Face-kicking 'faith healer' Todd Bentley is coming to Croydon
A CANADIAN evangelist who believes he can "heal" people by kicking them in the face is heading to Croydon.
Controversial pastor Todd Bentley, who was convicted of a sex attack on a seven-year-old when he was 14, is to hold a three-day event at Croydon Conference Centre, in Surrey Street, in August.
Bentley, 36, claims to be able to cure the sick by placing his hands on them, but is also known to forcefully kick, hit and knock over those who take part in his healings.
In one incident, the burly pastor intentionally kicked an elderly woman in the face and in another a man was pushed over and lost a tooth.
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Bentley says the Holy Spirit tells him to use these techniques as part of his "miracles".
Croydon Conference Centre would not be drawn on his controversial methods or background but said the event fell within its "sphere of normal operations".
Bentley, through his church Fresh Fire Ministries, was a key figure in a six-month Christian "revival" which attracted 400,000 people to Lakeland, Florida, in 2008.
The revival was broadcast around the world on a channel called God TV, and Bentley even claimed he cured people while they were watching him at home.
Videos on YouTube show him inviting members of the audience - who hope he will heal terminal illnesses or crippling conditions - onto the stage.
They end up convulsing and falling into a heap on the floor after being touched – or simply at the sound of his voice.
By the end of his revivals, dozens of people are left writhing around on stage, shaking uncontrollably.
Speaking about his techniques in one video, Bentley said: "I was asked why the power of god isn't moving and I said it's because I haven't kicked that woman in the face.
"The Holy Spirit spoke to me, the gift of faith came on me, and said: 'Kick her in the face. With your biker boot'.
"I inched closer and I went like this (he kicks out forcefully) – Bam!"
"Just as my boot made contact with her nose, she fell under the power of God."
In 1990, when Bentley was 14 he was convicted of a sex attack on a seven-year-old boy.
He told American ABC News. "I am very open about my past. I was charged with a sexual crime.
"I was charged at 15 and I ended up in five youth prisons. The crime was a sexual assault.
"I was a child and I abused a child. I served time in prison for my crime."
The healing session was listed on the website of Folly's End Community Fellowship Trust, which hires out the conference centre, and the church is mentioned on Bentley's promotional material as a co-host, but pastor Dave Markee said this was a mistake and the church has nothing to do with the event.
The three nights of "supernatural healing and impartation" will run from August 30 to September 1.