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Toronto Blessing: Testimony of Jill Barnes

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From: iicorxi@aol.com (IICor xi)
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Subject: Toronto Blessing Testimony
Date: 16 Jan 1996 00:19:02 -0500
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MY NAME is Jill Barnes, and this is my testimony of what happened to me through a "Toronto Blessing" meeting in August 1994. Two or three weeks before, a few people at our church got up and shared that they had been to a meeting during the week where people had been on the floor laughing their heads off - absolute chaos! Three people shared that they had cried because God had revealed things that were wrong in their lives that He wasn't happy with. Others shared how much they had laughed (these were the majority of the testimonies.) A couple of people said they had felt drunk; one wondered how he would get home, he felt so drunk, but he managed it.

After hearing about this, I said to my husband, "That wasn't fair. Nobody told us about this meeting!" I felt quite envious about them. But my husband Mike said, "Well, when you're not in the 'in crowd'..." We were not as involved in our church as we had been. because I had just given birth to our second child, Christopher, two years previously; I only went out every now and then in the evenings, because I was really tired. So we didn't know anything about this meeting.

Two or three weeks later there was a Canterbury camp. Most of our church had gone away to Stoneleigh Bible camp; the rest went to Canterbury. My friend Jacquie attended the Canterbury camp all week, and asked me if I wanted to go on Friday. She told me that on the Wednesday she had gone forward for prayer, fallen down, and shaken from head to toe. She shook and shook; even her teeth were chattering and she could not get them to stop. She had asked the Lord, "Is this You?" and felt that He said it was. I thought this was great at the time! Anyway, my husband didn't want to go, but I said I would go with Jacquie, her husband, and a few other people. So we all went.

The meetings were held in a big tent; there were lots of people from different churches who had come to it, mainly charismatic-type churches. The speaker preached on a song that says that "the earth will be filled with the glory of God." He said this was a misquote from the Bible, and spoke about what it really meant, although we never actually turned to this verse in the Bible (Habakkuk 2:14). He spoke about angels as well, that everyone had a certain number of angels assigned to him. I remember thinking that all those angels would never have fitted inside the tent: they'd have been on top of one another! I didn't think much of it. When he had finished speaking, he asked us if we wanted to go forward for prayer. I asked Jacquie if she would come with me, but she said, "No, I've already received the Blessing" But I told her I wouldn't go forward unless she came with me, because I didn't know many people there. So Jacquie agreed to come with me and pray for me, although there were already counsellors up front.

As it happened, however, Jacquie didn't pray for me. As soon as we reached the spot where people were prayed for, someone put their hand on Jacquie and she was on the floor, out of it. We were told not to tell anyone what to pray for, because they would just know. I didn't think this was a very good idea. I didn't go for that kind of thing where people would "just know" what to pray for, because many people seemed to say that God told them to do this, that or the other, but it doesn't work out (although they never admit it when it doesn't). So I thought, "No, I'm going to tell the lady what to pray for." However, at first I just stood there, and she had her hand over my head, and I thought, "I feel a little bit dizzy." The feeling wasn't very strong. But everyone else was falling around, and I desperately wanted to be touched by God. So in the end I just decided to "go with the flow" of this dizziness, and I let myself fall back. I felt this horrible, uncomfortable, heavy, oppressive feeling go all over my head and down my body. It felt two inches thick, and it also felt "buzzy," although I couldn't hear anything. I was totally conscious. My hands were clenched, like I was in the dentist's having a filling or my teeth cleaned (I can't stand the noise!). I had that uncomfortable feeling of "I want to go, I can't stand this." I kept trying to unlock my hands from each other. I wanted to relax, because I thought, "I shouldn't feel uncomfortable with God," but I couldn't relax or unlock my hands.

Then a couple of people fell on my legs, so I sat up. This lady said to me, "Just rest in the Spirit, rest in the Spirit." I said, "I want to tell you what to pray for." She replied, "Oh, don't worry, I'll get knowledge from the Lord." But I said, "No, I want to tell you, to make sure." So I told her thatI'd had many problems and wanted them to be healed. I explained that since giving birth to Christopher I hadn't been my normal self; I hadn't been able to witness as I had done previously, because I'd had so many phobias and fears that seemed to take over. So I lay back down, and the uncomfortable feeling started up again. The lady prayed that God would help me not to feel so guilty about not doing things for him, because I was the mother of two children and that was good enough for God.

After that, chaos broke out in the meeting. At the time I thought it was good, even though I didn't really enter into it, because I didn't feel that I was liberated enough spiritually. People grabbed hold of each other's waists, and danced around like that for at least twenty minutes; it was like "Get on the Jesus train!" Each time they came round, I just looked the other way. That's just not my sort of thing. It used to be when I was younger, in a disco, but I've never been able to do it in church. Then they changed the music into a more country and western style. Everyone was jumping up and down. Finally we all went home. The others felt really "blessed" by it all. I felt that I had met God, even though it felt uncomfortable; I just thought God had started to do something in my life, and it was uncomfortable because things were not right.

Two days later, on Sunday, I just opened the Bible up to see what I wanted to read, and it fell open at a passage about mediums and spiritualists. Straight away this heavy uncomfortable feeling came on me again - the same as at the Blessing meeting. I thought to myself, "Perhaps I have an ancestor who was a medium. Or perhaps it's because I listened to a hypnosis cassette a few times before I became a Christian. Or perhaps it's because I read an ESP book and became slightly psychic until I was converted and God took it away." So I thought at the time that the cause of this oppressive feeling might be something deep and hidden in my past. I closed my eyes and asked God to deal with it. It lasted about ten minutes and then went away. But I went to bed that night absolutely terrified. A few days later, all those problems that I'd wanted the lady counsellor to pray about in the Blessing meeting were worse; every difficulty I'd ever had was magnified a hundred-fold. I couldn't believe it. I thought, "I've asked for prayer, and here I am, and it's all worse." I couldn't bear it. So I decided I couldn't spend that day on my own; I had to go out so I didn't have to think about these problems.

I went to see Jacquie and shared with her how all the problems I'd wanted to be healed had got worse. She told me she had been given a ministry of removing oppressive spirits when she had shaken from head to toe at the Wednesday meeting. I asked her, "Do you think I've got an oppressive spirit?" "You might have," she replied. "Come back tonight when the children have gone to bed." So I went back that night. Jacquie's husband had gone out. She shared with me how God had healed her of various hurts, and how she had actually had to go back to her mother's womb, and how she had seen the room turn blood-red. I don't think now that this was of God, but at the time I was gullible. So I prayed that God would reveal to her if I had this oppressive spirit. Almost immediately, she had this heavy feeling of mine come upon her too, and she shouted out, "That's not God! That's not God! That is a spirit!" So we bound it and sent it to hell. We did it a number of times just to make sure. And then we prayed that God would now be able to use me and that I'd be released.

That night I went to bed absolutely terrified, frightened of the devil. When I woke up the next day, I didn't feel too bad to start off with, but by the evening I was hearing voices, saying to me, "Now you're free! Now You're free! Now you don't have any problems! You don't have to worry about anything! You're totally free! Everything's healed! No more problems! Now you're free!" And it went on and on. I thought, "Stop! Stop thinking it!" But I couldn't, and I realised it wasn't me. And then I heard voices telling me to kill myself, and blasphemous swear words about Jesus. After two hours of this, I wasn't actually tearing my hair out, but I felt like it. I knew if those voices continued, I would kill myself. It was absolutely awful. I went to bed but couldn't get to sleep for ages. When I finally fell asleep, I woke up two hours later to the sound of "Kill yourself! Kill yourself! Jesus isn't real! The Old Testament is real, but Jesus wasn't the Saviour! You've got to look again, find out where and who the Saviour really is!" I knew this wasn't true, but the voices continued all the time, together with blasphemous swear words against the Lord. I couldn't stand it. My only comfort was that I knew it wasn't me thinking these thoughts.

My pastor was away, so I phoned up the elder's wife and she said her husband would come with another man to see me in the evening to pray for me. I then went to see Jacquie, because I thought that if I had someone to talk to, it would take my mind off the voices. And this did quieten them to some extent, but not totally. But the afternoon I was beginning to feel a bit better, although the voices were still there. I walked down into town and saw Pam and Derek, some friends of mine. They instantly knew I wasn't well and asked what was wrong. I shared it with them. Derek said he didn't think all this (the Blessing) was of the Lord, and that I'd probably got some spirit now because of it! This was the first time anyone had ever said this to me. I said goodbye to Derek, and a minute later the voices didn't cease but they were so much less. Maybe I was thinking to myself that what Derek had said was true, I don't know. But I felt so much better. I went home.

In the evening Peter (the elder) and Stewart came, and they said what had happened was that Jacquie had cast out a spirit from me, but that (as the Bible says) the house had been swept clean and seven more wicked spirits had come and taken over the house (Matthew 12:43-45). They said that is what had happened to me. They also told me I hadn't been filled with the Holy Spirit. This confused me because I'd always believed that when I gave my heart to the Lord I was filled with the Holy Spirit. Indeed, I knew that for a fact, because I became a different person: I didn't think the same way, I didn't find people so annoying, I was convicted of sin more, I knew right from wrong more. I hadn't forgiven my parents for the way they had treated me as a child, and that was one thing God took away instantly at my conversion, that bitter thing that was in me. He enabled me to see my parents in a different way. So I always thought I had received the Holy Spirit when I became a Christian, because I was different.

Anyway, Peter told me to approach him and we all stood in a circle. He placed his hand a few inches above my head, and started praying for me to be filled with the Spirit. I felt a force coming from his hand, and I said to God, "Oh no! I don't want to have to fall down on the floor any more." So I prayed like mad and resisted it firmly, and it just went away - I didn't fall down. I was really glad.

The voices continued, although not as much. But I also started getting these horrible visions of Jesus; I don't want to go into the details, but the visions were sexual in nature. I'd just be walking down the road and this horrible picture would flash in front of my mind. But I knew it didn't come from me; it came from the devil. I also began to wake up in the middle of the night, and a horrible presence would come over my body. A couple of times it even happened to my little girl Claire, which really upset me.

Sometimes I'd go to Canterbury for the day, just go get away from everything. Every time I heard the voices I would simply sing to the Lord different choruses that I knew, and praise His name, praying to Him all the time. I didn't intend this in any magical way, but it would often work, and I knew that God was my source of help. I also devoted myself to the Word, reading the Bible five hours minimum and eight hours maximum. Previously I hadn't found the time to read it for ten or fifteen minutes a day. But now I just couldn't stop reading it. It became a real source of joy to me, not the laughing joy but the true joy. I just kept reading it and reading it. The more I read, the more sure I became that this Toronto Blessing was not of God. Jeremiah really spoke to me, especially ch.51:36-39. I became convinced that if I did have an oppressive spirit, it had come on me through the Toronto Blessing, but that God would get rid of it - it wasn't a permanent fixture. After three weeks of this, having become convinced that the Toronto Blessing was not of God, I wrote out thirty or forty Scripture verses about false prophets, wolves in sheeps' clothing, and so on, and gave them to my pastor. (When you've had a bad experience like this, these verses jump out at you from the New Testament!) He was nice, but he thought the Blessing was of God, and asked me not to come back to the church any more. He was quite upset because I'd also handed out copies of an article by Clifford Hill to other church members, in which Hill didn't positively condemn the Blessing but warned people to be wary and careful. My pastor told me that if ever I wanted to come back to his church I'd have to repent and tell everybody I was wrong and that the Blessing is of God. I said I couldn't do that, because I knew it wasn't of God. I'd already decided anyway that I was going to leave the church when he told me not to come back. He's been round to see us since, and we still love him, we believe he's a Christian, but we believe he's under a great deception, and we're praying like mad that God will do something about it.

Some of my friends from the charismatic church still come to see me, but our friendship isn't the same as it was. I can't really talk to them about anything to do with God, because they see God differently to how I do now. They think all these Toronto things are good, and I don't. And I did lose a lot of friends; people who used to drop in frequently never come to see me now. I don't feel rejected, but I was in fact rejected by my church, although it wasn't something they deliberately set out to do. They are simply trying to protect the church from hearing about my bad experience. They think we are going against God, but it was really the other way round. I hold no grudges against them, and I don't feel rejected at all, because Jesus hasn't rejected me.

We went to the Salvation Army, then to an Anglican church, and then started going to a Reformed Baptist church. I'd heard of these people, but because they didn't believe in the "gifts of the Spirit" I'd been warned against them. I'm not saying I do or I don't believe in tongues or prophecy today; I don't rule out that God might cause someone to speak in another language, or give someone a bit of information about something very important. What I'm saying is that I don't believe in these Toronto extremists. Anyway, we started worshipping in the Reformed Baptist church, and when the Word was preached it was really brilliant. I remember asking my husband Mike after the sermon, "Did you like that?" "Did I like it?" he replied. "It was brilliant!" We'd never heard proper Bible preaching like that before. We'd learnt a lot from our house-group leader and his wife, who were really into the Bible, but in church we'd never had a great deal of proper Bible teaching. Preaching about the cross and other great truths wasn't done very well. The Reformed Baptist pastor was a great help to me and Mike. Mike hadn't had any chance to decide whether the Toronto Blessing was of God or not. He'd just left the charismatic church because I left it; our ex-pastor told us we ought to stick together. At first Mike thought I was going against God, but when we started going to the Reformed Baptist church he was so impressed by the Bible preaching that he came round to the way I was thinking.

The voices and oppressive feelings and horrible visions finally stopped when I prayed that Jesus would cover me with His blood, and cover my carpets, walls, windows, bedroom, and everything in the house. That was the last time anything happened. I was so pleased and relieved; I could come home and actually go to sleep and not be attacked.

When I asked God why He had allowed all this to happen to me, I had a strong sense of Him telling me it was because of all the things that had been causing me anxiety. I'd allowed myself to be dominated by these anxieties, instead of applying Scripture to my problems. God had repeatedly been speaking to me through His Word about these things, but I hadn't been listening. One of my biggest problems was being rejected as a child by my parents. I had forgiven them for this, but its emotional consequences persisted. I'd had a reasonable childhood until I was 12, but then my step-father had abused me sexually, and my mother had had two nervous breakdowns. From then on I had little love from either of them. This made me become obsessed with things changing. I worried about getting older; the thought of getting wrinkles or grey hair, or having to wear false teeth, was unbearable. This wasn't vanity, it was this fear of change.

One of the worst problems was an obsessive fear of my carpet getting dirty. Where we live, people often allow their dogs to foul the pavement, and I started assuming that everyone who came into the house had dirty shoes. So I asked them to take their shoes off before coming in. This then created another problem, because xI began to feel that people didn't like me for asking them to remove their shoes. This fear of not being liked was in spite of the fact that I actually had many friends.

I should say that I hadn't always been as obsessive as this, but the birth of Christopher had brought out my bad side, because of the pressures of now having to bring up two children. All the worst aspects of my real self came out - the things that didn't show up so strongly when life was easy.

I believe that through the Toronto experience God gave me over to Satan in order to shake me up drastically and give me a foretaste of hell. I had given my heart to the Lord in 1986, but somehow or other I had got spiritually worse after Christopher's birth. It was like tasting the things of God at my conversion, but then disregarding them and allowing the enemy to dominate my life with all these dark anxieties about grey hairs, wrinkles and being rejected. God had been telling me for over two years not to worry about these things, but I refused to listen. I believe He allowed me to have this terrible Toronto experience to shake me ux and turn me in obedience to His Word. Now I felt God was saying to me, more clearly than ever, that these fears were so silly in the light of eternity. In fact, they were more than silly, because they were upsetting my relationship with Him, and He wanted me to change.

I also realised in a new way what it meant to have no other gods but God. When I started going to the Reformed Baptist church I saw they had the Ten Commandments on the wall. I'd read them many times before, but now it really stood out - "Have no other gods beside Me." I saw that my problems had become my God; my carpet, and keeping it clean, had become my God - and God didn't like it. And because He loved me, He disciplined me. I laid all these things down at the foot of the cross and repented towards God through the Lord Jesus Christ. I have renounced worrying about these things now; God has freed me from my fears. I am a changed person today: not because of any "blessing" from Toronto, nor because any "spirit" was cast out of me (I was responsible for my own state of anxiety), but because of the blessings that have come from submitting to God's Word.