Written by Paul Steven Ghiringhelli
Leaders of the Canadian ministry evangelist Todd Bentley founded a
decade ago say the one-time revivalist is "intent" on divorcing his
wife and is yet to begin a restoration process.
six-page letter to ministry supporters, the board of Fresh Fire
Ministries (FFM) released more details about the circumstances that led
to Bentley’s departure in August from the Lakeland, Fla., revival
meetings he led for four months.
"Todd Bentley has
demonstrated himself unfaithful to his wife by entering into a
relationship with another woman while still legally married," the board
said in its statement. "Todd has yet to enter into a clear system of
accountability with the leaders he identified that would be involved in
such a process."
The leaders claim Bentley, 32, has no
biblical grounds for leaving his wife, Shonnah, and their three
children, and that the nature of his relationship with his children’s
former nanny is "that of adultery."
separation from Shonnah was initiated completely by Todd and he has not
seen her or the children since the last week in July," they stated.
"It also needs to be clarified that Shonnah has in no way initiated
this divorce and has no present intention to do so at any time in the
future. She is understandably hurt by Todd’s infidelity, but is not
asking or pressing for a divorce."
On Tuesday, Bentley
said there had been no sexual immorality between him and the former
nanny. He claimed that for two years no "spark or interest" in the
former staff member existed, and that the two developed only an
emotional relationship several weeks after July 1, when Bentley filed
He admitted, however, that the budding relationship was "absolutely" bad timing.
"I would call it an inappropriate relationship, in the sense that it
was too soon, too quick, and should’ve never happened the way that it
happened," Bentley said. "Emotionally, she had stepped in to comfort me
as a friend would.
"But I never left my wife to be with
another woman," he said. "There was nothing premeditated or
inappropriate in my heart. I had never even entertained the idea that I
liked this girl. It never went there."
Claiming to have
gone through years of counseling with his wife, Bentley said he is
divorcing her over "irreconcilable differences."
denied disconnecting from his children and told Charisma he is in
constant phone contact with them and plans to see them as soon as he
sorts out issues with his visa.
Bentley said FFM let him
review the letter before they made it public and that he was unhappy
with portions of it. He said he felt the letter implied that the
breakup of his marriage could be blamed on his relationship with his
former nanny and the pressures of leading daily nonstop revival
meetings in Lakeland.
"I have the utmost respect for my
team in Canada and we have had a lot of years together," he said.
"[But] I’m not in agreement with my board on this. The point is, [the
former nanny] wasn’t the cause. And I don’t want to blame Lakeland. I
want to blame a bad marriage."
Bentley said he is willing
to take 100 percent responsibility for his actions and that he readily
admits he’s guilty of doing a lot of things wrong over the years. "In a
lot of ways, the ministry has been my mistress," he said. "That did
destroy my marriage. That I have to take responsibility for."
The FFM leaders said they had been on an "emotional rollercoaster" for
several months before releasing the statement, seeking to persuade
Bentley to abandon his relationship with the former nanny, return to
his wife and children, and quickly embrace a process of counseling and
In the letter, the board thanked leaders
of other ministries who have reportedly tried to help implement a
process of restoration for Bentley. "But what we have come to realize
is that ultimately, the buck stops with the FFM board of directors,"
they said. "No one knows Todd better, or has more access to all the
facts from both sides than we do."
Ministries’ founder Rick Joyner announced in October that he would be
leading a team to help restore Bentley and would be assisted by Revival
Alliance member Bill Johnson and Texas pastor Jack Deere, along with
pastors John Arnott and Ché Ahn serving as advisers.
Bentley said he is still involved at an emotional level with his former
nanny and soon plans to move to Joyner’s headquarters in Fort Mill,
S.C., to "fully embrace a healing and restoration process."
Joyner confirmed that the process could begin as early as January. He
did not confirm if abandoning his relationship with the nanny was a
precondition Bentley would need to agree to before entering a healing
process led by Joyner.
Joyner did express disappointment
with FFM’s recent statement about Bentley and said he tried to persuade
them not to send the letter in its current form.
is almost always another side to a story, as there is to many of the
things they presented in this letter," Joyner said. "Sometimes the
truth is found somewhere between the two sides, but if we’re going to
ever get to real healing and reconciliation I don’t think this kind of
The FFM board said they decided to send
the letter to supporters after spending months of silence "in deference
to [the] leaders" involved in trying to lead Bentley through a
restoration process. "We struggled for a while with the question of how
to satisfy two important obligations—that of honoring Todd, while
believing for his restoration, and at the same time, our obligation to
be completely honest and open with you."
experienced a moral failing, the FFM leaders said the Lakeland Revival
he led was an authentic move of God. "Through the weakness and failure
of man, the enemy seeks to defame and discredit what God has done,"
they said. "[But] Lakeland was and is an authentic move of God. God
poured Himself out in Florida and through the Internet and television
around the world."
FFM is in the process of restructuring
its ministries with assistance from Johnson’s church in Redding,
Calif., and Joyner’s ministry in South Carolina.
letter also stated that Bentley has officially resigned and that the
Abbottsford, British Columbia-based FFM is searching for another
leader. "We love Todd dearly, [and] it is our deep desire that our
brother should be restored," they said.
us make it clear, that although what Todd has done is inexcusable, it
is not unforgiveable. We do not judge him unworthy of a second, third
or even fourth chance." [charismamag.com, 12/4/08]