Our Canadian charlatan, who headed to the US, made a small fortune and created a multi-media buzz in neo-charismatic services is separating from his wife and kids. He has not been able to draw the numbers, the money and do the hoodwinking in Canada and the UK, and started his Lakeland revival back in April, partnering with whomever wanted a cut. It was announced he had bought property in Polk County. Now the Bentley’s marriage has crumbled. Lakeland Ledger:
Bentley and his wife, Shonnah, have two daughters and a son and are Canadian citizens. Under Canadian law, separation is a first step in divorce proceedings and takes nine months. Bentley and his wife have been in marriage counseling for several months, Breidenbach said. She called the situation “very sad” but insisted it “doesn’t invalidate what Todd did” at the revival.
Breidenbach, who said her contract with Bentley’s Fresh Fire ended today, said it is not clear whether Bentley will make further appearances at the revival. About two weeks ago, Bentley announced he would leave the revival on Aug. 23 in order to resume his traveling evangelistic work. The Fresh Fire Ministries Web site indicates that a September appearance by Bentley in England has been postponed.
(full Lakeland Ledger article here) Fresh Fire Ministries bought the Florida empty ( update: maybe not empty, see comments) lot the end of July.
In all the bizarre goings on, one of the things that struck me was the pain in the background in the knighting/commissioning tape. We catch a brief glimpse of a few of the wives of these self proclaimed prophets. It’s heart-breaking. Peter Wagner’s wife can been seen briefly in a motorized wheelchair. James Goll’s wife has cancer. Shonnah Bentley is in obvious pain and looking deeply distressed. (This is the last few minutes of the hastily called commissioning by men who lead thousands and thousands of sincere hurting seeking people astray).
More of the knighting ceremony is here. For those that have followed Bentley’s rise and fall, you know the history. From the start Christians across the US, Australia, New Zealand and the UK began to question the theology and behavior coming from Lakeland. They were dismissed as heresy hunters until Pentecostals and charismatics also began to speak up. The unwillingness of Fresh Fire, Ignited (Lakeland) and God TV to be transparent, to address extra-biblical teaching escalated and Bentley wound up on a US network investigative show. It was his second (he’d brushed off Fox News) and Bentley took off.
While the PR machine in New York and GodTV tried to keep the buzz going, the very mediums used to start it were where insiders began to publicly back away. Charisma magazine’s Lee Grady, Robert Ricciardelli, a Member of Peter Wagnerâ€™s International Coalition of Apostles spoke on Salem Radio a US religious chain. The Assemblies of God in the US spoke up. The Lakeland tent folded and more human dominoes began to fall. The sham of unity crumbled, and now some of the leaders such as Peter Wagner who appeared in the knighting ceremony are backing away as publicly as they endorsed Lakeland.
We reap what we sow, we serve a holy God who will not be mocked. Satan can’t be blamed. Other’s can’t be blamed, no spin heals the wounded, and God’s love calls us to remember the lessons of history and immature leadership. There are no shortcuts, faith is not bling. Wisdom must be sought, it is not handed to us. We work out our salvation with awe and trembling. PR firms, business models, media platforms do not hide the lies of our life when we face the cross.
Would an unstable Canadian with a fractured marriage cause such a tumbling and upheaval again?
I think a great deal more has gone on behind the scenes that has not been made public.
These movements are cults of personality, existing for profit and for power. I continue to hope and pray the days of charlatans being taken at face value and controlling their message in media for long periods of time is over.
As fast as self proclaimed leaders con, there are people willing to step forward, and offer the standards of measurement believers hold to. I see no glee, no schadenfreude from those who Lakeland leaders mocked as ‘heresy hunters’.
There are more Todd Bentley’s waiting in the wings, the roots of these movements are rotten to their core, and we reap what we sow. Bentley’s show helped GodTV get out of temporary debt, I believe Lakeland’s ‘revival’ was calculated, planned, the Strader family are no strangers to raising money.
Few are surprised by the broken people left behind.
Wagner’s statement fisked
Update: August 14, 2008. British Columbia newspaper, The Province is being shut out again.
Update: Fresh Fire Ministries has announced the Bentleys have separated. The original announcement from the US said Todd had filed. In BC a filing starts proceedings and an uncontested divorce takes a year when there is intentional separation.
British Columbia family law allows for sole application or joint application, and of course gets more complicated when mediation or ruling is required over property, custody, etc., or if a filing is made on the grounds of adultery or mental and physical cruelty.
This ‘official’ announcement is more ambigous than the one made in the US.
You’ll have to skim through the sales pitch first.
Greetings Partners and Friends,
The last four months have been some of the most amazing months in the history of Fresh Fire Ministries. We have witnessed God pour out His Spirit in an unprecedented way in Florida and around the world in the first revival in history to be broadcasted live into literally millions of homes and churches across all five continents and into more than 200 countries. The â€œOutpouringsâ€ as they have come to be called are continuing now in many cities worldwide. These fiery hot coals of revival are sweeping through the Body of Christ, crossing geographical, political and denominational boundaries as the Holy Spirit brings the manifest presence of the glory of God back to His church with tangible demonstrations of his saving, healing, delivering power.
As a result, we as a ministry have experienced the blessing and the burden of exponential increases of activity and interest in our activities, functions and resources. Our website during the last few months has received as many as 6 million hits in one month and our office has struggled to cope with numberless phone calls and emails which have taxed our infrastructure and human resources almost to the breaking point. We so appreciate the patience and grace many of you have extended to us during this time, whether waiting for us to answer the phone or process your donation or product order. To overcome this challenge, we have hired more than a dozen new staff in our home base here in Abbotsford in addition to the many staff temporarily hired to help with the administration of the Outpouring in Lakeland, Florida.
The Lordâ€™s blessings and abundance have been so evident on the ministry during this season of intense activity and we rejoice in seeing and being able to participate in what we believe is only the beginning of a worldwide awakening. It is with considerable sadness then, that we must temper the jubilation we know you all feel with the sobering news that Todd and Shonnah Bentley are presently experiencing significant friction in their relationship and are currently separated. We want to affirm that there has been no sexual immorality on the part of either Todd or Shonnah, nor has there ever been. Undoubtedly the pressures and the burden of the Outpouring, which approaches 144 days on August 23rd, have helped to create an atmosphere of fatigue and stress that has exacerbated existing issues in their relationship. We wish to stress however, that the Outpouring is not â€œto blameâ€ for the current chain of events and that in effect we have no interest in blaming anyone, but rather we deeply covet your prayers for Todd and Shonnah and for Fresh Fire Ministries during this time.
We know that many of you will have questions, for most of which we presently have no answers. We cannot see far down the path ahead of us, but we have quiet confidence in the One who sees the end from the beginning and promises to provide grace and strength for whatever lies ahead. We are hopeful that the outcome will include restoration, but we can make neither promise nor guarantee. We intend to take each day as it comes and look intently for the new mercies promised us each morning. We will watch and pray and ask each of you to do the same, knowing that you will pray as you are led by the Holy Spirit.
In the meantime, we encourage you to continue to participate in current Outpourings, whether the Florida Outpouring or one in your area and region, â€¦or to become one if there are none nearby. As a ministry, we continue to encourage and facilitate these growing Global Outpourings, providing Fresh Fire Associate ministries, resources, and input wherever needed.
We are still fully committed to our crusade in Uganda, Africa later this month, and though Todd will not be in attendance, our Fresh Fire Team and Associate Ministries will lead a team of almost one hundred people from around the world to share the love of God, the power of the gospel, and humanitarian aid with the people of Uganda. While there, we will also connect with the Uganda Jesus Village, the Fresh Fire Childrenâ€™s Home where we shelter and provide for over 60 orphans rescued from war and poverty only a few years ago. Weâ€™re excited about seeing the recently purchased 35-acre property that will contain both a school and homes for the children and their â€œmamas.â€ As we step inside the first home (being completed as we arrive) we will be stepping towards our dream of not only protecting and nurturing hundreds of orphans, but raising them up to become full-fledged ambassadors of Christ to the nation of Africa and beyond.
With all of this in mind, we ask each of you to continue to pray with us, both for Todd and Shonnah and for this ministry, as we continue to bring the saving, healing, and delivering power of God to a dry and thirsty world, desperate for an encounter with the endless love of the living God.
We thank you again for your many prayers and support and we truly believe the promise of the Lord that He will indeed work all things together for our good.
With our sincerest blessings and gratitude,
The Fresh Fire Ministries Board of Directors
It is with great regret that we as Founders and our Board call you to urgent prayer.
As you may have already heard, Todd and Shonnah Bentley are experiencing some current marital difficulties and have separated.
GOD TV is anxious that our viewers and partners will first of all respond to these unfortunate circumstances with an attitude of Christ-like maturity and pray fervently for Todd, Shonnah and their children as a family who are precious to the Lord. While we have learned today that immorality was not an issue, no doubt the enemy has exploited vulnerabilities in their marriage.
What the devil has not counted on is the Christ-like maturity and intercession that is currently being raised up all across the earth in response. We hope you will join us as a part of this prayer covering.
It is GOD TV’s position that marriage is a foundational cornerstone to those families called to ministry and would believe that those who have spiritual oversight for Todd and Shonnah’s ministry will recommend a time of sabbatical for the family in order to seek reconciliation within their marriage should these reports be accurate.
As many of you know, August 8th was our final â€˜Lakelandâ€™ broadcast. We do however, believe that it is important to recognize and defend the authenticity of this outpouring by the testimonies of the countless thousands who viewed on GOD TV or attended at Lakeland and were healed, set free and delivered through Jesus Christ. There are many churches around the UK, USA and the world who are currently holding nightly revival meetings affecting whole communities.
Once again at this time may we encourage all to pray for the family and soberly remember that all of us will be required to give account to the Lord for our lives. It is our earnest prayer that Todd and Shonnah will be fully reconciled.
Rory & Wendy Alec,
and the Board of GOD TV.