Leaders of The Salvation of God Church in East Rochester, New York, where embattled faith healer and Fresh Fire USA leader Todd Bentley is expected to preach this weekend, declared their support for him Monday despite facing strong criticism from the public in the wake of recent allegations of sexual misconduct.
“We are not going to stop supporting Todd Bentley and Jessa Bentley and we are not going to cancel our meetings with them this weekend. Stop with the hate mail and grow up! It’s time we became the body and the light of Christ!” Susan G. O’Marra, co-pastor of the church declared in a post on her Facebook page Monday that was also shared by the church. The church was not immediately available for further comment when contacted by The Christian Post.
Bentley’s four-night event in New York with The Salvation of God Church is “geared specifically for a Healing Outpouring!” according to language advertising the event online.
“The Lord is raising up hotspots of revival where the power of God prevails and transcends all spheres. These will be healing centers much like the ministries of A.A. Allen in Miracle Valley; Kathryn Kuhlman in Pittsburg; and Aimee Semple McPherson in Los Angeles. These centers will have the mantle of healing and deliverance and will allow people to gather and sit in the anointing and glory of the LORD for days at a time!” the announcement for the event says. “We are purposefully holding meetings to reignite these healing fires and rekindle anointings!”
Bentley was recently publicly dismissed by estranged protégé Stephen Powell as “not fit for public ministry” because of an alleged “perverse sexual addiction.” Powell accused the controversial evangelist of preying on interns, among other things.
Powell, who runs Lion of Light Ministries in Pineville, North Carolina, alleged in a lengthy post on Facebook last Thursday that Bentley “has an appetite for a variety of sexual sins, including both homosexual and heterosexual activity.” He also alleged that Bentley and his wife Jessa invited other people into their marriage bed.
Bentley vehemently denied any sexual acts outside of his marriage.
“The majority of these accusations are absolutely NOT true, however, there are some that are true, and even some that have partial truths with much exaggeration based on his personal speculation. These faults are many years old…I do want to say up front that there has absolutely been NO adultery, there has been no sex outside of our marriage whatsoever,” Bentley noted in a statement.
He admitted, however, to sending sexually suggestive messages to interns more than six years ago, which Powell identified as both male and female.
“These were degrading, despicable and without question not the kind of behavior that should come from anyone seeking to follow the Lord or serve Him in ministry. I was mostly embarrassed at first, and tried to deny and cover up my sin. The grace of God and unrelenting friends would not let me do this. When I was finally able to lower my defenses and admit my guilt, I was as deeply appalled by what I had done. I admitted then that these degrading communications were not just jokes or brief lapses of poor judgement— these were things that were still in me, and if any of those who had received those communications had responded to them positively, I could have entered into deeper sin,” he stated.
“By the grace of God, I was spared from falling into more serious sins, but the communications themselves were bad enough. I was broken by the fact that these communications were defiling to the children of God I was called to serve. The fact that others had been defiled was even more heart-wrenching than the fact that they had defiled me."
Bentley stressed that he has repented and gone through counseling and a process of restoration though he is not "totally free yet of all of the darkness that gripped me during my lifestyle before coming to Christ."
In an interview with CP Monday, Powell stood by his allegations and insisted that the claims that Bentley’s sinful behaviors are all in the distant past are not true. He said he had recent evidence of misconduct by Bentley but said he was unwilling to share any evidence of those allegations until he can ensure that the victims involved were safe.
Louis DeSiena, senior leader at The Gate Church in Jacksonville, Florida, who also leads the Kingdom Revival Alliance along with Bentley, said he, along with Rick Joyner, author of The Final Quest and founder of Morning Star Ministries and Heritage International Ministries, had been trying to investigate the claims against Bentley since they were approached by Powell.
He agreed with Joyner, however, that Powell’s recent actions to expose Bentley were driven by malice despite what he claims.
In a Facebook Live broadcast Friday, DeSiena explained that over a year ago he understood that Powell had an encounter with an angel in Australia and said he had been given a mandate to expose abuse in church leadership.
Around the same time, Powell allegedly called minister and TV host Shawn Bolz as well as Bill Johnson, senior leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California “false prophets” and other derogatory names, DeSiena claimed.
DeSiena said Bentley called him and asked him to help Powell write a letter of apology to the leaders as head of the KRA. He explained that he edited a letter Powell had written to reflect that request but Powell allegedly chose to write a defensive letter explaining why he needed to call out the leaders and further attacked them.
He said Bentley recommended that Powell be released from the alliance because of the direction he wanted to go with calling out leaders. Johnson, along with Joyner, were part a “healing team” that was formed to help restore Bentley after a divorce triggered by an emotional affair in 2008.
“That’s not what we’re going to do in our alliance,” DeSiena said.
“That’s not what we’re about. We’re about revival … If judgment could actually produce holiness, Israel would have been the most holy nation on the planet,” he argued. “There’s a process for all these things.”
DeSiena said Powell did not respond well to that move and allegedly vowed to destroy Bentley.
“He got mad at me, he got offended, he got hurt with Todd, and it was reported to us that he was going to take Todd out. That was his motive now, to take Todd out,” the KRA leader said.
On Monday, Bentley pleaded with his followers on Facebook for prayer and said he is working on a New Seer School Online.
“Real Prayer needed! Do I have some true warriors that can please pray for me and my wife Jessa, family and ministry as we navigate some storms and do appreciate all the kindness. You may not understand all but pray in the Spirit! Your support in this season means so much to us. Thank you!” he said.