Lakeland Leader, Wife Separating

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Evangelist Todd Bentley, who has led nonstop revival meetings in Lakeland since early April, is separating from his wife, Shonnah, due to "significant friction in their relationship," his ministry announced Tuesday.

As a result, Bentley will no longer lead the Florida revival beginning August 23.

Canada-based Fresh Fire Ministries released a statement praising the Lakeland "outpouring," but acknowledged the ongoing revival created "an atmosphere of fatigue and stress" which "exacerbated existing issues" in Bentley's marriage. Fresh Fire emphasized the separation was not due to infidelity.

Stephen Strader, senior pastor at Ignited Church where the revival first began, told Charisma the separation was for "a period of time while they both continue to receive counseling."

According to Strader, Bentley already turned over the spiritual authority of the meetings to him last Wednesday. Bentley's official departure will occur during this Wednesday night's meeting in Lakeland, when Bentley is scheduled to thank the crowd, while also "commissioning his interns" to continue the revival, Strader said.

Strader invited Bentley to Lakeland to lead the revival, which began on April 2.

The services were streamed live over the Internet and televised by God TV. Many traveled to Lakeland from outside Florida and the United States to receive a healing touch from God.

The revival changed location three times in search of larger venues, but has now returned to Ignited Church.

Lynne Breidenbach, who had been a spokesman for Bentley in Florida, resigned Monday and called news of the separation "very sad."

"God uses fallen, flawed people. ... This doesn't invalidate what Todd did," she told The Lakeland Ledger.

The Bentleys have two daughters and a son, and are Canadian citizens. Under Canadian law, separation is a preliminary step in divorce proceedings, lasting nine months.

Source: CBN News, The Lakeland Ledger, Charisma Magazine, Fresh Fire Ministries

*Original broadcast August 13, 2008.

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