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The Persecuted Church

 

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MY INVOLVEMENT WITH, AND DELIVERANCE FROM, THE "TORONTO
EXPERIENCE"
(First published March 1996, updated June 2006)
by SALLY RICHARDSON

My involvement with Toronto first started in July 1994. At that time, I
was in a paid position of leadership in the Anglican church I attended,
and on the church Staff Team.

In July 1994, the leadership of many churches in west London received an
invitation to attend a meeting at a certain church in Acton, west London,
which was a Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) church plant. The purpose of this
meeting, the invitation letter explained, was for people to hear about and
experience for themselves what was described as the "new move" of the Holy
Spirit happening at the Airport Vineyard Church, Toronto and being known
to some as the Toronto Blessing. The letter stated that various members of
HTB had recently returned from Toronto and wanted to share all they had
learnt there and then pass it on in ministry afterwards.

Several of us in leadership in my church, including myself, attended. I
remember at the time feeling very excited because, if this was, as was
being claimed, a new move of the Holy Spirit, then I wanted to be part of
it and to experience everything that was on offer. Others in our party
were a lot more careful and cautious in their approach.

We arrived at the church where the meeting was to be held to find it full
- there were no spare chairs. Someone hastened to find some for us, and
meanwhile, the meeting started. There was a great sense of excited
anticipation in the air; so tangible was it, that it was almost electric
in effect.

At that point, our chairs were brought to us, but owing to lack of space
in the church, the members of our party could not sit together. We were
therefore separated and given chairs in various locations round the
church. I remember I was sitting in the aisle, at the end of a row, and
very near the front.

The meeting started with praise and worship before the various people who
had been to Toronto were brought to the front, and introduced, the notable
exception being Sandy Millar, Leading Minister at HTB. Every person at the
front was exhibiting various unusual manifestations such as jumping up and
down like pogo sticks, jerking, laughing, convulsing, etc. As you can
imagine, it was very difficult for these people to speak, and so the
testimonies they gave were somewhat disjointed, to say the least!

Each person said that it was a "new thing" that God was doing, that it was
a new move of the Holy Spirit, and that it was an empowering and anointing
for ministry. We were then told that the time for ministry had come, and
so, having invited the Holy Spirit to come, the various members of HTB and
its associated churches began to move amongst the congregation, laying
hands on all they could reach.

As I had a prominent position in the aisle, I was one of the first to have
hands laid on me. Immediately, I went down on the floor, seemingly with
some considerable force, and began to roll around on the floor, laughing
uncontrollably. I seemed to be filled with an exceedingly great joy, which
I felt I could hardly contain.

After some considerable time, during which I had been unable to stop
rolling around on the floor laughing uncontrollably, I tried to get up and
return to my seat. However, I felt very groggy and unsteady and could only
manage to clamber halfway into my seat. As I did so, someone came up to
me, laid hands on me and said, "Give her more, Lord, give her more!" I
went down onto the floor once again, and the whole process of rolling
around and laughing uncontrollably started once again. Altogether, this
experience happened seven times in total - each time I tried to get up
from the floor, someone would come along, lay hands on me, utter the now
familiar words, "Give her more, Lord!", and off I would go again.

Two particular occasions stand out in my mind as I remember that night and
this particular meeting. On the first occasion, I had just had hands laid
on me for the third or fourth time and had fallen on the floor. As I lay
there, I was aware that my skirt had ridden up, and was somewhere around
my waist, exposing my person in somewhat indecent fashion. However, in
comparison to what was happening, this seemed so very trivial that I could
not be bothered to put my skirt down. All I did was lie there, laughing
uncontollably. Then someone came along and tugged at my skirt to pull it
down and make me decent. At this point, I glanced up and saw that the
person pulling my skirt down was none other than Sandy Millar. For some
reason, I found this uproariously funny, and laughed the harder and the
louder. I remember seeing, at the same time that Sandy Millar pulled my
skirt down, that various people in the congregation were either lying down
shaking and laughing, or staggering around, holding onto articles of
furniture to stop them from falling as they went.

On the second occasion, I remember having clambered onto a pew, where I
lay laughing and shaking uncontrollably. Once again, someone came up to me
and repeated the now very familiar words, "Give her more, Lord, give her
more!" Whereupon, I fell off the pew and onto the floor, where I lay
uncomfortably wedged between my own pew and the one in front, having
uncontollable hysterics yet again.

Eventually, it seemed, the meeting ended. By this time, my vicar and the
local Baptist minister had come over to me and were quite literally
pulling me up off the floor. I could hardly stand, and was falling,
staggering and flopping about like someone who had had too much to drink.
It was very obvious to my vicar and the Baptist minister that there was no
way that I could walk unaided, and so of one accord, they took one arm
each, and supporting me on either side, half led and half carried me out
of the church. I was laughing uncontrollably still, but as we left the
church, I glanced round to see what was happening. Some people were still
lying on the floor laughing and shaking, and others were staggering
drunkenly about. Yet others stood with vacant or bemused expressions on
their faces as though wondering what to make of it all.

Meanwhile, we were going out through the church doors and into the
car-park. Still, the two leaders were half carrying me, and when we got to
my vicar's car, they had to open the back door and deposit me like a sack
of potatoes on the seat. None of the others, I noticed, had been touched
in the way I had. I remember thinking, "Poor things - they HAVE missed
out!"

When we got back to the block of flats where we live, I was helped out of
the car and to the main entrance. I remember I could not open the door,
and our next door neighbour's son, who happened to be standing just
inside, saw me and opened it for me.

He made an exclamation of astonishment and said I had obviously had too
much to drink! I remember at this point thinking how grateful I was that
our flat was on the ground floor, otherwise I would never have got up the
stairs - our block of flats has five floors, and the local council has not
seen fit to install a lift!

I staggered into our flat and into the sitting-room, where my husband was
sitting watching television. He looked up at me as I entered, a look of
amazement and astonishment dawning on his face. "Are you drunk?" he asked.
"I thought you had been to a church meeting!" For some reason, I found
this remark highly amusing, and collapsed on the settee, laughing
uncontrollably. My poor husband! He just did not know what to make of it
all, and was very perturbed. Eventually, not being able to get any sense
out of me, he went to bed, leaving me to it. I remember, during one bout
of hysterical laughter, glancing at the wall-clock and seeing it said 2am.
I must have fallen asleep sometime after that because I awoke, around 5am
in the morning, in a stiff and awkward position on the settee. I still
felt groggy, as though it was the morning after the night before. Before I
became a Christian, I had had a drink problem, and used to get drunk
almost every night of the week on a bottle of wine or several strong
beers. This experience seemed no different, except of course, that I had
had no alcohol!

After that initial meeting, it was as though I could not get enough of
Toronto. Toronto was like a drug to me, and I needed my "fix". The more I
had, the more I wanted. I couldn't do without it. It was like being on a
permanent "high". When I had been to a Toronto meeting and had been
forward for yet another anointing, the effects on me were similar to when
I had dabbled with drugs, especially cannabis, in the years before I had
come to know the Lord. Cannabis had given me a light, floaty, dissociated
feeling, and this was the same, except I didn't have to pay for it!

One particular meeting, out of all the Toronto meetings I attended, stands
out in my mind. This was the Times of Refreshing Conference at HTB in
1995, and at which Nicky Gumbel was taking one session. I remember, I was
sitting with my friend Mandy just in front of the recording desk, when I
began to jerk and shake and jump up and down from my chair. I didn't seem
able to stop myself, despite holding tightly to the back of the chair in
front of me. The next thing I knew, I was jumping higher and higher each
time. One or two others, I noticed, were doing the same.

At this point, Nicky Gumbel stopped speaking and said, "There are people
here that God wants to anoint for a ministry of evangelism!" He beckoned
for us to come forward, which we did, I being the first to reach the
front. Nicky Gumbel laid hands on me and prayed for me, whereupon I
collapsed in a heap on the floor. Later, at that same conference, John and
Eleanor Mumford from the sw London Vineyard Church led a session. There
was no preaching or teaching - instead it was mostly Eleanor Mumford
sharing her testimony of how she had brought the Toronto Experience over
from the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church (as it was known then).

It was following this that Sandy Millar stepped forward and asked all
present (over 1,000) to take their chairs, and stack them up against the
walls so that ministry could begin. This having been done, he then invited
the Holy Spirit to come. Immediately, order flew out of the window and
complete and utter pandemonium reigned - people began falling like
ninepins, including myself, laughing, screaming and making various animal
noises as they went. Various anointings for various ministries were
announced as the meeting progressed, and there was total chaos as people
tried to make their way to the places where the various anointings were
taking place, pushing their way through the sea of bodies lying prostrate
on the floor jerking, convulsing, rolling and shaking. It was at this
point that I experienced some stirrings of doubt and misgiving, but I
quickly pushed them away and went off to receive my anointing or yet
another ministry.

A few days after the Times of Refreshing Conference, I received a letter
from a lady whose ministry I supported. She was writing in response to a
word of knowledge I had had for her, and was sharing how that word had
been pertinent to her circumstances at that time. She had enclosed with
her letter various news and prayer letters from several ministries,
including her own and those of Prophetic Word Ministries and Moriel. All,
without exception, were about the Toronto experience, saying it was not a
blessing at all, but a deception and a delusion and an alien spirit.

When I look back, I cannot think of any reason as to why this lady saw fit
to send these news and prayer letters except that the Lord had laid it on
her heart to do so. Much as I admired the ministries of those who had sent
them, I had great difficulty in accepting what they said about Toronto.
The lady whose ministry I supported recommended a tape by David Noakes, so
I wrote to him requesting a copy. Meanwhile, I was determined to know the
truth of the matter, so I took a day off work and went for a walk by the
river in Putney. Here, I found a quiet spot to prostrate myself before the
Lord and to ask Him to show me whether these people were right or wrong in
what they were saying about Toronto. I didn't want them to be right, but
at the same time I knew I needed to come into truth - Biblical truth -
about the matter. I never thought to look at the Scripture references
these ministers gave and check them for myself.

The following day, I had the day off work anyway, and decided I would go
to ClaphamJunction to do some shopping. I was going down Lavender Hill,
when I noticed a Christian bookshop called Cornerstone.

I went in and immediately noticed a section of books on Toronto -
unusually, books WARNING against it, not promoting it! One particular
booklet, entitled "No Laughing Matter" by Stanley Jebb, particularly
caught my eye. I picked it up, and began to look through it.

At that point, the proprietress of the bookshop came over and asked if she
could help me. I asked her about the booklet, and she said she could
really recommend it, as it went into great detail, with relevant Scripture
references provided, to point out the dangers of the Toronto Experience.

I told the proprietress that I had been heavily involved in Toronto, and
that I was trying to discover the truth of the matter as it seemed it
might be different from what I had been led to believe. As difficult as it
might be, I told this lady, I was duty-bound to find GOD'S truth on the
issue. The proprietress urged me to take away the booklet and to look up
the Scripture references therein for myself. Meanwhile, she told me, she
would pray for me, and ask the Lord to bring me into truth.

The next day was the day my church's Intercession Group met. The four of
us in the group met as usual, and began to bring our church, its leaders,
ongoing issues etc. before the Lord, and to seek His face.

After a break in prayer, the Pastoral Worker at the church said that the
leadership of the church were considering sending our vicar to Toronto,
and were going to bring it up at the next meeting of the PCC. The PCC
meeting was a few days later.

I could not keep quiet, and told the others that I was having second
thoughts about Toronto, and that perhaps we should therefore reconsider
the decision to send our vicar to Toronto. I then showed the other members
of the group the materials I had been sent.

With one exception, my suggestion was met with derision and scorn. "Who
DID these people think they were?" they said. "How DARE they criticise a
mighty move of God!" And I was just as bad for even CONSIDERING that they
could be right!

We continued to pray, but I found it very difficult, as I no longer felt I
was of one mind with the others in the group, and that we were praying at
cross-purposes. Nevertheless, I soldiered on. It was then that the Lord
gave me a picture of a broken down stone wall of the sort that are common
in Derbyshire and the Peak District.

I brought this picture before the group and we asked the Lord what it
meant. However, He seemed to be saying that He would show us later, so we
left it there and continued to pray.

Upon returning home, I found that the postman had been and that I had
received David Noakes' tape. David had been to Toronto in October 1994 to
experience what was happening there and to report his findings, and this
was the tape recording what he had found there. I settled down to listen
to it.

As David shared, I began to realise, through a witness in my spirit, that
this was indeed the truth of the matter, and that Toronto was indeed a
delusion and a deception. As David gave Scriptural references to back up
what he was saying, I checked them for myself and found them to be true.
(Up until this point, I had never checked the Toronto experience with the
Word - rather, I had just yielded myself up to it and had chased one new
experience after another).

Then a phrase that David used caught my attention. "The walls of scripture
are being broken down", he said.* Immediately, the picture of the broken
down stone wall came back to my mind, and I knew instantly that this was
that to which it referred. The Toronto proponents were taking Scripture
out of context and were making it fit the phenomena, instead of rightly
testing it against the Word.

David went on to say that, in his experience, anyone caught up in Toronto
inevitably needed ministry because of the strong, very dark spirits behind
it. I was very perturbed, and after praying, I wrote to David Noakes
explaining the fact that I had been heavily involved in Toronto, but now
come out of it, and asking him to pray for me.

Meanwhile, I had returned to Cornerstone, the Christian bookshop in
Clapham Junction, where Ulrike, the proprietess, suggested I have ministry
to cut me free from the Toronto spirit. I told her that I had written to
David Noakes, whom she knew, asking him if he might minister to me and
that I was awaiting his reply. She told me that she knew someone who would
minister to me if I did not want to wait to see David.

As the days went by, I became increasingly friendly with Ulrike and her
husband Brian, who owned and ran "Cornerstone". Ulrike took me under her
wing, and, like a mother of Israel, began to lead me in the way of truth
concerning not only Toronto, but other false teachings as well. She also
introduced me to "Intercessors for Britain", under whose auspices at the
time that I began to attend the Ladies' Prayer and Bible Days which were
then at Westminster Chapel and led by Pat Hughes, Patricia Gordon and Gay
Hyde.

On my second visit to the Ladies' Prayer and Bible Days meeting, I was
chatting to Ulrike during the lunch break when Patricia Gordon came over
to us. Ulrike introduced me to Patricia, and told her about my involvement
with Toronto. Patricia then asked if I had had ministry to set me free. I
told Patricia that I was awaiting ministry with David Noakes, but she
lovingly but very firmly assured me that there was no time like the
present, and that she, Pat Hughes and Gay Hyde would minister to me after
the meeting. She went on to add that David Noakes, whom she knew and
regarded very highly, would not mind at all, saying that the Lord had
provided the opportunity for me to have ministry and that I should
therefore make the most of it.

Before ministry began, Pat and Gay asked me some very searching questions
such as, what had Toronto done for me, what good had come from it and
whether, as many claimed they did, I had a greater hunger for God's word.

Their penetrating, but nevertheless very necessary, questions made me
realise that in fact the very opposite was true. Instead of having a
greater hunger for God's Word, I actually found it very difficult to pray,
much less open my Bible. I honestly had not been aware of this until these
three dear and very Godly ladies confronted me with it, so caught up had I
been in chasing various spiritual experiences.

The three ladies first of all led me in a prayer of repentance after
which, my having renounced my involvement with Toronto, proceeded to cut
me free from the Toronto spirit. As they did so, I can only describe what
then occurred as a heaviness going, a feeling of a large and very heavy
blanket being lifted and a fog dispersing. It was as though I could see
clearly again!

Later on, I did see David Noakes for ministry as the Lord had showed me
that for me, Toronto was just the tip of the iceberg. Previous to becoming
embroiled and entangled with Toronto, I had been involved in other false
teaching and deceptive practices such as Restorationism and Name It and
Claim It and realised I needed ministry in order to be released from the
detrimental effects of these teachings. I saw David Noakes and his prayer
partner in January 1996, and in the ministry that followed, I was
wonderfully and gloriously cut free from the roots of all the deceptive
practices and teachings I had taken on board in the past.

Since coming into the truth concerning Toronto and my subsequent ministry,
I have had such a desire to walk in truth and holiness before the Lord,
and to set no unclean thing before me. Nothing less than this will do.
Since then there has always a "check" in my when something is not of God,
even though there are occasions when I cannot find the reasons why in my
Bible.

The Lord has also made it very clear to me that, having come into truth
and having been set free (Gal. 5:1) that I am no longer to go to churches
or associate myself with ministries where Toronto and indeed other false
teachings, are promoted and accepted. This has meant that I have had to
leave my previous church where I had worshipped for seven and a half
years. Toronto was in evidence there, as well as other false teachings
such as Replacement and Dominion theology to name but two.

I thank God that, in the midst of this, He promised me that He had
"prepared a place for me, a place where I would continue to be nurtured
and fed and where the things that were now dear to my heart were practiced
and taught." In June 1996, he led me to this place, a little independent
chapel in nw London where the teaching is sound, the ministry balanced and
without excesses and where I received a warm welcome and became part of a
close-knit church family. I AM used of the Lord there, but not in any of
the supposed "anointings" I received when I was caught up in Toronto. I
got nothing from these "anointings", despite all their promises of
equipping for ministry. Instead, I still have the gifts I have always had
since being baptised in the Holy Spirit.

Sally Richardson June 2006


11 years on, and I am still at the same independent fellowship that the
Lord led me to in 1996. It is a precious little fellowship where the
things of God are faithfully taught and where the truth of Scripture is
paramount. I am reminded that it was at Shavuot (Pentecost) 11 years ago
that I first attended a service at this little church, and it was Shavuot
last weekend. I owe so very much to the Lord, and am grateful too for
those dear folk who prayed for me and helped me to come out of deception.
Sadly, although our church has been extremely careful to uphold Biblical
practice and teaching, much of the church has not, and in the last 11
years, I have seen error and deception proliferate and multiply.

The Lord has spoken to me much out of Ezekiel 13. Read it for yourself
and you will see how relevant and pertinent it is to the situation in much
of the Church in these days. When I look at verse 5, which reads YOU HAVE
NOT GONE INTO THE GAPS OR BREECHES, NOR BUILT UP THE WALL (FOR THE HOUSE  OF ISRAEL - parantheses mine) THAT IT MIGHT STAND IN THE BATTLE OF THE DAY  OF THE LORD, it reminds me of David Noakes' warning on that tape I  listened to all those years ago where he said that the walls of Scripture
were being broken down.* Much of the church is in ruins because of false
teaching, false prophecies and deceptive practices, and yet they seem
unaware of their wretched state. People tell me that Toronto is over, but
it has surely left its legacy. So too, will the latest fads and teachings
that many are so taken with, the latest being Purpose Driven.

I can only pray for those caught up in false teaching and deception and
especially pray that He might open their eyes and bring them out as He
brought me out. Will you join me?

Sally Richardson
richardsonsally4@hotmail.com
07867 793253

 

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