacy and found to be a gospel filled with demonic influences, most church leaders still tell their congregations that it was just a matter of weakness of his flesh and he fell into sin. People are bound with powerful cult demons that have spiritually blinded them and no one has tried to help them to find freedom from the demons that have captured their souls.
Many, including this writer have related the horror of demonic powers that possessed the victims of crazy revival of Bentley. Seduced people that have been bound by powerful kundalini demons must be set free by driving those demons out through deliverance in the name of Jesus. Once a devil has been invited in, they must be driven out; otherwise, the victim will stay chained by the powers of darkness. How many will land in hell because of this insane deception of this spiritual clown? We will know at the Judgment Seat of Jesus.
Meantime, while the church continues to center upon such things as: Did Todd commit adultery? Is he still living with the jezebel woman that took him away from his family? Is he still drinking? Where is he hiding now? Who is restoring him? Has he repented? Bentley has become a soap opera to entertain the dumbed down minds of the church.
Hardly anyone is concerned about the deadly affect of those captured, blinded, wounded victims who are now being tormented by devils. Many have simply fallen away and no longer attend church while others have gone into deeper deceptions such as being entertained by vulture ministers who are really merchandisers of their souls.
Meanwhile, the most unpopular ministries in America continues to be, freedom giving, devil driving, and deliverance ministers. Sleep on Church, Jesus is coming soon.
http://www.patholliday.com/radio.php mp3, radio
Posted by: Pat Holliday | 2008-12-13 2:51:29 PM
While I find Todd Bentley to be the worst kind of fraud I can still honestly say I believe God heals people. I've been healed by prayer once it wasn't anything life threatening, I just had strep throat and without medical insurance I was reluctant to go to a doctor. So anyway I visit a friend of my mom's who held Bible study in her home. She saw how miserable I was and asked me if I would let her pray for me. I figured at this point it certainly couldn't hurt I felt like I was swallowing shards of glass, and nothing I was taking was helping so I let her. About halfway through the pray it felt like someone was pouring cool water down my throat it was so soothing and it tingled a little by the time she was done my throat felt fine. So after that experience I know God heals and prayer works but that doesn't mean everyone who says they have a healing ministry is telling the truth. The lady who prayed for me never claimed any ministry of any kind she just believed that if she asked God would do it.
Posted by: Raina | 2008-12-16 12:15:58 PM
wow. I have never seen so much judgement on a man or his wife..Didnt apostle paul have a thorn in his flesh and asked god to remove it but god said my grace is enough.....Thers a time and a season for gods healing on all of us. shonnahs isnt yet but the healing virtue is in her. its been released.I dont like the talk and judgements on todd bentley or anyone else in a ministry..GOD is still going to use him. The gospel has to be told. SO if he is in such bad sin then thats between him and GOD.NOT us..We are doing no better in gossip as ET on tv gossiping about the stars.....Pray for todd and shonnah.Dont keep bashing him till the yr 3000.The church of christ must be bored.Say your peace but only once then move on..We all live in glass houses but i guess most of you suddenly covered yours up...Talk, talk, talk,yack yack yack..Get over it..GOD will deal with it..
Posted by: mary | 2009-02-09 5:06:44 PM
MARRIAGE = A COVENANT BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN...UNTIL DEATH
Divorce + Remarriage = Adultery
Posted by: Search Your Bible | 2009-04-03 1:33:36 AM
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