Healing Line

Healing Line

What Makes Christmas So Great?

by Francis MacNutt
Nov/Dec 2004

For many of us Christmas brings back the warmest memories of any time of the year. Even though I was a child during the Depression years and our family was financially struggling, I still remember that we always had a sumptuous turkey dinner, and my mother and father somehow managed to give my sister and me at least one gift — such as a bicycle or binoculars — that I really wanted. Although I understand intellectually that Christmas is not the most important feast on the Christian calendar, it is still my favorite by a big margin.

The Christian aspect of those warm feelings goes back to the religious part of it all — especially of going to church at midnight on Christmas eve when it was snowing. Christmas was so much a family feast — a feast of warmth in the midst of a cold, wintry world — and not unlike other times of family love. I remember our dear friend Tommy Tyson was amazed, many years afterwards, when my mother prepared for us a breakfast by candlelight on the family's best china — and it wasn't even Christmas. Any morning with food on the table was a morning worth celebrating.

I now realize that so many people were not blessed with all those happy memories of family love and beauty. So many people, through no fault of their own, feel particularly sad at Christmas, contrasting their own painful memories of Christmas — past and present — with the joy they see all around them. For them Christmas is not the most joyful time of year, but rather the saddest — the time when they feel most left out.

But for everyone who has a desolate Christmas memory, God has reserved the greatest consolation of all. What we have done has been to cover over the desolation of that first Christmas with a glow that simply wasn't there. God became a human being in Jesus in such a way that every person — especially the most downtrodden and homeless — can feel at home.

The Jewish people were still waiting for the long-awaited Messiah to appear, although God had seemed to remain silent for several hundred years. They were looking for a warrior king, like David, who would raise up an army to overthrow the Roman occupation. They looked forward to a return of the opulence of Solomon and to a glorious and powerful kingdom of God led by a warrior-king, born into a palace rather than a stable.

But consider what Jesus' birth was really like. His mother was almost cast aside as an unwed mother. They had to travel by donkey in the last days of her pregnancy, and his father, Joseph was embarrassed by not even being able to rent a room for Mary to give birth. "No room for you at this Inn. Go somewhere else." We know Joseph had to go looking for the closest quiet place and finally came up with a stable — or perhaps it was a cave. The stable would be our equivalent of giving birth in a garage — on the road, homeless. Joseph helped Mary give birth alone — no relatives to help, or to celebrate. No one to help rejoice until the angels gathered a few poor shepherds from off the hillsides. We manage to put a shiny gloss upon the event: according to the accepted translation the newborn Jesus was wrapped "in swaddling clothes" — and what were those but first-century "diapers," and then they laid him in a "manger" — another word we don't use except at Christmas. What it really means (derived from the French word "manger," meaning "to eat") is a "feeding trough for animals."

Clearly the meaning of Christmas is that the Almighty God who created the universe, who caused the prophets to tremble in fear when they saw him high and lifted up, unexpectedly slipped into this world of ours in such a way that hardly anyone noticed. He came in such a humble way that each one of us can dare approach him – even the most poor, the most threadbare. And he didn't come in disguise, he really was poor.

Every one of us can now approach God — not even looking up, as it were, but looking down upon a helpless baby. The Almighty God has identified himself, not only as one of us, a human being, but as one of the poorest working class, so weak as a newborn that he needed to be lifted by his mother to nurse him at her breast. Instead of dressing up to meet him, we will now miss him if we don't dress down. "For I was hungry and you gave me food... in prison and you came to see me" (Matthew 25:37–41 passim).

Jesus has come to you, especially if you are the lost sheep. No matter how pitiful your life has been, he comes to you this Christmas. The only aspect of Christmas that is utterly awesome is his reaching down to you in his infinite love.

Francis and Judith
with Rachel and David

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Nov/Dec 2004 Issue

Beneath the Surface

by Francis MacNutt
Nov/Dec 2004

We have just finished six intense weeks, including two conferences in Jacksonville, one in Connecticut, and one in Colorado, all interspersed with hurricanes Frances (notice, it was not Francis) and Jeanne. Nearly a thousand people took part in these conferences. Many were transformed and, we hope, all were blessed.

Yet there is one really important impression we want to share – especially because we believe it is saying something to the entire church, if we only had a channel to share it. There is a depth of suffering out there among the people that is simply not being addressed by what most churches do in their services. Whenever we speak or pray in any depth about subjects that really touch on the deepest spiritual and emotional needs of the people, the response is profound — heartfelt sobs and cries, even though our talks are not all that emotional.

Take, for example, last week where we held a weekend conference in Vail, Colorado (the 25th year we have gone there). One of the members of our team spoke about the healing she had received to free her from the effects of the sexual abuse she had suffered over a period of years as a young woman. Responding in the healing service afterwards, about 20 women came up to her, asking for prayer to be healed as she had been. Several of the women had never shared their devastating experience with anyone. (Our teams prayed with people for about three hours afterwards.)

The significance of all this is profound, since experts in this area estimate that perhaps one out of three women in our country have suffered from sexual abuse, and one out of seven young men have similarly suffered. The effects of this do not go away (140 men who experienced abuse at the hands of priests in the current crisis in pedophilia have committed suicide.) Counseling and psychiatric treatment certainly can help those wounded in this way to cope, but the effects ordinarily do not disappear. The person is permanently troubled, and others may also be affected ( such as a husband or wife who is not able to respond positively to the sexual aspect of the marriage relationship).

What we have learned in our years of praying for healing, is that these sufferers' experiences can be transformed. Often, many sessions of prayer are needed; but always, as in all four of our recent conferences, some receive an instant and dramatic transformation. For example (again at this last Vail conference), a woman testified to having been continually molested as a young woman in what her parents had considered a safe home. When she received prayer, she went back 15 years and saw herself on her back, in the shape of a cross, as she had been when she was abused by her attacker. Then she saw the ground rise up under her in the shape of that cross. The ground was transformed into a wooden cross which turned sideways and rose up out of the ground to stand like a traditional cross, and there — she saw Jesus — hanging on that cross. At his feet, she saw her attacker, only now he was repentant, weeping, embracing the feet of Jesus. For the first time, she was freed of the torment she had constantly felt, with her body — from the neck down — feeling as if it weren't really part of her. At the same time she was able to forgive her attacker.

This moving story of healing and reconciliation is typical of what we often see or hear. These devastating stories of abuse affect countless numbers of people who sit out there in the pews on Sunday; however, our regular religious services — good as they may be — do not free the people who are silently suffering. And it's not only sexual abuse; there are the manifold tragedies affecting the human race, including the post – traumatic stress that touches so many returning war veterans who have seen death and tragedy close at hand.

Occasionally, these wounds that may devastate the very depths of a person's spiritual life are healed by what happens in an ordinary church service; but usually, devout people are not touched at the deepest level where they really live.

I'm not blaming anyone, just saying that we are discovering in a dramatic way how much pain and suffering are out there in the people. Thank God we are learning more and more about how Jesus can heal his people. Now we have to discover and open up new channels so that God's healing love can flow into his people.

It reminds us of how Jesus once looked out and saw the people harassed and dejected, wandering around like sheep without a shepherd. They were a harvest, ready and waiting, but there weren't enough workers to reap the harvest. (Matthew 9: end of chapter.) So Jesus prayed for more workers!

More, Lord, More!

Francis and Judith
with Rachel and David

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Nov/Dec 2004 Issue

Praise the Lord and Give Thanks

Compiled by Anne Early
Nov/Dec 2004

From our mail:

From Daniel, who attended the Emerging Leaders in Healing Conference, September 20–24

"That week was truly filled with the breath of the Holy Spirit. I was continually aware of His presence and His joy. Although I did not realize it at the time, the mountain top experience was when Francis MacNutt prayed for me to receive the gift of knowledge and discernment. I never had dreamed that such a gift was even possible." Daniel continued, sharing a number of experiences in which God had blessed him with the gift of knowledge and discernment when praying with people, and concluded by saying: "The week I spent at your Christian Healing Ministries [the Emerging Leaders in Healing Conference] was the most wonderful and spiritually rewarding of my entire life. I thank God for your wonderful programs about healing."

From Leah

"It is not easy to express how many inside parts of me have been touched through the ministry of CHM, since I first heard Francis and Judith in the 1980's, in Oregon. At the Emerging Leaders in Healing Conference in May of this year, I felt like something deep inside was stirred that led me to several 'fixed places': I re–heard a call to the healing ministry, I found a clarifying of my spirituality when Francis spoke of the four main streams of Christianity, and I observed a kind and humble practice of praying for people. I am a physical therapist and a counselor by profession(s), and have found it so encouraging and exciting to meet other health care professionals at the Emerging Leaders Conference and at the School of Healing Prayer. I bless you in the Name of Jesus for giving flesh to His heart and mind."

To Francis and Judith MacNutt from Bernadette

"It was a year ago last March that I found CHM and stopped for prayer. You prayed over me and for my sciatica. I will never forget your prayer, which started out in English, then suddenly turned into tongues. I think I can truthfully and sincerely say that when God heals, the healing is permanent."

"I praise God for a true intimacy with Jesus

Which came about after the Friday and Saturday prayer time at the healing Conference in Vail, Colorado, October 2003. I thank God for your faithfulness and your ministry."

From Larry

"As a participant of your 3–Day Intensive Prayer last year, I have been healed of emotional bondage that I had carried for 50 years. Praise the Lord."

From Lynn

"Through Francis' and Judith's ministry at The Falls Church Episcopal in Virginia, December 6, 2002, the Lord entered my heart and helped me forgive someone for wrongs I truly had thought I would carry to my grave. I was not, then, a Christian. The Lord's grace of that weekend and all that followed transformed my life — to the core. I now am a charismatic Christian in love with the Lord. May God bless, enliven, enrich, and sustain your ministry."

"I am praising God for his beautiful healing

I received while attending the August 9th Day of Healing Prayer. Recently I had lost half my hair as a result of Hashimoto Hypothyroidism. I am 49 years old. The inner healing I received that afternoon went way back to my life as a very young child; the tears that flowed were those of a tiny child. Within two weeks all my hair had returned. I am so thankful to my Lord who loves me so very much."

From Marla

"Last month, when I attended the Eucharistic Service at CHM, I put the names of my son and daughter–in–law on your Intercessors' prayer sheet for conception. They had been trying to conceive for at least four years. Well, my daughter–in–law is pregnant. Thank you for your prayers."

From Alison's aunt

"Two years ago my then 39 year old niece, Alison, was diagnosed with a rare angiosarcoma affecting her lungs and liver and for which there is no known treatment. The prognosis gave her only 5 to 8 years. I asked CHM's prayer warriors to pray for Alison's health and healing. In the spring of 2004, Alison suffered a retinal hemorrhage in her right eye. Again, I asked the prayer warriors for prayers to restore Alison's vision. Slowly her vision has been completely restored, praise God. Her checkup in late August included an MRI of the brain and the usual scans of lungs, abdomen and pelvis. Praise God for very good news. There are no lesions in her brain, thank God. Her pelvis and abdomen remain negative, and the lesions of her lungs and liver are unchanged — no increase in size or number. We are so grateful for the restored vision and that there has been no advancement of her lesions in two years. What a gracious and merciful God we have. Thank you for your prayers."

From our email and phone calls:

From Bart, who had requested prayers for 17 year old Jackie, suffering from MDS syndrome

"Thank you, already, for your prayers. Jackie is having a miraculous recovery."

From Lesley

"Thank you for praying for my deliverance. Within a month of adding my name to your prayer list, I received a dramatic deliverance from a spirit of infirmity and fear of sickness. I also was delivered from a spirit of divination that had passed down through my family. I cannot tell you what relief I have felt since the Lord delivered me from those unclean things. All I could say the next day was: 'Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.' My health has improved since my deliverance."

From Aimee

"Thank you. I so very much appreciate your prayers. Please tell the intercessory prayer team that I have had some pretty wonderful close encounters with the Lord for the past two days. I know He is doing a deep work in my heart. I actually can feel him moving and healing in my innermost being. It's wonderful. God bless you and your ministry."

From Hank

I have reached a place of stability that I have not known in six years of recovery from Bipolar Disorder. Thank you for your prayers."

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
(Psalm 31:24)

(The Praise Reports may have been edited for readability.)

Nov/Dec 2004 Issue