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Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley has announced that he will leave the Florida Outpouring revival meetings in Lakeland on August 23 to conduct revivals overseas. But some local Pentecostal leaders, as well as some national ones, won't be sad to see him go, and have been wary of giving approval to the meetings since they began in April.

Bentley shrugged off the criticisms.

"We're preaching and teaching the gospel and praying and healing the sick," he said. "Jesus said a tree is known by its fruit. What's the fruit we've produced? Thousands are coming to praise God."

The Pentecostal revival has drawn an average of 30,000 or more people each week, according to its leaders, with about half of those from outside Florida. Almost a third come from outside the United States, leaders estimate. Observers say the Internet, over which the services are streamed live twice a day, has also fueled attendance.

Bentley, 32, runs Fresh Fire Ministries, an independent organization based in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He is an unusual sight with his many tattoos and jeweled lip studs. A self-professed fan of professional wrestling, he is prone to giving gentle shoves or kicks and shouting "Bam!" as he touches people to "impart" the Holy Spirit to them. His antics have alarmed some, such as Charisma editor J. Lee Grady, who editorialized against those methods in the magazine. But the crowds beg to differ.

Bob and Hilkka Mounder traveled from Sheffield, England, to attend the revival. "Todd is rather special to us. We've really experienced God's presence at his meetings," Bob Mounder said. "I'm 20 years older, I know lots more about the Bible than he does, yet there's something about him. He's got something I haven't got."

While faith healing is a ...

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Leaving Lakeland
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September 2008

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