It's a phenomenon making headlines both inside and outside the Church.
Some call it a laughing renewal. Others call it strange. But all agree
that it has already extended to at least three continents and shows
no signs of waning. "We've reported about an extraordinary phenomenon
rippling across various parts of the world," says Larry Pierce of the
National International Religion Report. "It involves people during
church services laughing, breaking out in laughter, shaking and then
also weeping and repenting, and they sometimes fall to the floor."
The physical manifestation noted more than others is laughing. For
that reason, this renewal has often been referred to as the "laughing
revival." It happened in Alaska three years ago. In 1993, this experience
was repeated in Argentina and at Carpenter's Home Church in Lakeland,
Florida, where a one-week series of meetings extended to 10 weeks and
thousands were saved.
This phenomenon of laughter and other manifestations has been associated
with some ministers like Cindy Jacobs and Mahesh Chavda. But most well
known is the ministry of Rodney Howard Browne. His meetings were the
catalyst for the experiences in Florida and Alaska.
Some have criticized Browne's ministry, saying these manifestations
are a result of emotionalism and peer pressure. But Browne says his
ministry should be judged by the fruit of changed lives. "It's having
God change us and really asking God to forgive us," he says. "And just
saying, Lord, I'm so hungry, change me, touch me, do whatever You want
to do with me."
Canada is also experiencing this renewal. Since January 20, 1994, Airport
Christian Fellowship, a small Vineyard church in Toronto, has had services
six nights a week for the last 10 months that have sometimes lasted
until 2:00 a.m. Over 100,000 people have attended, and nearly 40,000
of those have been visitors from all over the world who come for what
is being called the "Toronto Blessing."
This Spring, the "Toronto Blessing"hit the Holy Trinity Church in London,
one of the largest Anglican churches in England, and England's Stoneleigh
Bible Camp, an annual event sponsored by "New Frontiers" ministry which
oversees 100 churches in England and around the world. "It's not confined
to any one denomination or any one person,"says Sandy Miller, Vicar
of Holy Trinity. "Quite the reverse. It's happening across the board-free
churches, house churches, Church of England, established churches, all
over the place."
How should the church respond? "Test the spirits and submit to godly
counsel in order to keep this new revival balanced," says Charisma editor,
Steven Strang. "On the other hand, we need to be aware that significant
changes seem to be taking place when the joy of the Lord touches <."
No matter the opinions, the laughing renewal seems to be spreading.
Of the 27 nations represented at Stoneleigh, there are already reports
of this phenomenon happening in Russia, Africa and India.
Pat Robertson Responds
"The power of the supernatural is so much greater than human flesh,
that human flesh has a tendency to just fall. What this says to me is
that revival is taking place in the world in a mass wave,and we look
to the coming of the Lord. I think this is a very encouraging sign.
In the middle of all this trouble, God is saying He's on the throne
and He's going to touch multiplied millions of people."
Standards To Live By
"In Thy presence is fullness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures
forever." Psalm 16:11
"And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to
one another, 'What does this mean?' But others were mocking and saying,
'They are full of sweet wine.' Acts 2:12-13
"When therefore He said to them, 'I am He,' they drew back, and fell
to the ground." John 18:6
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Broadcasting Network. Air Date: October 27, 1994 (G300)
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