A Near–Death Experience

by Francis MacNutt
Jan/Feb 2005

One of the most startling discoveries I made in doing research for my new book was that everyone in the early Church was encouraged to pray to heal the sick—and even to cast out evil spirits. For the first three centuries after Jesus’ Resurrection, Christians boasted that any ordinary Christian could heal the sick.

Then, beginning around the year 350 A.D. it all began to change. Only a few extraordinary Christians still prayed for healing. They believed one  had to be unusually holy—a “saint”— in order to expect that the sick actually would get well. Furthermore, a special group — the priests — was set apart to minister in the sacrament of “Anointing the Sick.”

Even the Anointing was largely emptied of healing expectations; this sacrament was restricted to those who were so sick that they were in danger of death. It became the Last Anointing—Extreme Unction—and its primary purpose was no longer physical healing but was to prepare the Christian for death. What an amazing change!

Then came the Protestant reformers, such as John Calvin, who wanted to restore Christianity to its early purity. Paradoxically, they managed to abandon healing prayer altogether. Nevertheless, in the 1500’s, Catholics still were seeking healing by making pilgrimages to pray for the intercession of the Saints in heaven. (You probably remember your English Lit classes and reading Chaucer’s recreation of a medieval pilgrimage in his Canterbury Tales). In those pilgrimages Calvin only saw a Catholic superstition that needed to be removed from the face of true religion. He still had an absolute belief in Jesus’ healing the sick but, believed that after the Apostles had died off, the age of miracles had ceased. In the years following Calvin, the Protestant reformers continued to suppress the last remnants of a “supernatural” healing ministry.

It took another 300 years, and then some theologians (such as Bultmann) went still further and taught that even the healing stories about Jesus and the Apostles were no longer to be believed as literal history. They were not scientifically credible, so in their minds these healings never really happened in the way the Gospel writers described them but were simply ways of symbolizing a deeper truth.

As a result of all these skeptical theories taught

for the past hundreds of years, most non–Pentecostal Christians today never have learned to pray for healing. When I have asked Christians (more than a hundred thousand so far) how many could remember their parents ever praying with them when they were sick as children, the vast majority have had no memory of such a thing. My estimate is that 97% could not remember their fathers, and 80% could not remember their mothers ever praying with them when they were sick. And these are the loyal people in church every Sunday!

Their precious heritage of healing has nearly been lost. The good news, however, is that healing prayer is gradually making a comeback; but it will be a struggle.

Most ordinary Christians have never learned they can pray with the sick and actually expect healing to happen. To paraphrase Paul, “How can they learn, unless someone tells them?”

But there is a further difficulty, in addition to simple ignorance about healing prayer, and that is that faithful, humble believers have an ingrained sense that only ministers and priests are supposed to pray for the sick—and then only in church services.

Compounding these barriers the ordinary faithful somehow have also come to believe that they are unworthy of God’s answering their simple prayers.

Breaking through these barriers to renewal is a real problem! Here’s the religious world view we hope to restore, together with showing how it all was reversed:

1.  In the beginning all Christians believed in praying for healing. Everyone got to play.

2.  Then just a few prayed for healing. And healing itself became rare.

3.  Next they told stories about how it used to happen when Jesus and the Apostles prayed.

4.  Then they wondered if the healing stories in the Gospel weren’t just a wonderful fairy tale invented to make a point.

5.  Lastly, they came to a point where they didn’t even believe in the fairy tale any longer. It never really happened in the first place! And that’s where some Christian leaders and scholars are today.

As Chesterton once said, “The Gospel is too good to be true.”

The good news is that we are called to recapture the vision of our lost heritage and heal our sick world. Once we ourselves have seen Jesus actually heal the sick and liberate the oppressed, never again can we return to the way we once thought—and acted.

Without judging others too critically we need simply to share in a credible way what we not only believe but what we actually experience. Once that happens, our families, our churches and our world have a chance of being gloriously renewed.

Indeed the Gospel is good,

and once again it becomes News!

P.S. If you would like to read the full story behind this article, it will be in my book The Nearly Perfect Crime, due out in April, 2005.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jan/Feb 2005 Issue

In Thanksgiving

by Francis MacNutt
Jan/Feb 2005

A most amazing thing emerged from our last Emerging Leaders Conference (September 20-24, 2004)! Several of those who attended were so fired up that they volunteered to come back to Jacksonville and fix up and improve CHM’s facility. During the conference they had visited CHM and noticed that its exterior was worse for the wear, so fourteen of them got together to volunteer to do something about the situation. As a result seven weeks later these generous workers came from five different cities in four different states to spend time at CHM painting the exterior of the chapel and Dearing Hall, bought a new refrigerator for the kitchen and donated some of the finances to do all of this—all on their own. They spent a total of five days making all these and other improvements which have dramatically improved the appearance of CHM.

They also had a wonderful time, even while working hard, and they developed such a happy community spirit that they are thinking of coming back to further improve CHM’s little center.

Naturally, we want to thank them and also mention that they would welcome donations to CHM earmarked for further improvements in what they are calling phase 2. If you, upon reading this, also are inspired with a desire to volunteer help when they return on the next trip, please contact Jeff Sampson at (904) 765-3332.

These kind workers and friends included David and Barbara Holmes (Wilmington, DE), Erwin and Carolyn Kranawetter (Newburgh, IN), Stewart and Debbie Hulett (Mt. Pleasant, SC), David Bateman (Charleston, SC), Jeff and Mary Ellen Sampson (Jacksonville, FL), Kathleen, Myka and Joseph Rodgers (Folkston, GA), and Steve and Andrew Yuhas (Mt. Pleasant, SC). Joseph Rodgers at 16 and Andrew Yuhas, 15 years old, were the youngest of them all.

We at CHM want to thank these Emerging Leaders for all they did, as well as, the other Emerging Leaders' who couldn't be here but donated funds to this project. Have a blessed New Year.


What they accomplished:

pressure washed the signs, sidewalks, etc.; stripped, primed and painted the front and side of the exterior of the chapel and training building; fixed a tin roof over the picnic area damaged by the hurricanes; replaced 5 light fixtures outside and two inside; cleaned and painted the cabinets in the training area’s kitchen and replaced the knobs on them and bought a new refrigerator; and even pulled some weeds.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jan/Feb 2005 Issue

Praise the Lord and Give Thanks

Compiled by Anne Early
Jan/Feb 2005

From September Emerging Leaders Conference:

•    Kristin, who suffered from Lupus and multiple shoulder problems (even after 19 shoulder surgeries), testified that she believed she had been healed of both the Lupus and all shoulder problems.

•    Ginny, who had relived painful childhood memories the week before attending the conference, received spiritual and emotional healing:  “One night during the singing Jesus came into each memory, visited me and held me.  It was so peaceful. . . .When I went up for prayer the next night, I was healed of unforgiveness and anger that I had been harboring – and my marriage was healed.”

From November 3-Day Intensive Prayer Ministry:

•    Holly, who came with uneven shoulders and related musculoskeletal problems, testified after three days of prayer:  “There have been numerous healings throughout my body, and for the first time in my life my shoulders are even.”

•    Dennis, from Nigeria, had suffered a sudden and severe hearing loss and, as a result of it, emotional distress.  When he arrived at CHM, he barely could hear any sounds and it was necessary for him to read lips.  He could not hear any words spoken to his back. On the last day of prayer he testified with much joy, demonstrating that he had regained some hearing even of words spoken out of his line of vision, and expressing hope of continued emotional healing.

•    A nurse from Ecuador testified on the last day, saying:  “My whole life has been changed.”  She had been suffering from lupus and diabetes.  During the three days of intensive prayer her blood sugar level had returned to normal. She said, “I believe I have been healed of both diabetes and lupus.”

•    A woman who is legally blind testified that although her physical vision had not been restored, a more profound work of a “new vision of who I am in Christ” had been accomplished.  She concluded by saying, “It’s okay if He doesn’t heal my eyes.”

•    Several “rested in the spirit” and experienced spiritual healing when Francis and Judith laid hands on them and prayed.

From our mail, email, and by phone:

•    “I am blessed by your newsletters and the many tapes I have of your ministry through the years.”

•    “Your article ‘Beneath the Surface’ in the November/December edition of ‘The Healing Line’ touched me deeply.  Finally, there is someone who can see and understand the deep scars with which emotional- and mental-abuse victims live.  In a sense they suffer as much post-traumatic stress as war veterans, because they have had to fight their own wars, mental and emotional, to survive a daily battle.”

•    From Rebecca:  “The Sword of the Spirit has changed my life and the lives of so many to whom I have given copies.”

•    From Pat:  “Many years ago you visited Tallahassee through the invitation of Advent and Holy Spirit Episcopal churches, and I attended.  You prayed for me for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and a prayer team prayed that I would receive the gift of tongues.  Several months later the Holy Spirit came to me during a Eucharist and convicted me of my salvation.  This Salvation healing is one I never thanked you for.  I’m sure it was the result of your prayer for me and your laying on of hands.  Thank you.”

•    From Chip, in response to request for prayer for his father: “In a way there is so much to tell, and in another it is very simple – Dad has been completely healed of the carcinoid cancer.  Every one of the pathology reports regarding intestines, liver, abdominal walls and lymph nodes has been completely clear.  For weeks, Dad has been reciting the verse, “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done (Psalm 118:17).” I could see in his eyes last night that he will be proclaiming this for a long time to come.


(The Praise Reports have been edited for readability.)

Jan/Feb 2005 Issue