John and Carol Arnott are the Founding Pastors and Presidents of Catch the Fire (formerly known as the Toronto...
There Is A River Whose Streams Make Glad The City Of God. Psalms 46:4
Rivers paint us a beautiful picture of the character of God. When we think of a river we envision a moving body of water full of energy, force and life. It can be incredibly powerful with the strength to transform entire landscapes. It can be gentle and calm, always bringing life to the land in which it flows. Sometimes rivers meander slowly, sometimes they move in a mighty rush, but they always have a destination. What I really love about this image of the river is that the farther downstream you go the bigger the river gets.
The River of God released here in Toronto seems to continue to grow bigger all the time. And yet, when I think about my own life and the way God has worked in our ministry I’m amazed at my own inability to think bigger. Each time I come up with a plan God seems to say, “John, you’re not thinking big enough.” My pitiful attempts at vision somehow don’t match His. It is as if every time we get a little farther down the River another tributary joins, and the river grows beyond what we thought it would. When we were pastoring the church before renewal came, we always had a five-year plan. This was a helpful tool, but in comparison to what God did by the Holy Spirit, it was pathetically small in the end.
Someone once asked Randy Clark the question, “What do you think of the way God is using you now?” He responded by saying, “Exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask or imagine.” That sums up exactly how Carol and I feel. God has done so much more than we could ever have hoped for, and it is all due to the powerful and faithful work of the Holy Spirit.
In 1993 we were a church of about 300 people who were hungry for God, but we had no framework to think much bigger than we were. Sure, we had a plan to grow but the concept of “multiplication” was unimaginable.
Ever since we have been caught up in the River of the Holy Spirit our ministry has grown exponentially in all directions. There are over 100 Partners In Harvest Churches in our international network and over 300 in Friends In Harvest, not including the 4000 churches that Rolland and Heidi Baker oversee in Mozambique. We have held over 70 conferences in Toronto and held hundreds more in international venues, all of which have affected thousands upon thousands of lives the world over. Hundreds of leaders have been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and launched into effective and fruitful ministry as a direct result of the River. We have a number of itinerant speakers and teams who have also gone around the world sharing the blessing of His anointing and presence. People are being saved, healed and brought into great freedom and wholeness through the Father’s love and the Holy Spirit’s fire.
Having said all this, there are millions right here in North America who have never even heard that God’s presence is moving in such a powerful and mighty way not only in Toronto but in other parts of the world. There are countless people within the church who don’t realize that Revival is here and the River is flowing. My constant prayer is:
“God, please help me to think bigger; help me to think your thoughts and to dream your dreams.”
A few months ago, Carol and I made a decision to host a daily TV show called “Catch the Fire,” with the vision of bringing revival to every home across North America and other parts of the world. This vision is quickly becoming a reality as the show is currently being aired on TV stations across Canada and the US. We also have plans to expand the program to Europe.
God has put a strong desire in our hearts for church planting, both in North America and around the world. Part of our dream is to incorporate our School of Ministry graduates into this strategy as part of our commitment to raising up leaders for the End Time harvest. In our local church, we have been birthing the vision of multiplication through the cell group structure; and it feels like we are about to explode with this vision. Our church body is quickly becoming excited about seeing the lost come into the Kingdom of God like never before.
In addition, signs and wonders are increasing throughout the ministry, with many testimonies of physical healings and miracles. At the time of writing we have just witnessed two people come out of their wheelchairs. A member of our prayer ministry team prayed for a visitor who came in a wheelchair to one of our revival services. Steve Long, the Senior Associate Pastor at TACF, joined the ministry team member in praying for this visitor and then encouraged him to step out of his wheelchair and walk. This individual had been in a wheelchair for 9 years, and had been unable to walk unassisted for 17 years. He had had 6 knee replacement surgeries due to arthritic problems. Much to everyone’s delight, the man began to walk around the sanctuary and has not used his wheelchair since. Praise God! Less than a week later, Duncan Smith, the Executive Director of TACF, prayed for one of our church members who had also been in a wheelchair for many years following a severe car accident. This individual, too, was dramatically healed and has been free from her wheelchair since then.
Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that God could use Carol and me in the way that He has over the past few years.
We have seen an incredible number of physical and emotional healings just like these, and hundreds of thousands of people have come to know God in such an intimate and powerful way. This is where the River has taken us; all as a result of yielding to the wonderful presence of the Holy Spirit.
It puzzles me to see the reluctance of so many people who would rather “play it safe” and keep the Holy Spirit at a distance than dive in and let their lives be transformed. We need to be told again and again that God requires us to follow after Him eagerly and in faith. A wise man once said that the way to spell faith is R.I.S.K. We need to be willing to follow after all that God has for us, even if that means losing everything.
There is a place in God that my friend Dick Dewert calls the “Miracle Zone.” This is a place of being so over your head in terms of your own resources and abilities that your only hope is in God and you are completely dependent upon Him. This is the place that the River will take you — a place of total dependence upon Him. Carol and I are realizing that the Holy Spirit has wooed us into a place of exceeding abundance over the past 9 years – the bosom of the Father. It is that place of intimacy and total trust in the goodness of God. We have learned that everything springs forth from this place.
There are many who believe that miracles happen as a result of the word of faith. We’re discovering that miracles are the result of grace, intimacy, faith and power. It all begins with God and ends with God. He offers His big hand, and we slip our little hand into His, reach out to those in need around us. Then “wham” another miracle happens. It is exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could ever ask or imagine.
Each of us is born with a divine destiny for our lives. Finding that destiny is only possible as we surrender to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. If you and I stay in the River, we will be doing the will of God today, tomorrow and forever, until we see Jesus. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to take us wherever He wants us to go unhindered by our small vision or our unwillingness to risk.
When I reach the end of my life, I want to know as the Apostle Paul did that “I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” (II Timothy 4:7) When I see Jesus face to face, I want to cast that crown before Him. When God crowns your life in heaven, it will not be because you strived to earn it, but simply because you surrendered to Him.
This archived article was written by John Arnott for release in Oct, 2002. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.