Few events in recent church history have drawn as much national and international attention as the Lakeland Outpouring, May-August 2008, led by evangelist Todd Bentley and his Fresh Fire Ministries team. A key factor contributing to this unusual phenomenon has been the decision of Rory and Wendy Alec to use GOD TV to televise the revival meetings internationally.
As would be expected, true to the history of revivals, a powerful move of God like this inevitably draws serious attacks from the enemy and his forces of darkness. One outcome is a range of reactions to the phenomenon from those who focus on the hand of God in the ministry to those who focus on the damage that the enemy is doing.
Because of the unprecedented number of people who have been affected one way or another by Lakeland and because of instant communication through technology, opinions and points of view easily become public domain, and the body of Christ can readily become polarized, which, of course, would be a victory for the enemy.
Unfortunately, in the case of Lakeland, the enemy has been succeeding, more than he should, in producing widespread confusion and even chaos throughout large segments of the body of Christ.
Throughout the early weeks of the Outpouring I watched it from time to time on TV, I followed the news items and rejoiced at what God was doing in Lakeland, but the matter was located toward the bottom of my priority scale. I also became aware of a rising number of criticisms and concerns about what was going on there, but I had very little interest in absorbing or analyzing them. This changed when I received a telephone call from Apostle Stephen Strader, pastor of Ignited Church, and host of the Lakeland Outpouring. Stephen called me as the presiding apostle of the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA) of which he was a member. From firsthand observation he described both the blessings and harsh opposition that they had begun to experience. Then he said, "Where are the apostles?"
I believe the Holy Spirit spoke to me at that moment and said words to the effect, "Peter, you will need to answer that question." As I have written in my books, one of the roles of an apostle is to set things in order and another is to assure that the body of Christ is operating on the basis of sound, biblical doctrine.
There was no question about the need-disorder reigned, and many of the Lakeland doctrines as well as practices were being called into question on an international scope. I believe that I was given a divine assignment that I hadn't even desired, namely to attempt to bring some kind of apostolic order to this widespread and potentially damaging confusion.
While I was talking to Stephen, God kept bringing the word "alignment" to the front of my mind, so I questioned him on Todd Bentley's apostolic alignment. The upshot was that Todd believed in apostles and prophets, but he had never entered into a formal alignment. I did some more investigation over the next couple of days, and I was assured that this was indeed the case.
As the picture developed, there were two pressing needs. One was to facilitate apostolic alignment for Todd and the other was to deal responsibly with the doctrinal and ministry style issues being discussed. Then the question became, Which should come first? Meanwhile I had been discussing these things with several friends, all of whom were also members of ICA and whose opinion I highly respected. I immediately discovered to my surprise that many of my friends had formed highly charged and emotionally intense opinions. Some were advising me not to go to Lakeland to promote a formal alignment until the doctrinal issues first had been resolved. Others took the opposite position. I carefully considered what they said and weighed the pros and cons as best I could.
My thinking was that I did not want to deal with doctrinal issues with any one but fellow apostles. I had recently attempted a similar process that had to do with a certain prophet, and I had failed in accomplishing my goal of bringing about a reconciliation of opposing parties. I felt that one of my mistakes had been attempting to deal directly with a prophet who was not aligned with me instead of dealing with an apostle with whom this person was in fact aligned. I certainly knew that I did not want to attempt to work directly with an evangelist such as Todd Bentley, especially one whom I had never met.
If Todd was not apostolically aligned, this alignment needed to be formalized before I was prepared to go any further. I am well aware that some friends thought I should have stopped right there and pulled out. Perhaps I should have, but I felt that I would be disobeying the word from the Holy Spirit if I did. Some of my friends have not yet forgiven me for not taking their advice, and, who knows? Someday they might be telling me, "I told you so!"
Regardless, I knew that alignment needed to come first. Chuck Pierce, with whom I am closely aligned prophetically, wholeheartedly agreed. I did my due diligence and discovered that Ché Ahn was the ICA member who had the closest contact with Todd, and that Todd was willing to accept this alignment. Ché felt that he should bring in Bill Johnson and John Arnott since all three of them were close to Todd and they lead the newly formed Revival Alliance. Unbelievably, all four of us had one date in common open all summer—Monday, June 23—so we decided that we would propose it to Todd. He enthusiastically agreed and invited us to come.