banner top

Go Home

Visit to Sunderland Christian Centre:
A Toronto Experience

Testimony of Roger Shinn, Newcastle, UK, March 1995

Having read and heard numerous account relating to the latest spiritual virus to hit the Church, commonly referred to as the Toronto Blessing, I reluctantly decided to visit the building where this phenomena is currently in evidence. Sunderland Christian Centre (Pastor Ken Gott.) (NB: this is one of the foremost TE centres of the UK).

Taking advantage of the cafe facilities in what is a pleasant, spacious and fairly modern building, we came across our former Pastor from Newcastle, who at this point in the proceedings was friendly and courteous. He however made it abundantly clear his endorsement of the TB. Moving to the bright and spacious auditorium, we encountered a number of former friends and acquaintances from our "Bethshan" days, who now enthusiastically embraced this phenomena and travel regularly, rather than attend our former church, to Sunderland which it has to be said in most cases sadly did not surprise me as these same individuals for years seemed to be into this or that latest fad from over the pond.

Having chosen a suitable vantage point at the rear of one of the wings of the building, we settled back to simply observe and commit to paper that particular evening's events.

Superficial observation again drew my attention to the sight, also seen on our entrance into the car park, of pseudo masculine-feminist types with shorn hair-styles, earrings, studded noses and big boots. Were it not for the religious overtones of this event, the couple smooching in front of us and knocking back cans of drink, the clap-happy choruses, outbursts of laughter and so forth could have led to think we had arrived by mistake in the local bingo-hall or the back row of the Movies. At this stage I turned to my companion and said "what on earth are we doing here?"

The band leader, between inane choruses, encouraged us to "receive" whilst doubling up and making short grunting noises at virtually every sentence, as indeed did other members of the audience. The majority were laughing and thinking it a huge joke.

We were also urged to ignore these strange visible and audible manifestations and to "throw off constraint". "It is catching!" was Pastor Ken Gott's appropriate remark, whilst he too doubled up groaning as one with birthpangs.

Great emphasis was placed upon wording such as "River of God, sets our feet a dancing, fills our mouths with laughter" and "We rejoice that the river is here". "Drink the new wine" was sung in prophecy by a band member.

Strange wafting of hands by those around us broke out, and a form of backwards breaststroke - "swimming in the Spirit??" Twitching, doubling up, swaying and so forth was evidenced throughout the audience. Significant comments from Pastor Gott were: "We have come too far, we can't go back" and "The world loves this" and "God is into parties".

By this time in the proceedings, my impression was one of sickly, sloppy sentimental love, a vague and abstract with nothing of substance, and more importantly, nothing from God's word. Indeed, nothing more than a spiritual knees-up.

The overhead projector proclaimed that only those authorised with badges could pray or minister. Again we were urged from the platform to "receive" and "discern from down here" pointing to the stomach.

We were then introduced to a Mr. Ian Andrews, the minister for the evening. He began by telling us that things and ministries, once considered "way-out" were and are now acceptable. He gave no scriptural reason for this.

We were then informed that whilst preaching one day, a twelve-foot-six angel manifested itself to Mr Andrews and before his congregation, who were invited to touch this being. Whilst I do accept the existence of angelic beings, satanic ones as well as Godly, casually prodding one would not rate highly on my list of things to do.

However, Mr Andrews invitation to the angel that he accompany him to his next preaching engagement, by being invited to step into his suitcase was, I am afraid, more than I could take. Before I knew it, I was making some form of exclamation. This would later bring me into conflict with the man we had met upon entry. Our two lovebirds seated in front of us informed on me.

To cut a long story short, Mr Andrews was involved in what normally would have been a fatal accident whilst on the way to Heathrow Airport. He is pulled out of the wreckage by invisible hands, none the worse for this amazing escape. The Chief Fire Officer attending the scene is asked to retrieve his suitcase from the mangled wreckage, which itself is bent and twisted. The suitcase, however, miraculously resumes shape as "the angel flexes its wings". We are then informed that angels are our servants (Oh really? I always thought they are God's servants.) Thank God they do work on our behalf, however - at HIS bidding, not ours.

Concluding his talk, we were further encouraged to "yield and relax", and for us to "flow into Him". "The Lord wants to put his arms around you and kiss you on the lips" and "The Spirit wants to come like liquid rain and like love-drops". At this point I simply wanted to throw up. Again, I did not endear myself to the people round about me.

Now for the "ministry time" of the evening. This began by clearing the decks. Chairs were moved to the walls. Then the designated teams wandered around zapping the majority of people. We were approached by graciously declined to receive. When they ran out of targets, they turned upon themselves and eachother, this happening directly in front of us. before long the Hall resembled a battlefield, bodies lying everywhere, laughing, twitching, convulsing - and the teams wafting their arms over them.

Before too long however, a large number of individuals began sitting up from the floor, looking around them bemused and bewildered, as if to say "What's next?" It was at that point that my indignation and dismay gave way to pity for these poor deceived and deluded people. May God have mercy on us!

We decided at this point that we had seen and heard enough, and although the "ministry" was still in progress at ten o' clock, we made for the exit.

Had we, as intended, left there and then, I would have concluded that the evening's events were of no real substance, and at best a reflection of today's miserable plight of the so-called evangelical churches, and at worst, mass hysteria and simply a case of the lunatics taking over the asylum.

Whilst engaged in personal conversation in the foyer of the building, prior to leaving, I noticed the former Pastor of mine steaming towards me at a rate of knots, and without warning or excuse grabbed me by the arm and pushed me to one side. What the man I was speaking to thought of this gross discourtesy God alone knows, because he made a rapid withdrawal, being a part of this particular set-up.

Apparently our lovebirds had informed the thought-police (so much for all the lovey-dovey appearances!). The Pastor ripped into me with dire warnings and admonitions as to our opposing this "move of God etc etc". It was at this point, whilst on the ropes, that I finally got to pose a question that has been eating me for years. Namely why this supposed "man of God", our former Pastor, had sold his Church (In the mid-seventies the largest evangelical pentecostal church in the North East of England) to a heathen eastern sect.

This question I could see temporarily threw him, and he made the lame excuse that the church could possibly be branded racist otherwise. (All this happened long before the politically correct lunies took over our society).

Having been warned never to enter the premises again, something I was glad to agree to, we left - shaken and dazed by the final events of that night.

However, God used this to show up the demonic spirit behind the superficial facade of "blessing" and "love".

Sadly, a short time after our visit, the Elim church I had been attending also caught the virus. I approached the Pastor with what I believed to be a passage of scripture that related not only to the strange events taking place in so many churches today, but also the falling away that Jesus and scripture forewarns us about in 2 Thess 2 .

The Pastor's reply on being shown this scripture was that he would not allow it to be read, weighed or tested (as indicated by God's word). Rather he said "Does it fit in with that is happening here tonight?" - ie, people falling down and laughing, etc. (NB: again, scripture is tested by experiences, not the other way around!)

I have now left that church, and am now pursuing our Jewish roots and origins, being involved with a local group of Messianic believers. Where will all this ultimately lead? God alone knows. However, I firmly believe we are in a situation sadly and tragically where our enemies shall be those of our own household, and that radical and painful measures are necessary to avert total catastrophe. May the Lord have mercy towards us in the midst of his judgements in these endtimes, where we now find ourselves preaching a different gospel, a different Jesus and a different spirit.