A couple of weeks ago I was in Canada with two friends for a four day conference at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, the church behind what came to be known as the ‘Toronto Blessing’.
Although one of my friends, Dave, is a church leader who has been six times before, this was my first trip to TACF, coming, as it did, at a strangely appropriate time when my diary seemed miraculously to be clear. I had engagements the day before going and on the evening of my return – amazing! Before the conference started Dave took us to the Niagara Falls on a brilliantly sunny day. Although the falls are spectacular, the city is rather tacky!
In essence the conference was simply about developing a closer relationship with God, the outcome, or overflow, from which will touch a needy world. There were some amazing stories of God at work through the lives of a number of the delegates – Muslims becoming Christians on a Toronto bus journey; young women being saved (in every sense of the word) out of a life of prostitution in Africa; people being healed in the most spectacular and hype-free way. Although I might have wished for some amazing revelation from God, the lasting impression is of a renewed confidence in God and the challenge to keep on pursuing intimacy with Him. Jesus so often spoke about the spiritually hungry and thirsty – I was left wondering just how hungry or thirsty we are / I am.
Pete Rollins, in How (not) to speak of God writes:
One experience in particular seized me and created something of a defining moment. During the Saturday afternoon session I looked to my left and saw someone who was the absolute identical twin of my dad, right down to his style of clothes, his glasses and his mannerisms. It was a completely captivating moment – I had to keep checking to be sure. But in that moment I knew for certain that I had no unresolved issues with my dad, who died in Nov 2003; there was nothing in my relationship with my father that could in any way be hindering my relationship with my heavenly Father. My dad’s double was only there for that one session – he’d gone again by the evening.
On the Sunday we drove to see friends of Dave’s near Ottawa who lead a church that is fast outgrowing their house, where they meet, and may soon be more publicly present in the nearby town. Then on Monday a night flight home to Gatwick, arriving Tuesday morning with a lunchtime meeting in a school (booking another week of Sanctum) and a Trustees meeting in the evening. Is that what they call a heavy landing?!