So I’ve had a few guys messaging me this week asking my thoughts on the situation which has surfaced between Bill Johnson/Bethel and it’s relationship with Jason Westerfield. I guess some folks who have journeyed with us over the years would be aware that in the past we have hosted Jason in the UK so are curious regarding what my perceptions would be of the whole thing. I do obviously have something of a relationship with Jason and I do really love his heart and his ability to walk in reality and the supernatural. On several occasions we have hosted Jason here in Wales, Jason has stayed at our home and I have shared his hotel rooms with him whilst he’s ministered in the UK. Usually when Jason visits Britain he will contact me and ask if I want to hang out with him, he did this recently whilst he visited Ireland. Although Jason and I have something of a connection I cannot say that we are great friends as tying Jason down is as difficult as attempting to stick jelly to a wall with a drawing pin! The guy is just a crazy mystic and he flows wherever the wind takes him.
From what I can gather there have been two attempts by Bill and Bethel to highlight the issue with Jason, (one being a mass email written by Paul Mainwaring and the other being Bill’s teaching where he raises the issue.) In my opinion both of the means used by Bethel have fallen short in highlighting any real issues regarding Jason and I suppose both rely upon Bethel’s ‘authority’ as an international ministry as ‘enough’ to be trusted. For me both attempts to highlight Bethel’s concerns regarding Jason’s ministry and mental wellbeing have if anything lacked evidence, clarity and sound information for those they are attempting to ‘warn,’ so that others can make solid and balanced decision regarding Jason. If anything this lack of information has left people asking the question of ‘why is Jason being demonized?’ And ‘what has Jason actually done to deserve such treatment?’
A few thoughts. Firstly, my perception of Bethel is probably different to most. Yes I do understand that the ministry based in Redding California is and has done an amazing work over the years and has been used to minister to countless millions via their different streams of activity. This is all good and I know that Bethel will seem to many within mainstream evangelical circles to be a radical expression of Christianity which has the ability to encourage freedom and life, all supported by countless of testimonies of healings and miracles. This may very well be the case and Bethel needs to be commended as a crazy force in helping to bring an understanding of what kingdom life should look like for the every day believer. Personally I have always sorta looked at Bethel as another mainstream denominational force who although they may be seeing some cool stuff in many ways have set themselves up to cater towards mainstream churches and individuals who are looking for that little bit ‘more’ in their daily walk with God. Personally I would not say that Bethel is a reformative power, neither would I suggest that in terms of the supernatural that they are walking in something which will majorly launch the church into the next phase of reality. If anything it was Jason’s involvement at Bethel many years ago that took it from being a cool prophetic school to a place where miracles and the supernatural flowed. It was even said regarding Jason at Bethel by one of the leaders there, that they were glad that they didn’t shut down his ability to walk in the supernatural and relegate it as foolishness as the next day his revelations were front page news! It was Jason who actually carried that reformative spirit and broke something through at Bethel which is now being enjoyed by many. Personally I’ve never felt a connection with Bethel although I can see why others would be mightily encouraged by visiting.
Jason is ‘different!’ The first time I met Jason I was astounded by the magnitude of reality that he walked in. It was shocking to be around him and every time that he left us both myself, my family and my friends found ourselves propelled into another place in the glory. It was actually though relationship with Jason that my daughter received a photographic memory and academically she has not looked back since. When Jason visited did I understand everything about him or was I able to endorse everything that he said when he was with us? Hell no! In many ways being with Jason raised more questions than answers and it made me realize that we are all on a crazy supernatural journey on planet earth. So I suppose my question is does our lack of understanding or agreement of what someone is saying then give us the right to demonize them or consider them and their teachings as Paul Mainwaring wrote regarding Jason; “biblically unsound and not sane?” Yes there is some strange stuff out there, some of it has to be off, some of it may just be beyond my understanding, but one thing that I’m learning is to be patient with other’s who may see things differently to me! Let’s not be too quick to write stuff off as insanity, Paul himself said that; “IF I’m out of my mind and appear insane then IT’S ALL GOD’S FAULT!” What does that mean?
Church history is full of witch hunts! George Whitfield leaves the safety of the church environment to preach in the streets and every church door shuts to him, in the days of the Voice of Healing movement guys were accused of ‘practicing medicine without a license’ and were often locked up for doing good to others! Look at the early Christian mystics who were so far out there in the spirit that there friends and relatives would burn them and pierce them with knives because they thought they were totally insane! Many of the early church fathers, mystics, sought solitude together in caves and later in monasteries because they were considered crazy and way too ‘out there!’ It’s not new news that guys get demonized when they are mis-understood, the sad thing for me is just how quickly the church feels the need to squash anything which may be slightly off their grid. No we can’t just accept that anything and everyone is manifesting a true reality but at the same time it’s a sad inditement on the church when we fail to allow difference to manifest when it suddenly threatens our security or livelihood!
Donna and I have faced this for years. Twenty years ago the ‘joy’ led to our demonization, 10 years ago our weird interest in a new manifestation of glory and the supernatural got us isolated, 5 years ago our new thoughts regarding ‘Inclusion’ meant that we needed a smack back into place and even more recently as we changed our language in some ares we have been labelled ‘Humanists’ or ‘New Age!’ It’s sad that the church feels the need to relegate anything that it presently doesn’t understand into the box labelled ‘deception!’ (We usually find that ten years down the road the same stale leaders recognize that they’ve missed the boat so they recant their demonization and then become professionals in the very thing that they once persecuted!) The trend within the church is that a revelation get’s released, a structure forms around that revelation which quickly becomes a denomination, that denomination feels that it’s understanding is ‘Truth’ and quickly as a system it smacks anything which is slightly outside of that remit! Sadly for me this whole deal with Jason and Bethel seems to follow that same pattern. From what I can glean from Bill’s sermon it seems that Jason preached somewhere in Redding and some of the Bible Students from Bethel attended and left ‘tormented.’ This seems to be the reason that Bethel have felt to quickly raise this as an issue.
A story; A few years ago along with my good friend John Crowder (who by the way would these days be way more accepted by some within charismatic circles than he once was, many of whom would of forcibly attacked him a few years ago for ‘Toking the Ghost,) held some meetings in Arcata California. This was one stop amongst many that John and I did as part of a tour of the USA. As always on these tours I was absolutely hammered drunk in the Holy Ghost and spent a lot of time just trancing out. As with Jason I’m probably a bit of a mystic, certainly wouldn’t consider myself a theologian and can at times seem strange and a little out there for some, (this has also caused some demonization!) As I sat down and attempted to share in Arcata I will alway remember just how hammered I was and just how difficult it was for me attempting to slur my way through yet another sermon. Sat at the front of the stage was a whole bunch of young Bethel students, it was awesome to see them but I soon became aware of just how upsetting my intoxication seemed to them. As I sat there and looked at them I noticed that a few of them looked quite disturbed and troubled by what I was manifesting. I wasn’t really doing anything and I certainly wasn’t getting into some strange preach YET the very sight of an intoxicated minister who sat and tranced out in front of them seemed to press all of their buttons. I came home to the UK with something of a perception that the Bethel students were probably quiet church kids who had grown up in some sort of clerical and sanitized spiritual environment who in no way had been exposed to even the slightest manifestation of the supernatural and were sent to Bethel as a ‘Safe Zone’ to grow further? If this is true then I can certainly see how Bethel kids would be freaked out listening to a guy like Jason!
As I’ve said Jason is a mystic, as with all mystic’s in many ways they don’t fit within church structure and in some ways what they attempt to communicate may be years ahead of time and considered pretty messed up. I can only imagine how hard it would of been for some Bethel kids to not only understand but to also process what Jason may have been talking about. It must then also have been very difficult for the Church structure at Bethel (who also must struggle with much of what Jason walks in and manifests,) to then know how to deal with this situation! Personally I think there’s a bigger picture here which I’m ‘troubled’ by, I’ve just had enough of seeing guys written off by the system just because they may be ‘off’ in some area. It could very well have been the case that Jason either ‘over shared’ or it could even be possible that some of what he shared was ‘off’ and something which he may re-consider at a later date; the bigger issue for me is why yet again does the religious system have to demonize what it does not and may never understand? Apparently Jason is insane because something was said about ‘alien interaction?’ Does the church realize that 56% of Americans believe in other forms of intelligent life in the universe? Is it the church’s job to squash and limit the ability of others to think for themselves in some matters? Let’s face it guys it’s often the church which is the last to catch on to current trends and the evolution of humanity! C’mon the church believes lots of weird shit, a ‘virgin’ gives birth to a savior, a donkey talked with a man, a guy parted a sea once, bread landed on peoples door steps for 40 years day and night, a raven fed a man, a bloke who called himself the son of God died on a cross and his blood washed away the sins of the world! And we question other peoples sanity?
I suppose this story releases empathy for Donna and I as we’ve found ourselves in similar situations over the years all be it on a smaller scale. One pastor of a church of a 1,000 people here in Wales used his entire Sunday morning service in exposing us and John Crowder just because members of his congregation were attending our parties. Another pastor told his entire congregation from the front on a Sunday morning to not allow Donna and I over the threshold of their doors! I do understand that apparently the Bethel guys did all that they could to reach out to Jason who obviously felt that his journey was ok and he didn’t need to pull back from his course, it’s just sad that once again the only thing left for the church to do is to draw yet another hard line which leaves a brother isolated and treated as an outcast. As someone said once; “whenever a line is drawn we will always find Jesus on the other side of that line!” Maybe one day we will we learn that we may not all be on the same page but we are all on the same journey! I love Jason, I honor his input into my life, I’ve been messaging him this week to offer him my love and support, I just hope that he comes through this time stronger and more focused than ever before!
As always guys we appreciate you thoughts and interaction and as always we value all of you love and support towards us as a family! This week I finished the editing of my book!!! So hoping to get it out over the next couple of months x