In 1994, God did something special at the Toronto Airport Vineyard. Likewise, in 1996, God showed up at the Brownsville Assembly of God. Although a lot of what you will find on the internet is purely against Toronto, and some are uncritical proponents, I think we should have a more measured approach.
I believe that part of how we measure a revival is through retrospective review of it’s impact. The real criticisms of these movements seem to center around the “manifestations” which occurred. These manifestations often included some very strange things which I would call clearly demonic in nature. However, I do not think that the presence of such things invalidates the revival at all. It may in fact help us authenticate it. When Jesus showed up and demons were present, things happened.
I think the problem in both places may have been that they did not deal properly with the devil. In Toronto there was this phenomenon of people making animal noises and calling it God. I don’t see any Scriptural prototype for this, and on a principle level, it seems more like Satan who wants to debase man, than God who wants to empower him as his ruling agent in the world. In Brownsville, I don’t think they had the baptized animal noises but they did have a lot of people who were most likely demonized hanging out in the crowd. Perhaps they lacked the wisdom or methods to get these people deliverance and this lent creedence to the critics? I’m not sure.
What I can tell you is that both have had a tremendous renewing influence. Toronto has been called the move of the Father’s heart, and even though John Wimber kicked the airport Vineyard out of the movement, I believe it was the culmination of his life’s work. The Toronto movement brought spiritual vitality to those in the “North”: Canada, the UK, the Northern US. Flights from England at one time were becoming overbooked due to the revival. It especially impacted charismatics and, early on, some evangelicals.
Brownsville, on the other hand, was a move of repentance, which mostly impacted the Southern and Western US and specifically Pentecostals. The Assemblies of God, which was the type of church where it emerged, has had an ongoing transformation due to the influence of the revival. When you travel you might hear some AG pastor say “we’ll have our Brownsville.” This in itself is showing a hunger for God over form, which unfortunately had set into the AG more than we’d like to admit.
At a short glance one could say “why so small and why just two places”, but I believe it was God’s strategic direction that used two places to begin to transform His church. He doesn’t just look at the immediate results but the long term impact. You can never really measure the full impact of what the revived souls will do throughout the world and the new direction they will bring into the church as they mature–the Jesus Movement, for example, birthed Calvary Chapel and ultimately the vineyard along with many other Christian leaders, especially on the west coast.
In addition, perhaps these two moves of God were a sort of preparation for a much larger move of God which will ignite America and through us the world…