When Ps. Stephen Tan Wei Shan wrote his recent FB article for The Gospel Coalition Australia, critiquing the Bethel movement, he was soon contacted by Ben Fitzgerald (founder of Awakening Conference) to organise a face-to-face meeting, in an attempt to refute Ps. Stephen’s claims.
Shan brought three other pastors to this meeting (Jimmy, Don and Michael and Ben brought along his NARpostle (and fellow organiser of Awakening Australia), Dan Hagen. The fact that Fitzgerald has to bring his ‘apostolic’ oversight to this meeting already suggests that this meeting was a set-up to deceive Shan and his pastors.
In this article, we demonstrate how deceptive Fitzgerald and Hagen were in their discussion with Shan and his fellow pastors. After assessing these claims, it becomes clear that Ben Fitzgerald was prepared to deceive Christians who were sincerely trying to find the truth.
To begin we tackle Fitzgerald’s most dishonest statement:
“Awakening is not Bethel”
The first thing that Ben wanted to address is the connection between Awakening and Bethel. Ben felt that it was unfair for me to closely link Awakening to Bethel as Awakening is an inter-denominational evangelistic event which calls on Christians and churches to lay aside secondary theological differences for the sake of advancing the gospel in Australia.”
Fitzgerald clearly was not upfront with these facts:
- Fitzgerald graduated from Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry (he was raised to believe and endorse Bethel NAR theology).
- Fitzgerald is recognized as a pastor at Bethel.
- Fitzgerald still advertises himself as a Pastor at Bethel.
- Fitzgerald still uses his pastoral role from Bethel to advertise himself/Awakening.
- The NAR have ‘Great Awakening Conferences’.
- Bethel started Awakening Conference back in 2011.
- Bethel also holds Youth Awakening Conferences.
- Fitzgerald ‘started’ Awakening with Bethel leaders.
- Fitzgerald has relied on Bethel leaders, students and volunteers to create his events; Fitzgerald uses his position and pulpit at Bethel to promote Awakening; Fitzgerald relies on financial support of Bethel.
- Fitzgerald relies on Bethel’s Apostolic network to get speakers for his events.
So how is Fitzgerald able to claim it’s unfair for people to closely link ‘Awakening’ to Bethel?
Let’s see what Fizgerald has done and said himself:
Fitzgerald’s Graduation from Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM)
We have documented Fitzgerald’s ‘knighting’ ceremony after graduating BSSM. “This is a commissioning ceremony where graduates are being released into the service of Joel’s Army.” Joel’s Army is the end-times dominionist army, an army (according to Rick Joyner) that will ‘massacre’ (their word) Christians who do not get on the right side. (This doctrine emerged from the New Order of the Latter Rain cult in 1948.) Fitzgerald even read our article and stated, “Wow wonderful picture, thanks for the reminder. What an amazing day that was.” Click here to read more and see images of his knighting ceremony graduation.
Ben Fitzgerald is recognised as a pastor at Bethel:
Ben Fitzgerald is a Pastor at Bethel Church in Redding California. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, He met Jesus in an encountered that deeply changed him late in 2002 whilst he was dealing drugs. Since then Ben has lived passionately about one thing, showing the world Jesus in his everyday life and taking the good news of the Kingdom to the nations. As he travels extensively, Ben loves to help people live in Gods fullness of freedom and identity. He is the founder of the Empowered Evangelists network and Godfest Inc, and has a deep conviction that the future of Europe will be transformed by radical believers living free and proclaiming Jesus bodly. He also enjoys to prank people, don’t leave your food around him too long.
Source: Walk like Jesus – living a fear free life with Ben Fitzgerald, Global Legacy, http://globallegacy.com/events/walk-like-jesus-living-a-fear-free-life-with-ben-fitzgerald, Accessed 19/07/2017. [Cached]
Fitzgerald still advertises himself as a Pastor at Bethel:
Although Ben has advertised himself in the ‘past tense’ as a Bethel Pastor, this appears to be far from the truth. If we look at Ben Fitzgerald’s Facebook wall, he still advertises himself as a Bethel Pastor. This screen grab was taken on October 22, 2018. You can still see him advertising he is a pastor at Bethel bottom left:
Fitzgerald still uses his pastoral role at Bethel to advertise himself/Awakening:
“Ben Fitzgerald is the Leader of Awakening Europe and GODfest Ministries. He spends a lot of his time traveling abroad as an Evangelist and for several years has been a Pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California.”
Source: Awakening Europe, http://www.awakeningeurope.com/speakers-en/ben-fitzgerald, Accessed 19/07/2017. [Cached]
“Ben Fitzgerald is the Leader of Awakening Europe and GODfest Ministries. He spends a lot of his time traveling abroad as an Evangelist and for several years was a Pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California.”
Source: Awakening Australia, https://www.awakeningaustralia.org/speakers/2017/12/5/ben-fitzgerald, Accessed Oct 10, 2018. [Cached]
The NAR have their ‘Great Awakening Conferences’:
The concept of an end-times global ‘Awakening’ is not new in the New Apostolic Reformation.
In fact, it is one of their doctrinal terms to define how the church will rise up as an ‘end-times army’ to conquer the world (literally). This church will manifest individually as ‘gods in the flesh’ (called the New Breed doctrine) and manifest themselves corporately as the fullness of God in ‘bodily form’ (this is based on the ‘Awakening Giant’ prophecy in 1961 and is known today as the ‘One New Man’). The definition and theology of this concept is not missed by Fitzgerald and the NARpostles he looks up to, as we’ve noted in his discussion on why Awakening exists.
Below are other ‘Awakening Conferences’ put on by notable apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation.
Here is Elijah List advertising NARpostle Che Ahn’s itinerary back in 2006:
“June 8 – 12, 2006
West Coast Youth Awakening Conference
San Francisco, CA
In April 2010, leading NARpostles within the New Apostolic Reformation, spoke at an Awakening Conference:
“More than 10,000 people are expected to gather at Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church this week to hear motivational messages from leaders of faith-based and policy groups at The Awakening 2010 conference.
The Awakening is sponsored by the Freedom Federation, a group of the nation’s largest multiracial, multiethnic and multigenerational faith-based and policy organizations representing more than 30 million Americans united by core values. The group’s mission is to bring together community leaders committed to mobilizing the Judeo-Christian worldview to preserve freedom and promote justice.
The event kicks off at 5 p.m. Thursday with an address from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and is set to conclude Friday night with a Liberty and Justice Rally in Liberty’s Vines Center. Conference speakers include: LU alumnus Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, Ron Luce of Teen Mania, Lou Engle of The Call to Conscience, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, among many other influential leaders. Inspiring musical artists including Liberty’s resident artist, Charles Billingsley, will bring a variety of entertainment to the event as well.”
Source: Kristen Riordan, Liberty hosts Awakening 2010 conference, Liberty, http://www.liberty.edu/news/index.cfm?PID=18495&MID=17574, Published April 12, 2010. (Accessed October 20 2018.) [Archived]
Who were other ‘influential leaders’ speaking at this event – and was it really NAR? According to PJMiller (emphasis added):
“The NAR & “The Awakening 2010”
On April 15-16 the Freedom Federation, a recent coalition of Religious Right organizations, will be holding a conference at Liberty University titled The Awakening 2010…
[…] These include Lou Engle’s “The Call,” Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries and Oak Initiative, Strang Communications, Cindy Jacobs’ Generals International, and Che Ahn’s Harvest International.
The conference is going to include the unveiling of a new social networking technology platform which will advance the communication network concepts already developed by the leadership of the NAR.
Their religious/political networks are used to disseminate prophecy and link their prayer warriors in all fifty states and around the world. The NAR “Spiritual Warfare” networks fall under the authority of Cindy Jacobs and Dutch Sheets.
Also on the roster are other New Apostolic leaders including Rick Joyner, head of MorningStar Ministries and the Oak Initiative. Joyner has been one of the leaders in the battle against health care reform and advertises his contacts with Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. His Oak Initiative page includes videos which demonstrate the worldview and goals of the organization.”
Source: pjmiller, The NAR & “The Awakening 2010”, PJMiller, https://pjmiller.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/the-nar-the-awakening-2010/, Published April 15, 2010. (Accessed October 19, 2018.)
In June 2010, NARpostles Rick Joyner and Bill Johnson spoke at an ‘Awakening Conference’, (they uploaded their talks here):
“June 28-30, 2010
The Great Awakening Conference
Speakers: Rick Joyner, Bill Johnson, Jerame Nelson, and more
MorningStar Fellowship Church at Heritage International Ministries
375 Star Light Drive, Fort Mill SC 29715
Contact: 1-877-HIM EVENTS (446-3836)”
Source: Rick Joyner, Rick Joyner: Hearing and Obeying the Voice of the Lord Will Be Increasingly Critical, ElijahList, http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word/8683, Published April 20, 2010. (Accessed Oct 12, 2018.) [Archive]
In April 13-15,2012, NARpostles Wesley and Stacey Campbell (who are global ‘apostles’ in the apostolic network ‘Revival Alliance’, started by Heidi Baker and Bob Jones), were also involved with an ‘Awakening Conference’.By carefully examining who and what Ben Fitzgerald and Bethel are connected to, it helps our readers to understand how involved these people are in spreading their dangerous ‘dooms-day’ cult mentality of ‘taking the world for Christ’.
With this being a typical name for NAR conferences, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Bethel started their own Awakening Conferences:
Bethel started Awakening Conference back in 2011:
Jesus Culture is an international Christian revivalist youth outreach ministry that was formed at Bethel Church in Redding, California. Back in 2011, Jesus Culture held a conference in Chicago and called it ‘Jesus Culture Awakening’.
“Jesus Culture is calling youth and young adults from around the Nation to gather at Allstate Arena in Chicago, August 3-5, 2011! We are inviting revivalists from all 50 States of America to converge in ONE place at ONE time – Chicago! This will be Jesus Culture’s first arena gathering and the only conference outside of Redding for 2011.
The speakers at Jesus Culture Awakening will include: Reinhard Bonnke, Bill Johnson, Lou Engle, Cindy Jacobs, Sean Smith, and others. The Jesus Culture Band with Kim and Chris will be leading worship as well as Jake Hamilton. We are also excited to have Hillsong UNITED join us for the first time!“
Source: Conférence/revival: « Jesus Culture Awakening 2011 » (Chicago-Hillsong-Reinhard Bonnke-Bethel): Partie 1: , https://louerchezsoi.wordpress.com/2011/08/13/conferencerevival-jesus-culture-awakening-2011-chicago-hillsong-reinhard-bonnke-bethel/, Published August 13, 2011. (Accessed October 10, 2018.)
These were not just NAR music bands coming together for worship. It was a heavily orchestrated NAR event that relied heavily on the input of NARpostles such as Bonnke, Johnson and Jacobs whose theology we’ve closely examined. All these NARpostles preach the same false power gospel, the false kenotic Christ, the false sonship spirit (that spiritually baptizes people into becoming ‘little gods’), a false eschatology and a false ‘violent’/dominionistic kingdom.
Bethel also has a Youth Awakening Conference
In 2015, Bethel also organised their Youth Awakening Conference. Below a YouTube video advertising their event, Bethel (Young Saints) writes,
“Awakening Youth Conference is an expression of the Youth ministry of Bethel Church, Awakening Youth Movement. The vision for Awakening Youth Conference is to gather for two days to encounter the raw Presence of God and be transformed by the power of His love. To join the Awakening, register now at http://www.awakeningredding.com”
Source: Young Saints, Awakening Youth Conference 2015 // at Bethel Church, YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_SQS0S4Cl8, Published Aug 20, 2018. (Accessed Oct 14, 2018.)
If we look at the ‘AsiaForJesus’ website, they lay out their NAR dominionist ideology plainly. AsiaForJesus holds “a wide variety of conferences, in hopes of equipping the saints and empowering the churches through these conferences.”
Their site includes advertising for NARpostle Bill Johnson and NARpostle Robert Morris’ ‘Kingdom Culture’, Theresa Dedmon’s ‘Supernatural Creativity Conference’ and Kris Vallotton’s ‘School of Prophets’.
They also promote Bethel’s ecumenical ‘Youth Awakening Conference’.
So is it any surprise that AsiaForJesus puts on a ‘Youth Awakening Conference‘ having strong connections to Bethel’s leadership and their dominionist teachings?
Fitzgerald ‘started’ Awakening with Bethel leaders.
A question was asked Fitzgerald at Awakening Europe 2016:
“Tell us more about this. About Awakening Europe. How did it start? Why are we here? Why have you picked this stadium out of all other places? Tell us the history about all of this.” [3:15]
You will notice in Ben’s response that it wasn’t just he (as a Bethel pastor) who started Awakening Conference. It was ‘we’. There were other Bethel leaders who helped start it:
“Yeah totally. I really feel that God actually picked Germany. We didn’t really kinda have a choice in that. He put it in to my own heart, into Todd’s own heart. We were at a field not too far from here. You can kind of throw a few rocks at it. It’s just around the corner. And we saw this vision that all these people would be gathered from all over Europe coming back, shouting out to God, ‘Will you take back Europe?’. And so when we had that vision, I went back to California, just said, ‘God. We can’t make this happen. You’re going to have to do this for us– and so this has been the process. God has showed up every time, confirmed it to us.
And we didn’t know. We thought we’d do it in the field cos we’re like, ‘Dude! We had the vision in the field. We may as well do it in that field’. We tried to get the field twice. We couldn’t get it. And then a guy prophesied over me. He walked into Bethel, prophesied over Bethel, prayed over me. Prayed over my mind and prayed over my head and said, ‘Hey! I feel like God’s going to do a stadium event with you guys’. And so we tried to get the stadium and we got it straight away. They said, ‘You can have it straight away’.“(emphasis ours)
Below, we prove that Ben Fitzgerald has relied on Bethel leaders, students and volunteers to make his events, uses his position and pulpit at Bethel to promote Awakening, and relies on the financial support of Bethel.
Here is a transcript of relevant snippet – showing just how involved Ben Fitzgerald and his Awakening Conference is with Bethel:
00:00 “We just thought we would take the opportunity, we have one of the sons of this house, sent out from this house to preach the gospel in Europe, Ben Fitzgerald. So He’s going to come up and share. A couple of things I just want to say about Ben, you know I’m sure when our school was birthed in the hearts of Bill and Kris that they dreamed of there being sons and daughters being sent out from here with a passion to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t know anybody, I don’t know anybody who’s a better example of that, I honestly don’t. Ben why don’t you come up here and join me? Last year Ben rented a stadium (standing ovation) in Germany. I got to be there, I remember saying to him, ‘Ben this whole thing about raising a million Euros for the stadium, what’s your plan b?’ He said, ‘I don’t have one.’… So anyway we thought we would have Ben share because the next great adventure is only a couple of months away. So Ben why don’t you share a few things, and then we’re going to pray for you. Great to have you in the house.”
Ben Fitzgerald: “It’s so good to be home, it’s very hard to leave this place because of the people here…. So the next place we’re headed, Paul… and others from here, we’re all headed to Stockholm… and we really feel right now it’s an urgency in our spirit that this area of the world must be touched by the heart of God…. And we are really praying that God would baptize Scandinavia in Fire.”
Towards the end of the video, Bethel takes up an offering for Fitzgerald’s Awakening Conference.
In a previous article, we covered how Bethel BSSM leaders allow Fitzgerald access to their alumni to get their students to his events. Read more here:
Fitzgerald relies on Bethel’s Apostolic network to organise speakers for his events.
Lastly, and this is the most obvious – Ben Fitzgerald relies heavily on the “who’s who in the Christian zoo” (as he says). If they are not Bethel Apostolic and Prophetic leaders, they are other Apostles and Prophets of Johnson’s apostolic networks. For instance, Todd White and Heidi Baker are two of the biggest names in apostolic circles today. If this event has no link to Bethel, why are these two Apostles and two close friends of Bill Johnson speaking at these events?
In the secular world there are corrupt politicians and lawyers. In Christianity – we have NARpostles. And when they are talking, there is only two questions discerning Christians need to be asking:
What are they not telling me? How are they going to redefine terms in order to make me believe in something that’s not true?’
The reality is this – Ben Fitzgerald was engaging in damage control, trying to lift the image of his event by denying its associations with his true ‘family’ – Bethel Church. Sadly, Ps. Stephen Tan Wei Shan and the Gospel Coalition Australia did not even bother to do their pastoral due diligence by researching his claims and instead promoted the lies of Fitzgerald as truth.
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