Healing Line

Healing Line

Report on our Trip to Rome

by Francis MacNutt
Jan/Feb 2002

Now that Judith and I have returned from Rome, after taking part in what was termed an "historic" Colloquium on healing prayer in the Roman Catholic Church, I would like to bring you up to date and share what happened, summarizing the meeting as simply as I can.

First, a little background might help, especially for those of you not familiar with what has been happening in the Roman Catholic Church in regard to Charismatic Renewal and the healing ministry in particular. (Although most of our readers are not Catholic, the same basic tension between charismatic and institutional elements affects all the major denominations.)

1. An astonishing change has taken place in the past 40 years in regard to praying for healing. Back then very few Catholics prayed with the sick with a lively expectation that healing might occur. I remember people being surprised in 1967 that I, a young priest (i.e., in my 40's), was praying with the sick that they might be healed. "Are you a faith healer?" they would ask in surprise. Since those days, a startling change in attitude has come about, and now many priests (and also some laypeople, such as Barbara Shlemon–Ryan) hold healing services.

But what is also true is that this charismatic/healing renewal has reached a plateau and that the majority of bishops and priests do not really understand the healing and deliverance ministries and that most seminaries do not teach anything about these vital aspects of Christ's mission.

This particular meeting in Rome, though, may indicate that a quantum leap lies in the future — at least we hope so. As John Allen, the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter writes: "Though you didn't read about it in the world press, a remarkable summit took place... a three–day session brought together curial heavyweights and some of the key figures of one of the most controversial spiritual currents in post–Vatican II Catholicism... An all–star lineup from the charismatic world, above all, from the United States, was present."

As I mentioned in the last Newsletter, about 120 of us were invited to participate. Only four did not come, which shows an extraordinary degree of interest, considering that everyone had to pay for their travel to Italy.

For Judith and me, the conference was a real learning experience, because the important communication was in diplomatic terms: it wasn't what was said directly in the talks but in what was communicated indirectly simply by looking at the lineup of speakers who represented the most important offices in the Vatican, including several bishops. We were told by people familiar with the Roman scene that these officials would not convene a meeting, nor have time to address people like us, unless they believed that the charismatic renewal had achieved enough significance to warrant a real dialogue. That was the real message of the Colloquium.

The conference itself we found difficult because some of the speakers did not have a real first–hand acquaintance with the healing ministry and we, of necessity, had to listen to translations of highly technical talks from Italian, French and Spanish texts, but yet we realized that the conference was very positive because it signified that the Catholic Church in its institutional aspects is ready to engage in a mutually beneficial exchange of views. The Pope (John Paul II) has said that the charismatic and institutional aspects of Christianity should not be seen as opposed but are simply different aspects that must work together. Catholic charismatic groups have distinguished themselves by their loyalty and have impressed Church authorities by really demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. We were told, for example, that 60% of the seminarians in Latin America come from charismatic groups, so now the authorities express a desire to learn more about why.

As John Allen (quoted earlier) writes:

Charismatics "worry about the repression of new ideas, of spontaneity and responsiveness to the Spirit, in the name of maintaining clerical control. They want leaders to be more open to the experience, the sense of faith, bubbling up from below. They insist that priestly ordination is not the only . way God marks someone as a channel of grace. That these ideas were given such a prominent hearing by the curia ... strikes me as good news — in its own way, perhaps, a kind of miracle."

We were particularly impressed with Cardinal Stafford, President of the Congregation of the Laity, who convened the Congress (in collaboration with the International Catholic Charismatic leadership, headquartered in Rome). An American, Cardinal Stafford patiently attended the entire program (7 a.m. until 10 p.m. each day). In addition, Judith and I were privileged to spend three hours with him before the Colloquium began and found him to be an excellent listener, as well as very knowledgeable about the early history of the Church.

From a personal point of view, a highlight was meeting many friends I had not seen since before Judith and I married: Ralph Martin, Fr. Tom Forrest, and Sister Briege McKenna, to name just a few. Then there were leaders I hadn't seen since speaking in Australia, Japan and the Philippines and various other countries back in the 70's. We were expecting that some might still show some disapproval of our marriage, in spite of our current good standing in the Catholic Church, but, instead, we expenenced a great and universal welcome that was very healing for us personally. I was also honored by being asked after the Colloquium ended to write a follow–up report, trying to state clearly and positively what the charismatic leaders believed should be conveyed to Church leaders on the need for reviving the healing ministry.

It might interest you to know that of the 120 delegates to the conference, I estimate that perhaps eight were bishops, 35 were priests and the rest laypeople (of whom perhaps 20 were women). These delegates were all involved in the charismatic renewal. Then perhaps 10 speakers, including four bishops, addressed us on a more theoretical level.

The talks of substance were mostly given by the Church officials, while the charismatics were asked to give testimonies, so it was like two different tracks — one more intellectual, the other more narrative and experiential. The tone of the first group was naturally often cautionary; the tone of the second group was more enthusiastic. These two groups were very different in background, outlook and experience. But the wonderful thing was that there was a meeting.

And, hopefully, there may be another!

Francis and Judith
with Rachel and David

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jan/Feb 2002 Issue

Healing News

by Francis MacNutt
Jan/Feb 2002

News About Healing and Deliverance

In November NBC's Dateline aired an amazing program on the controversial topic of exorcism. In the past, most such programs have tended to be sensational, were superficial, and were characterized by skepticism. In contrast, Dateline's treatment was, we thought, very fair and had sufficient length to show a real change in the man who underwent the exorcism, which took place near Charleston, South Carolina.

An unusual feature was that the main exorcist was a Southern Baptist, with a team of four Baptists, including his pastor. They prayed for five hours and the program showed the growling, the retching and the other disagreeable manifestations that often accompany a deliverance session. The client was about 60 years old and his main complaint was a long–time severe depression, accompanied by much anger.

The Baptist exorcists went about their work in as calm a way as they could manage while still dealing with a violent man. Dateline interviewed him afterwards, and he seemed to be transformed into a peaceful person.

A fascinating sidelight to this were interviews with two experts.· One, a Catholic sociologist (who wrote American Exorcism, featured in our last Newsletter) was more or less skeptical and wasn't sure if the man didn't just have a psychological problem.

The other was a psychiatrist, a Jewish Christian, who held a position in the American Psychiatric Association and who gave a very positive evaluation of the exorcism. The interviewer could hardly believe what the psychiatrist was saying, and rephrased his questions several times to make sure he really heard what the psychiatrist had to say.

All in all, this NBC program is one more sign that our culture — the medical world in particular — is more open to healing and deliverance than ever before.

More on Exorcism

Back in the 1970's, I met a brilliant young priest, Fr. Rufus Pereira, who had gotten involved in exorcism back in his native India. Then in 1978, he, among others, invited me to bring a team to preach in India, where he showed me how many people were inhabited by demons in the form of Hindu gods. (You will find an interview with Fr. Rufus in the Appendix to my book Deliverance from Evil Spirits.)

One of my many happy reunions in Rome was meeting Fr. Rufus again after 25 years, and to hear him give a 20–minute talk on exorcism. He presented a remarkable narrative about the amazing breakthrough in this ministry in which he has labored so long during an often lonely walk, as he has tried to communicate his knowledge about the need for deliverance from evil. Now, at last, the "glass ceiling" seems to be pierced and he is seeing a dramatic growth in interest among Church authorities. Among other causes of this surge of interest has been the increasing number of cases of Satanism in Europe — in Italy, in particular — which caused the official exorcist of Rome, Fr. Gabriele Amorth, to write a book in which he publicly states that bishops who do not inform themselves about the ministry of exorcism are committing a serious sin of omission! Then the Pope issued an instruction asking every bishop who heads a diocese to appoint an official exorcist.

Fr. Rufus reported that two seminars in East Berlin, sponsored by Lutherans and Catholics in 1995, came out with the startling conclusion that Satanism has succeeded Communism as the greatest scourge of Christian Europe today!

The growth of priest exorcists has been explosive. In 1993 seven exorcists held a meeting near Rome and formed the International Association of Exorcists (AIE). By the following year the membership had grown to 80 and it now numbers in the hundreds.

At the same time, due to the influence of charismatic renewal, prayer for deliverance from evil spirits (i.e., nonformal prayer, often by laypeople, but not the official Rite of Exorcism) became more common, and Fr. Rufus, with others, formed another organization (1995) called the International Association for Deliverance (IAD), starting off with 135 members.

Suddenly, Fr. Rufus found himself in great demand as bishops from all over the world invited him to give five–day training seminars to their priests. He has now done this in Brazil, Argentina, India, Singapore, Uganda and about 20 other countries ! The need for teaching on this topic is now finally being recognized.

In one diocese in Africa, after Fr. Rufus gave a talk to priests on deliverance, one priest stood up and said that all of them, including the bishop, had been involved in the occult as part of their cultural, family background. He admitted that they send their difficult cases to the local witchdoctors. He asked if Rufus would tell them how to deal with these cases. Instead, Rufus said, "I'll show you what I do." On the last day of the retreat the priests brought him some 30 cases of demonic oppression and all were delivered with the help of 120 priests, within just 30 minutes!

Now, Fr. Rufus has taken to praying for entire countries. In Haiti, for example, at a congress for 60,000 people, he prayed for deliverance for this land that has been so subject to violence, poverty and voodoo, since that country's leaders dedicated Haiti to Satan 150 years ago.

Talking with him after his presentation, I asked him whether he wasn't meeting skepticism and resistance on the part of some leaders; he responded by saying that he now finds many bishops open to this topic, but the most resistant group are theologians who teach in seminaries.

One conclusion that Fr. Rufus has come to — with which we certainly agree: deliverance is a ministry of compassion for the afflicted, more than a ministry of power against the oppressing spirits.

This is great news about the startling growth of the deliverance ministry — so closely allied with healing. Now deliverance is not just out there on the fringes, performed by "Lone Ranger" ministers who have trouble finding acceptance in their churches, but suddenly there is an explosion of interest among established church leaders. Isn't this what we have been praying for for many years?

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jan/Feb 2002 Issue

The Physician's View

by Dr. Grant Mullen
Jan/Feb 2002

Part 1 of a Series on Emotional Disorders

How I Became Involved in Emotional Illnesses

As I was growing up in the church, emotional or mental disorders in believers were always spoken of in hushed whispers. It is understandable that any personal medical problem is confidential and should be spoken or with great sensitivity, but there was another message communicated by the hushed whisper. The unspoken message was that emotional illness was a sign of spiritual and personal weakness and that strong Christians really shouldn't suffer from these conditions. In recent years I have even heard a denominational leader state that "no Christian of good character will ever suffer from depression." Another pastor and leader stated to me that "if there was more repentance we could empty the mental hospitals."

These careless statements by Christian leaders cause so much unnecessary suffering in Christians. These men are basically saying that emotional illness is the fault of the victim and that they should be able to get out of it themselves. This very damaging opinion is widespread in Christianity and has heaped condemnation and shame upon the most emotionally vulnerable in the body of Christ.

When I started family practice 20 years ago, I was totally untrained and unprepared to deal with the large number of people suffering with emotional illnesses that came to my office. I just referred them to psychiatrists as I had been taught to do. Some returned much improved on a new medicine but others were totally defeated, feeling that their faith had failed them and they were condemned to a life of psychiatric illness. I saw so much emotional suffering in Christians that I began to ask God how could this many, sincere well–meaning Christians have such emotional pain.

Out of my desire to help, I began to try some psychiatric medicines on people showing signs of depression. To my absolute astonishment (which I of course never let on to the patients) many began to improve. Since that time I have become so interested in emotional disorders, particularly in Christians, that I have converted my entire practice to mental health.

Within a few years of my entry into the mental health field . and, more particularly, the treatment of Christians, I became aware that pastors and Christian counselors were as confused as I had been about the role of medical psychiatry in Christian emotional illness. I began to hear reports of pastors resigning from ministry due to overwhelming discouragement. They clearly had become depressed and rather than· go for treatment, which they still considered as unbecoming a Christian, they left the ministry in total burnout.

I was also hearing of pastors who resigned out of the complete frustration of not being able to effectively help the endless number of people coming to them for counseling. So many of their parishioners were not improving after receiving the pastors' advice. The pastors then commonly assumed that their "anointing" or "calling" had lifted or that God was not as powerful as they had thought, so there was no longer any point in continuing in ministry.

This situation does not have to continue. It has become clear to me that the same way that humans are made up of body, soul and spirit, so our bondage also comes in three parts. We can be bound in body (psychiatric mood disorders), soul (emotional wounds of the past) and spirit (the attack of Satan). The path to freedom must address all three areas of bondage.

In this series of articles, we will examine the physicalbiochemical (body) causes of emotional illness and how medical treatment works. I hope to remove all the mystery, misunderstanding, confusion and stigma attached to depression, manic depression and other disorders of mood and thought control.

You can be free. Let's start the journey today.

Dr. Grant Mullen is a mental health physician in Grimsby, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of Why do I feel so down when my faith should lift me up? Jan/Feb 2002 Issue

Faithful to His Call

by Joy Lamb
Jan/Feb 2002

Throughout the years, there have been many praise reports as a result of the ministry of Francis and Judith MacNutt. I would like to share a personal praise report with you.

The year was 1980. I was a single mother struggling with many mental, physical, and spiritual issues. My life was wrecked from my sins of adultery, dishonesty, rebellion, alcoholism and pride — to name only a few. I was on the brink of suicide, when God lifted me up and out of a very black hole. My personal healing began when I attended a conference Francis and Judith gave on Forgiveness and Repentance. It was there that I made a list of all the people I needed to forgive and all the sin in my life.

At the top of the "Forgiveness" list was "myself and God." At the top of the "Sin" list was the sin of pride and rebellion: pride of always wanting to be noticed, praised, to be number one, no matter what. And I always wanted to do things my way, not God's way — rebellion at its best! Those attributes will quickly turn you into a person who seeks to please people (to get your way, of course), not into a person who seeks to please God.

As I began to forgive and repent, I felt the Lord begin to do amazing things within me. The "Forgiveness" list took me as far back as the second grade to forgive a much disliked teacher — and still further back to forgive my mother and father for birthing an unwanted, unplanned child (me), which I found out later was the root cause for the suicide attempts throughout most of my life.

At the closing of the conference, Francis asked that we sit quietly in our seats and request something of God, then come forward so that he and Judith would pray for us. The thought entered my head, "I am entirely too sophisticated to walk down the isle with all these people — and what on earth would I ask of God?" Then it came to me: "God, if you're really real, I want to know it, and I want to love people the way You love them." That was my simple prayer to God.

So I walked up and stood before Francis and Judith. They reached out to pray for me, and at that moment, a flame was ignited in my spirit — a flame that has given me a passion for God and a passion for praying for others that is so deep that I will not stop praying until all men, everywhere, come to know Him as their healer, their comforter, their Redeemer.

In 1988, after Francis and Judith relocated their ministry to Jacksonville, I immediately volunteered to help out at Christian Healing Ministries (CHM). Little did I know where that would lead me. My first job at CHM was filing. Then one day I was in the lunchroom and saw a basket filled with letters, notes and cards. I was told that these were just a few of the many prayer requests that Francis and Judith received from all over the world, and because of their limited time, sometimes the basket with its contents was just lifted to the Lord.

I'll never forget my words, "May I take them and pray for them?" As I read the requests, I began to categorize them according to the requested need: physical healing; inner healing (such as spiritual woundedness, mental abuse, depression); deliverance (from such conditions as drug addiction, mental problems, incest, immoral, criminal, or violent activities); special needs (buy and sell homes, desire for mate to conceive, legal cases — just to name a few); salvation; relationships; wisdom and guidance; joy and peace; protection. After I categorized the requests, I went before the Lord and asked, "Lord, how do I pray for so many?" I heard this clearly,

"Just roll call them to Me and pray My Word. My Word has the answer to everything."

At the time I thought, "That's too simple." But experience has now taught me that that simple, precious plan has . proven to be unbelievably powerful. You can pray for a multitude in a very short time and never have to worry about how to pray. Shortly after this divine message, I went to my church's chapel and began to "shotgun" the Bible for the appropriate Scriptures to fit the various categories. That again was an amazing experience. It was as if the Lord had highlighted the ones I was to put on the pages.

Now I had the people's names, their requests and a handful of Scriptures on sheets of paper. But I needed intercessors! I was the first one, and then I gathered about six more devoted ladies. We decided that if we had a return address on the prayer request letters, we could write to the "requestees," tell them we were praying, and ask them to let us know if there had been a change in their circumstances — and we could also ask if they would like to join us as an intercessor.

Within a few months we had built up an intercessory team of about 500 people. In 1993, those prayer sheets that had been going out to the dedicated prayer warriors became a prayer book, The Sword of the Spirit — the Word of God (the Sword). Today there are about twenty thousand prayer groups that are praying God's Word in one accord, and that number is growing daily. We just completed our Eighth Edition of the Sword, which is quite expanded from what it was in the beginning. The book now contains prayers for the nation, your individual city, prayers for repentance, prayers for breaking free from the occult, prayers to free you from guilt, forgiveness prayers, prayers for the unity of the church (God's heart), and prayers for the peace of Israel.

We have never advertised other than through CHM's newsletter. CHM's bookstore and Lamb's Books warehouse are our major outlets. The books have gone out simply by "word of mouth." The book is now being used throughout the world by all denominations. Many churches use the Sword as their prayer book.

Following are just a few examples of answered prayer:

• We prayed that prayer groups would spring up every where. They have.
• We prayed for the crime situation in America. There has been a dramatic decrease in crime.
• We prayed that the medical field would recognize prayer as a healing source. It has.
• We prayed that there would be more programs on TV that would promote God. There are, and more to come.
• We prayed that Dream Works' first movie would depict God. Their first movie was The Prince of EGYPT — the story of Moses.
• We prayed that abortion would decrease. It has dramatically decreased.
• We prayed that mothers would return home to be mothers. There has been an incredible movement in this area.
• The past two years we have prayed that no severe hurricane ( even though many were predicted each year) would touch us. There was no severe hurricane destruction.
• We prayed for a cool summer. It was the coolest summer on record.
• We prayed God's will for the RU 486 abortion pill. It was reported that sales were not nearly what drug companies had anticipated.
• We prayed for unity in our America. It has happened.
• We prayed that Bush would find favor with the Nation. He has.
• We prayed that the Democrats and Republican would come together. They have.
• We prayed that Congress would come together to pray together for reconciliation and repentance. The rotunda of the Capitol was authorized to be used at any time by both Houses of congress on November 27 or December 4, 2001, for a National Day of Reconciliation (still need more repentance).
• We have prayed that our Nation would tum back to God. It is happening.
• We have prayed that prayer will return to the schools. It is happening.
• We have prayed for the unity of the church, and this is happening in an unbelievable way.

These are but a few things for which we have prayed. But we have specifically prayed for them and they have been answered. We know that eventually all our petitions will be answered because God is His Word and His Word does not return void to the earth. Thanks be to God!

These are trying days for all of us since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Many think this is but the beginning of terror, but I do believe that God will definitely keep His Promise: that if we humble ourselves ( through forgiveness and repentance), pray and seek His face, and tum from our wicked ways, then He will hear our prayers, He will forgive our sin ( of which this land is saturated) and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Please join us as we pray for our Nation in one accord. Some of you who have ordered my book since September 11 may have found that in your shipment are prayer sheets with pictures of the most wanted terrorists, a list of the terrorists groups, national leaders, countries that have biological warfare, major government buildings in Washington, gangs, Mafias throughout the world, etc., along with specific Scriptures to pray. If those of you who already use the Sword will send a self–addressed stamped envelope, I will send you these sheets. If you don't own a copy of the Sword, I encourage you to order one and start a prayer group. You'll be amazed how rewarding it is!

One final note: two weeks ago I was watching a program on Islam and Mohammed. The narrator said that the Muslims credit their strength and unity to unity in prayer. This unity is simply accomplished by their kneeling five times a day at the same time and putting their heads to the ground. Can you imagine if all or, at least, most Christians prayed God's Word in one accord just twice a week, what that discipline would accomplish? A wonderful thought to leave with you — God Bless You!

Jan/Feb 2002 Issue