Healing Line

Healing Line

Should a Healer's Lifestyle be Lavish?

by Francis MacNutt
Jul/Aug 2005

This question is not an idle one. For forty years we have been struggling to restore healing prayer, and part of the problem has been the very image associated with being a “faith healer” (do we consider Jesus a faith healer?). People have a suspicion that, if we are spending our lives in the healing ministry, our motives are perhaps less than honest. The very phrase “faith healer” is a disparaging one, bringing back memories of such movies as Leap of Faith, with Steve Martin giving a brilliant parody of the escapades of a healing evangelist.

More recently, TV specials criticizing the ministry of some healing evangelists continue to tarnish not only the image of individuals but, even more sadly, the very ministry of healing itself. We are getting tired of battling prejudice that blocks our ministry. Yet most of the people I meet who look down on “faith healers” are not enemies out to discredit healing prayer; they are good Christians, intelligent and upright, many of them ministers and priests. It’s hard enough working through the theological thicket, following upon the past 400 years of scientific enlightenment which casts doubt on the very word “supernatural.” But what adds fuel to the fire is the suspicion that “faith healers” are in this work to make money off the simple faithful. What we need is to rehabilitate and to heal the very phrase “Faith Healer.”

The first step in doing this is for those of us involved in the healing ministry to turn to the words of Jesus himself who, it  seems, was keenly aware of the danger of healers making a pot of money off it. When he sent out the Twelve (Mt. 10:1ff and Lk. 9:1ff) and then the 72 (Lk. 10:1ff), he spoke clearly in describing the healers’ simple lifestyle:

Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.

When you enter a town or village, don’t insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave (Mt. 10:11 in The Message version).

Summing up Jesus’ instructions: don’t grow rich living off this gift I’m giving you. You deserve enough food to eat as well as a place to stay, but do not seek luxury.*

Since one of the sins prevalent in our nation is greed, we as preachers of the kingdom should be setting an example in following Jesus’ instructions and in challenging our culture of greed. When we hear that a priest or minister has been caught in “immorality,” our thought immediately goes to sexual sins. Greed is just as prevalent as adultery, but is less recognized as a sin.

Whenever I read the story of the Rich Young Man (Lk. 18:18-27), I feel personally challenged and wonder if I should not give away  more of what I have and share it with the poor. The ancient Christian tradition is that whatever is over and above what we really need for ourselves and our families (and this includes education), we should share the excess with a needy mission, a needy church, or a needy person. These are hard sayings (and similar Gospel passages are not often preached on Sunday, in churches or on TV). Jesus’ contemporaries had trouble with them, too, and the Gospel says that “When the Pharisees, a money-obsessed bunch, heard him say these things, they rolled their eyes, dismissing him as hopelessly out of touch” (Lk. 16:4 in The Message).

We all admire Billy Graham for many reasons, but most especially because his very lifestyle preaches as well as his words.  He avoids the very appearance of sexual impropriety and, although he seems to live comfortably, his lifestyle is not lavish.

Similarly, at the very least, we should avoid the very appearance of using Jesus’ ministry to acquire a fleet of exotic cars and aspiring to live like a millionaire. Even people who are not particularly Christian know enough about Jesus’ teaching to be offended when they see Christian leaders who seem to live lavishly off the offerings that the faithful make to spread the Gospel. Something that sounds akin to greed is even made into a motive for giving; “Give abundantly to my mission and God will reward you a hundredfold.”

Continually, I am challenged by the ideal held up by Jesus when he said, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not ask your friends, brothers, relations or rich neighbors, for fear they repay your courtesy by inviting you in return. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; that they cannot pay you back means that you are fortunate, because repayment will be made to you when the virtuous rise again” (Lk. 14:12-14). Clearly, we are to be generous with the poor. Especially, if we are leaders, we should demonstrate an example of not falling prey to greed, just as we are to be careful not to leave the impression that we are unfaithful in sexual matters. His instruction to the Twelve was, “You received without charge, give without charge” (Mt. 10:8).

Do we take his orders seriously? If we do, the term “faith healer” will finally lose its reproach and destroy the barrier of prejudice that prevents intelligent people from considering the great gift Jesus gave us.

(Footnotes)
* On the topic of poverty, from an evangelical perspective, I recommend God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, by Jim Wallis (Harper San Francisco), Chapters 13-17.


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


News About Healing

by Francis MacNutt
Jul/Aug 2005

With this issue of The Healing Line we begin a new feature: news items about healing prayer. In our reading we discover many fascinating articles and we want to share them with you.

With this issue we begin our new feature with parts of two very encouraging articles about Pope John Paul II’s positive view of the charismatic renewal. To me this brings back memories of a visit to Rome, in 1973, where I was chosen to be one of a dozen international Catholic leaders to meet with Pope Paul VI. At that time the future of charismatic renewal was called into question by a few skeptics who were convinced the rug was going to be pulled out from under us. Our great hope, then, was that the Pope and the Vatican would accept the renewal of the Holy Spirit with all its attendant charisms. (Pope Paul, at that meeting,  gave us the go-ahead to promote charismatic renewal.)

The following news about Pope John Paul II shows that our dream actually has come true, but the mystery now to ponder is this: why, even after the Vatican’s approval, does it seem the charismatic renewal in the Roman Catholic Church has peaked? (See the article in the March/April issue of The Healing Line: “Why Did the Charismatic Renewal Peak?”) Our 1973 hopes and dreams about the Church’s approval have come true, yet the renewal doesn’t seem as vigorous as it was in the 1970’s. What has happened? For those of us who belong to all the established churches, this is a question that needs to be addressed.

Now, to the encouraging part!


POPE JOHN PAUL II AND THE HOLY SPIRIT

In the recent issue of Charisma magazine (June 2005) there is a remarkable article (“Man of the Spirit”) by Ralph Martin, one of the leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, in which he shares an area of the Pope’s life that most people know very little about: his warm acceptance of the charismatic renewal.

Ralph describes how, shortly after his election, Pope John Paul II held a meeting with ten international leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Arranging the group in a circle, the Pope shared intimately about his own experience of the reality of the Spirit. His father had advised him to pray to the Spirit every day, and he was faithful to this practice for 50 years. “This was my own spiritual initiation,” he said, “so I can understand all these different charisms. They are all part of the richness of the Lord.” If you know how difficult it is to arrange a private meeting with the Pope, you will realize how significant it was that, over the years, the late Pope made an extraordinary effort to attend, regularly meetings with the charismatic leaders. I know, from talking with several of these leaders, that the Pope often asked them to pray for him.

In 1986, the Pope devoted an entire document (“Dominum et Vivificantem”) to the work of the Holy Spirit, in which he called for the Church, once again, to “encounter the Spirit,” and described it as “the dynamic power of the Church’s renewal.”

In 1998, the Pope made the remarkable statement that he looked forward to the year 2000 “with the sole purpose of preparing everyone to be docile to the working of the Spirit.” In the year 2000, he invited all the Catholic renewal movements to come to Rome to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, and more than 500,000 pilgrims responded by flocking to Rome from all over the world. In his talk at this great event, he emphasized the Church’s need to seek the guidance of the Spirit and to rediscover the charisms (I Cor. 12). He made an extraordinary plea: “Today, I would like to cry out to all of you gathered here in St. Peter’s Square and to all Christians: Open yourselves docilely to the gifts of the Spirit! Accept gratefully and obediently the charisms which the Spirit never ceases to bestow on us!”

Ralph, on a number of occasions, was invited to meet with the Pope in his private chapel. Writing about these meetings he has said: “Every time I went he was already there, kneeling, lost in prayer. On some occasions he ‘audibly’ groaned in the Spirit, while in deep intercession.”

Occasionally, the Pope prayed for exorcism over troubled people. One Italian Cardinal, Francesco Marchisano, let friends know that the Pope had prayed with him for the healing of a serious throat ailment and promised him that he would be healed. Soon after, he was healed.

In the same issue of Charisma (June 2005), there is another article about Pope John Paul II by a Protestant, Stephen Mansfield. Mansfield writes about one incident which will be appreciated by all those involved in charismatic renewal:

… A prominent American pastor who was interviewed for this article but who asked to be unnamed recounted the occasion when he was granted an audience with the Pope:

    The time came for the Pope’s afternoon prayer time. He asked me to join him, and when he buried his face in his hands to pray there was such a rush of holiness…that I wasn’t sure I could stand. I can only hope for the same kind of anointing in my own life.*

(Footnotes)
* “Keeper of the Flame” by Stephen Mansfield, pp. 41-44.


AN ENCOURAGING WORD

At times we get a little discouraged by the slow acceptance in the Church of the healing ministry. As an encouragement I share part of a letter I received from a Dominican priest who has worked for years in Bolivia and with the Hispanics in Texas:

I want to be sure that you know what is going on with the healing ministry in the Catholic Church.

Part of what the we do in parishes is to introduce them to the Mass of Healing and Anointing, and then leave the parish to continue with a monthly or bi-annual celebration. Over the past 35 years this has become a growing custom in the Church. This does not exclude the people praying for each other, but, rather, incorporates their individual praying as part of the whole celebration. We also encourage the people to take blessed oil (which they have been doing anyway) and with it bless anyone among their family or friends when they are sick. All this is seen as an extension of the healing ministry of Jesus and as a way for lay people, aware of their sharing in the priesthood of Jesus, to extend this ministry into our world. We receive many testimonies of healings that take place in this way.

Although it is more difficult to verify, the practice of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is also including a new dimension of prayer for inner healing and deliverance in various ways.  Clergy study days are in progress to explore the ways to help this sacrament to become more effective. And again this theological exploration does not exclude, but rather incorporates the prayer ministry of the people in new ways so that reconciliation is in fact more effective.

Much of this is being done with a theological background that emphasizes how the People of God share in the general Priesthood of Jesus through their baptism, and that recognizes that the “sacramentals” are an extension of the “sacraments” into the world of the people.

So what you have begun is still having tremendous implications in the Churches, maybe more than you are actually aware of. Your historical summary of the healing ministry recalls to me that we are at a tremendous crossroads in history and that it will take many decades (a century?) to find out what its end results will be. The former Bishop here made the comment that God chose us to live at this moment in history to be bridges from the past into the new life of the Spirit in the Church and the world. That work of the Spirit continues to have an effect beyond what we can even imagine in the future.

We pray with you, giving thanks to the Lord for the mind-blowing, continuing activities of God in our midst, and how we are all being drawn into this explosion of growth of the Reign of God! What a great mystery!


DELIVERANCE PRAYER AND PROSTITUTION

In Europe, police are discovering an extraordinary link between African women trapped in prostitution rings and the need to find Christian ministers who understand the power of deliverance prayer to break the hold of a voodoo curse. Police estimate that nearly 10,000 African women, especially Nigerians, have been lured into prostitution rings, and to ensure the permanence of their slavery, the help of voodoo priests is enlisted to put curses and spells upon the unfortunate women. Just before the prospective prostitute is sent off to Europe (for instance, to Amsterdam) she is subjected to a voodoo rite and is warned that her parents will sicken and die if she ever tries to escape her masters. The voodoo priests dramatize the rite by having her drink blood and taking her nail and hair cuttings as totems. One 24-year-old woman who had been forced into seven-night-a-week duty in an Athens flop-house brothel said about her curse, “I have no doubt about its power. Even if I had a doubt, how could I risk the life of my mother and father?”

To overcome such a perverse faith in demonic power, even skeptical international police officials have had to turn to Christian pastors who believe in the power of God to break these curses. Since the women are Christian, these pastors have to convince them of the power of Jesus Christ to free them from the power of the curses inflicted upon them by the witch doctors. The few ministers who free the women are mostly Pentecostal and non-denominational pastors who understand the reality of the demonic realm and the power of Christian prayer.

Considering that an estimated 10,000 African women are trapped in prostitution, it seems imperative that pastors from mainline Christian churches (such as Catholics and Anglicans) learn more about the reality of the demonic realm and a Christian’s ability to free victims from the power of voodoo witchcraft.

(summarized from “Voodoo a Vise in the Sex Slavery World” by Brian Murphy, AP, in The Jacksonville Times-Union, May 20, 2005)


ABORTION LINKED TO ANXIETY

Abortion advocates frequently have claimed that carrying an unwanted baby to term is more emotionally harmful to women than having an abortion. But a recent, major study (in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders) shows findings to the contrary!

Researchers, using data collected from the National Survey of Family Growth, examined a nationally representative sample of 10,847 women, aged 15-34, who had experienced an unintended first pregnancy and had no prior history of anxiety. After controlling for race and age at the time of the survey, the researchers found that, compared to women who carried the unintended pregnancy to term, women who aborted were 30 percent more likely to report, subsequently, all the symptoms associated with a diagnosis for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

If the cases found in the study were projected onto the entire population of women having abortions, it might be found that there are as many as 40,000 or more GAD cases per year attributable to abortion. Furthermore, this new study, linking abortion to general anxiety disorder, comes on the heels of nearly a dozen other studies published in the last three years, linking abortion to an increased risk of depression, substance abuse, suicidal behavior, and death from heart disease.

In their examination of date, Jesse Cougle (the main author of this study) and his colleagues considered women as being at risk for GAD, if they reported feeling worried and anxious for a period of at least six months about things that were not serious or were unlikely to happen. They also had to experience other symptoms, such as irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, a pounding or racing heart, or feelings of unreality.

There also were greater differences in rates of generalized anxiety between aborting and delivering women who were under the age of 20 than there were for women who were older at the time of the pregnancy. This may be explained by other studies that show that older women are more likely to conceal past abortions in surveys, and that abortion is a more stressful experience for younger women.

“Some studies have found that younger women are more likely to experience emotional distress following abortion than older women,” Cougle said. “Younger women may feel less control over their decision and may abort under pressure from their parents and partner.”

See the website www.afterabortion.org for additional material.

This fascinating study is especially of interest to those of you who are ministers of inner healing.


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


Praise the Lord and Give Thanks

Compiled by Anne Early
Jul/Aug 2005

From May Emerging Leaders Conference at The Falls Church in Virginia:

• The Rev. Gloria Webb of Chesapeake, Virginia, gave her testimony:  “I came to the Christian Healing Conference pregnant with expectation for a physical manifestation that the Lord has healed me 100 percent from rheumatoid arthritis.  After I received prayer and laying-on of hands, I did not have to take the usual 800 mg. of ibuprofen to get me through the day, but reduced the dosage to 200 mg.  The pain in my wrists disappeared totally.  I was able to walk about a half mile to and from my hotel room.  I also was able to lift my arms and wave my hands and dance my heart out before the Lord during worship.  I came to the conference limping and left leaping!  To God be the glory for the great things He has done.”

• From Patrick, a medical doctor:  “For at least five years I lived with a painful right knee.  Doctors examined it from several approaches, and identified bone spurs on the inside of the kneecap as well as worn cartilage and a widened, arthritic socket.  I had pain whenever I stood still, because my knee would lock.  Any attempt to move the joint was met with extreme pain.  Squatting was impossible and general walking was painful and required my limping to minimize the pain.  During the evening session of May 2nd, with Mike Evans guiding volunteer teams, I was prayed over.  My knee felt hot and a nerve that was pinched came alive.  I now can stand and walk without pain or limping.  I believe I have received healing of my knee.”

• From Sally:  “I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my lower spine more than a year ago.  Related symptoms, including numbness of the leg, continually impeded my life.  My doctor referred me to a neurologist, who did extensive testing and from whom I was to learn the final results, Wednesday, May 4th, while still attending the conference.   Tuesday, May 3rd, I received soaking prayer. Rather than ask for prayer for my back, I asked for prayer for a perceived obstruction with regard to my writing.  I described it as ‘a black tar pit with tentacles.’ I felt released from whatever that was, and I was delighted.  Very much at ease, I slept well Tuesday night.  Wednesday, when the neurologist examined me, he said he was ‘very puzzled’-- there was no arthritis; my spine was in better shape than most 68-year-olds.  Yes, the lumbar showed slight wear and there was a hint of a single bone spur, but no cause for trouble.  The neurologist is very curious about ‘what happened’; I’m not.”

Other comments and testimonies:

• “The worship through music was holy, high and lifted up.”

• “It was the holiest week of my 67 years!”

• “I believe I was delivered from evil spirits that had had a hold on me for a long time.  I stepped more into becoming a new creation.  I feel like I have been transformed by God’s love.”

• “I have been set free from significant, inappropriate weights in my life and clinical practice.  I haven’t felt this light for years.”

• “I always knew God loved me, but after having been baptized in the Holy Spirit I have felt completely surrounded by His love.  Never before have I felt so much love in a sanctuary.”

• “I was baptized as a baby, and always thought I had been ‘saved’; but May 3, 2005, I was truly baptized in the Holy Spirit as a 58-year-old child of God.  This has been a ‘life changing’ experience.  I will have to control myself so that I don’t go home and try to stop local traffic to shout the word of God!”

• “My friend Nancy prayed for me while sitting in our row, laying hands on my knees.  (I had been diagnosed with torn meniscus in both knees.)  Both of us felt the heat and I experienced definite improvement.  My knees had bothered me for almost 30 years.  This was a huge encouragement to both of us.”

• “I came expecting healing.  I’m leaving with physical healing of neck, back and hip pain, and with inner healing for two areas of need.”

• “Having suffered an incident of sexual abuse when I was a child, I had tried without success to heal both the memory and my image of God.  During prayer with the prayer ministers, both were healed, leaving me with an adoring image of Jesus that removed the pain of the memory and let me feel His amazing love.”

• “While being prayed over I saw a vision of myself at the foot of the Cross with the person who had abused me – both of us equal there, both of us sinners who, by the grace of God, had been saved.  It was powerful.”

• “I am experiencing great relief from neck and shoulder pain caused by a disc problem.  This morning, contrary to my usual awakening with pain, I woke up with very little pain and a lot more activity in my arms and shoulders.”

• “For 12 years I struggled with and ‘lost my life’ to a condition called tic douloureaux or trigeminal neuralgia.  During the last five years, I was completely incapacitated.  The pain in my face was like an electrocuting lightning bolt, causing a horrifically torturing shot of pain every time I moved my mouth for chewing, swallowing or speaking, and even when blinking the eyes.  Here at the conference I was in deep grief.  I was delivered Thursday night, May 5th, at the healing service.  I was emptied of the wounds of grief for my loss of life and the loss of my children’s childhood during the last four years.  Each small place (and there were many) that had been shut down to protect me in my torture and pain had to be cleaned out and filled back up to use again.  I was delivered, received inner healing, and have been filled again with the love of Jesus.”

• “I received the peace and felt the real Presence of Jesus with the assurance of forgiveness.”

• From the weekend internship program with intensive prayer ministry at CHM in January:  “All our lives were changed.  Jesus was awesomely present for me the entire weekend.  Long-festering issues in my life and walk were brought into the light of Christ and healed.”

From our email:

• To Francis MacNutt:  “I have read three of your books.  Your material has built me up and given me more confidence in my abilities to be a vessel of healing and love for God.”

• “I visited you this past April and received deliverance, deep healing, and a renewal in the Holy Spirit.”

• “I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had my thyroid removed, but the cancer had metastasized in my vertebrae.  After intense prayer at CHM, I was totally freed of cancer.

 

(The Praise Reports have been edited for readability.)


Jul/Aug 2005 Issue