Healing Line

Healing Line

Exciting News

by Francis MacNutt
Jul/Aug 2007

In a month of great news (such as the success of the international Catholic renewal conference that we co-sponsored with the Charismatic Renewal office in Rome), we have another promising new venture to report to you: On May 14 we (CHM) purchased property here in Jacksonville to build a new healing center!

The Vision

We believe that there is a real need in our country for a visible sign of God’s healing presence. There are a few such centers in other countries, such as Lourdes in France. There are also many healing homes that are wonderful signs of faith (in England there are about 70), but these are mostly residential and can therefore only help limited numbers. What we envision is a center where many pilgrims can come and receive healing (in greater depth than they can in a typical healing service). (“If you build it, they will come.”) Even now on our grounds at CHM, visitors tell us that they really feel God’s love and presence. (For example, as I write this article today, cars line our street for the 30 visitors who are here for a day of healing prayer.)

We know, of course, that our lives are limited, and as we travel we find many places which were once famous spiritual beacons, but are no longer in existence (take, for example, Azusa Street). When the founding leader dies, the church or foundation often dies, too. We desire, though, that the vision of CHM will continue on, because the spiritual need it fills (healing the sick and teaching others how best to do it) will last. Our hope is that when visitors come to Jacksonville in coming years, they will say, “Isn’t this the place where people come to be healed?”

The Place

The land we purchased is what we had always hoped to find (we’ve been looking for 11 years): a natural site which is beautiful and conducive to prayer. The land we found is about 60 acres in size with 20 of them build-able. Those other 40 acres are wetlands, including a marsh, bordering on the Trout River, the southern boundary of our property. In the uplands, there lies a natural circle of majestic live oaks that creates a natural grove (a “cathedral” — pictured left) to worship God in nature.

Then, on the northern boundary lies a main road, Dunn Avenue, making it easy of access. Moreover, it is only 10 minutes from the Jacksonville airport, with all the restaurants and motels that our visitors will need.

What We Hope to Build

First of all, we plan on designing a chapel, to hold 400, looking out over the trees and marshlands. An auditorium, also to hold 400, will be designed for teaching. For individual prayer, we plan on building seven cottages (overlooking a small lake), each having four rooms for prayer ministers to help those seeking healing. A short distance away will be our bookstore and offices.

The architecture (and this really excited an experienced architect we talked to) will be specifically designed to make visitors feel as if they have arrived at a “city of refuge.” No soaring columns, no shining marble floors, but, instead, the buildings will be low-lying, Franciscan style. We want to make clear visually that CHM is not a church, because we hope to serve all churches and minister to all Christians (although we adhere to the basic, traditional Christian beliefs). Even the color-schemes will probably be warm earth tones; the architecture will be simple, and also beautiful.

The Future

Now that we have secured the land, we will need to secure the funds to build, and also to increase our staff (we are now bursting at the seams with 15 on staff), as well as to arrange for future maintenance.

As you can see, in many ways, this new center will be unique, and we are not in competition with any other healing ministries or churches. Our desire is to cooperate with them all. Our special contribution will be in being able to spend more time ministering to the sick and in developing in-depth, balanced teaching that will reach across to all the healing professions (such as medicine and counseling), as well as to all churches, so that the healing ministry of Jesus will be restored in all its fullness and glory.


Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jul/Aug 2007 Issue


Resurgence of Exorcism in Italy

by Francis MacNutt
Jul/Aug 2007

Happily, we are rediscovering the fullness of the ministry of healing and deliverance from evil spirits. We know that there were embarrassing extremes during the 14th through the 17th centuries when preachers were fascinated with witches and witchcraft, and there was a shameful number of burnings (including Joan of Arc). Then came a massive turn-around featured by increasing skepticism about the very existence of angels (and of Satan, in particular). This skepticism is still largely with us. Since we are still learning about healing and deliverance, we should be eager to learn from anyone who might have something valuable to teach us. So when I read about a new book that has come out entitled The Vatican Exorcists (Driving Out the Devil in the 21st Century)1, I quickly ordered it, and I want to share with you some of the information that I found.

The author, Tracy Wilkinson, is a reporter and is not a theologian or exorcist, and she seems to be more or less of a skeptic herself who agrees with the agnostic Italian psychiatrists who, for the most part, don’t believe in Satan (it follows they don’t believe in exorcism either). One goes so far as to call it a “scam.” Yet, Tracy is a good reporter and what she reports should interest those of us who are working to restore a balanced ministry of deliverance to the church.

The first hopeful news is that there has been a huge increase in the number of official Catholic exorcists in Italy, going up from about 20 in 1986 to 350 today. In the industrial center of Bologna, for example, there are now 10 exorcists. This is in contrast to what a friend here in the U.S. told me last week: She is a counselor and was trying to help four clients involved in “Santeria.” When she phoned the local Catholic chancery to find a priest to help with exorcism prayer, she was told they don’t believe in doing that in her diocese.

Part of the reason for the resurgence of exorcism in Italy is that thousands of Italians are now claiming that they need deliverance because of their strong belief in the power of curses and the “evil eye.” The more sophisticated theologians ascribe all this to superstition and view this renewal of exorcism as a gross exaggeration. In Italy, we find the same strong disagreement among church leaders that we also see right here in the U.S. among the authorities in almost every mainline denomination.

Several factors especially helped in making exorcism once again acceptable in Italy. The first is simply that the Catholic Church has always taught as doctrine that there is a personal Satan, although the actual practice of exorcism had fallen into disuse. Then, in recent years, an unusually forceful character, Father Gabriel Amorth, has emerged. He is now in his 80s and writes books in a confrontational style, arguing that bishops who do not provide for exorcism are seriously sinning.2

Then, too, Pope John Paul II publicly stated that he believed in the reality of exorcism. He was well-known for actually having prayed for exorcism on three public occasions. In 1987 he said, “The battle against the devil … is still being fought today, because the devil is still alive and active in the world.”3 His first two exorcisms seem to have been successful, but the third was a 19-year-old woman who went berserk at a papal audience. The Swiss guards wanted to remove her, but the Pope decided to pray with her, so they took her to a private room where he prayed with her for about half an hour, yet he failed to get rid of the demon (I would ascribe this to a lack of the necessary time). Father Amorth was also present and the next day he examined the woman, who exclaimed in a loud, booming voice, “Not even the Pope was able to defeat me!”4 The new Pope, Benedict XVI, has also indicated he is in favor of a balanced ministry of deliverance by addressing the “International Association of Exorcists,” a group founded by Amorth, whose work the Pope called an “important ministry.” So exorcism has a kind of go-ahead in the Catholic Church, even though there are a large number of theologians and scholars who do not believe in a personal demonic power. Apparently, too, there are a number of officials in the Vatican (the Curia) who believe that this surging belief in exorcism is ridiculous superstition.

So we see that, throughout the European and North American world, Christians are split on the reality of real Satanic influence. The big change is simply in the actual practice of exorcism, which in Italy has seen an extraordinary ten-fold increase. Wilkinson points out that witch burnings were prevalent in the intellectual north of Europe, while southern Europe — which is usually regarded as more emotional and superstitious — saw hardly any burnings and drownings of witches!

The next thing we can admire about the Italian exorcists is their remarkable patience and the vast amount of time they are willing to spend with their clients. Wilkinson describes, at length, the methods of four exorcists and the case histories of three clients. In our country, we see so much that is instant, including deliverance (especially on TV). In our own experience with heavy demonic infestation (such as with survivors of satanic ritual abuse), we have had to spend long hours, and it was inspiring to see that the Italian priests who minister deliverance seem to spend even more time than we do.

There is one bishop — Gamma — in Italy who is an exorcist, and he has only experienced one case of instant liberation. For him it usually takes months or years, and he has been glad whenever he sees improvement. For example, for one of his regular clients, it initially took five men to hold her down because she was so violent, but now she is less violent and can be restrained by her mother and sister alone. Bishop Gamma has five exorcist assistants to help him, because he has so much work. One exorcist, Father Taraborelli, sees 20 to 30 people a day for “blessings” and conducts three to six exorcisms a week with regular clients, who include two nuns and a seminarian. These exorcists work very hard, and it is their major spiritual ministry as priests. Their reward is to see a few totally freed and most of their clients improved, but at a cost of great time and effort.

One priest, a Dominican, prayed with a woman who was heavily demonized, but he “soldiered on,”5 and she only got worse. She then tried another exorcist and instantly got better, sleeping well for the first time in years, but it took nine months before she finally felt cured. Her psychiatrist is still skeptical, but admits that she has “changed totally.” One exorcist, Father Effrem, rises every morning at 3:45 and prays for four hours to start the day. So I was very impressed in reading about the dedication of these priests. What would it be like if there were 350 priest exorcists here in the U.S.?

Suggestions

Here are some thoughts about the ministry of deliverance that we would like to share with you:

Possession

The first thing is that the Italian exorcists concentrate on “possession,” which they state is rare. (We agree with them on this.) What we find very common, and which we believe affects about one out of every three Christians, is being “infested” by a demon — a demonic presence within the person. (“To have a demon” is the usual New Testament term.) The Italian exorcists seem to run into this phenomenon often, but there seems to be very little systematic teaching on the subject.6 Yet, this is the area of people’s lives where there is the most real difficulty!

Who Can be an Exorcist?

Thank God for the increasing number of exorcists, but in the Catholic Church, the only ones appointed by bishops (when they are appointed at all) are priests. There are good reasons in wanting to protect people from self-appointed and unbalanced exorcists, but wouldn’t it make sense to delegate and train Christian counselors and psychiatrists in how to pray for deliverance, when necessary, at the end of their counseling sessions? Who knows more about the personal history and how to approach the causes of a client’s spiritual problems than the person who has been doing the hours of counseling, rather than calling someone in from outside and having to explain prayer needs at length.

Moreover, the early church believed that every Christian, by reason of the fact that he/she was a dwelling of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit was basically equipped to cast out evil spirits.7 It seems clear from this book on the Vatican’s exorcists that once a priest starts to answer the great pastoral need of God’s hurting people — whether they exaggerate the reality of curses or not — he will soon be overwhelmed by hordes of demanding clients and cannot do it all unless he has help. (The Italian exorcists do utilize laypeople in teams, but not as the ones who actually perform the exorcism prayer.)

The Types of Spirits

What we have found is that there are several well-defined categories of spirits, and it is important to find out who they are and even name them, because the way to get rid of them is different. What we call “occult spirits” are the most difficult and have gotten into the person through involvement in the occult. Most of what the Italian exorcists deal with are “occult spirits,” but the ones that we find are most common are “spirits of trauma.” About three-fourths of the evil spirits we encounter are “spirits of trauma” and the main way of freeing the person is through prayers of “inner healing.” In this book we are reviewing, there is no mention of inner healing — which is very different from the usual prayer of deliverance. Moreover, women seem to be especially gifted in praying for inner healing, and how is this to be incorporated in the usual exorcism model?

By the Book8

In addition, the priest exorcists seem bound by the Latin prayers in the official Latin Manual of Exorcism. There is little doubt that these ancient prayers are very powerful and the exorcist can’t go wrong in using them. In fact, some of the exorcists claim in the The Vatican Exorcists that Latin is the most effective language in which to pray and that demons have a fear of Latin. If you have to know Latin to pray for deliverance, how many exorcists can we provide?

We find that we need to improvise prayers (rather than read them from a book), especially fashioned for the kind of spirits with which we are dealing. How different it is in getting rid of a spirit of “Anti-Christ” (a spirit of the occult) and a “spirit of rejection” (a spirit of trauma). When an afflicted person has been suffering from rejection most of his/her life, made worse by a spirit of rejection, it seems unnecessarily cruel to shout out, “Be gone, damned spirit, into the Abbyss!”

If you have read about the actual case from which the novel and the movie, The Exorcist, was derived, you will admire the persistence of the Jesuits who performed the exorcism, but you get the impression that they just persisted in hammering away with the Latin words in the Manual and they always got a reaction, but in the end it was St. Michael himself who had to appear and drive out the occult demon.9

Everywhere we look, we see the need to learn more about how to pray for the demonically affected. We find an urgent pastoral need to discover compassionately how to minister to suffering people. We also need to find a way to incorporate psychiatry and psychological counseling together with the ministry of exorcism. They go together — a psychiatrist’s diagnosis of psychological problems is still seen in Catholic documents as an indication that the person doesn’t need exorcism – a perfect example of a non-sequitur: a person with psychological needs is more likely to also need deliverance – not less.

But I think that you get the picture.

We rejoice in the mighty, courageous work of the Italian exorcists in reawakening a belief in the reality of exorcism, but we still have a long way to go in making it an every day Christian reality. So, let us have courage and meet the challenge ahead of us!

(Footnotes)
1 By Tracy Wilkinson (Warner Books, New York, NY, 2007).
2 An Exorcist Tells His Story
3 Wilkinson, p. 47.
4 Op. cit., p.49.
5 Op. cit., p.121.
6 Chapter 4, “Should We Call it Possession?” in my book Deliverance from Evil Spirits (Chosen Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995).
7 Op. cit., Chapter 9, “Who Can Pray for Deliverance?”
8 Op. cit., Chapters 13-16.
9 See the fine, documented account in Possessed, by Thomas Allen (iUniverse.com, Inc., San Jose, 1994). The exorcism took place in St. Louis in 1949 and took more than 20 sessions.


Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jul/Aug 2007 Issue


Sharing of God's Miracles

by Anne Early
Jul/Aug 2007

The Holy Spirit was generous in a magnificent way at the joint conference of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service and Christian Healing Ministries, Inc., in Jacksonville, April 30th — May 5th! For many attendees that week long will be remembered as a time of great blessing. Since it is not possible to share all the wonderful testimonies that have been received, we hope the following account of multiple healings and gifts will give you a glimpse into the awesome work of the Spirit during those very special days. We thank Barry Clemson for letting us share with you.

“I was blessed during the conference with four miracles:  the healing of my shoulder, receiving the gift of tongues, restoration of hearing in one ear, and spiritual/inner healing.

“First: the healing of my right shoulder that was severely restricted in motion. For the last ten years, I had not been able to move my arm freely without considerable pain.  During Mike Evans’ talk, I went forward when he invited anyone in pain to come for healing. He then asked the other participants to lay their hands on each of us while he prayed. As hands were laid on us, Mike prayed for the group of us who were in pain. My shoulder was completely healed! Now I can do push-ups with no pain, and the range of motion is as great as ever.

“Second: at the end of the practicum Tuesday evening (a time when we received instruction in praying for healing), our practicum leader and four of the women prayed for me to receive the gift of tongues. I received this gift, and now I speak freely in tongues as the Spirit leads.

“Third: after 35 years of deafness in one ear, my hearing was restored. Thirty-five years ago I had a terrible fever that almost killed me, and it did destroy the nerves in my right ear. Thursday, I asked for healing in that ear, and after just a short prayer, I could hear again.

I did not realize the full extent of the miracle until the next morning. With only one ear there had been no sense of direction; it had been next to impossible for me to locate a voice in a crowd. When parts of the brain are unused for a long time, those parts get assigned to some other function. For 35 years, my brain had received no input to the section that determines where a sound is coming from. I had dared to hope that over years, or perhaps months, my brain might once again learn to sense directions. To my amazement during Friday worship, when people in various parts of that large crowd spoke, I immediately looked right at them.  I didn’t have to visually scan the crowd, trying to find the speakers; I simply looked right at them. The healing had fixed the nerves leading to the ear and recreated the proper neuron structures in the brain and retrained the brain to interpret the new inputs — all in just a couple of minutes. My scientific, rational mind keeps reminding me that all of this clearly is impossible. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to care about the impossibility of it all!

“Fourth and most wonderful of all was what happened to my heart. I am Pennsylvania Dutch (i.e. reserved, unemotional and stoical). Furthermore, that cultural syndrome has been reinforced in me by my training and career as a scientist. I am not (rather, was not) one to display emotion in public. Tuesday at noon I told the prayer ministers that my religion was mostly in my head and I wanted to move it to my heart. They prayed for my heart — as did Allan Panozza later. The Spirit worked on me all week, and by Friday morning I found myself running around kissing people. During the dancing Friday morning, one of the priests from India, a person I never had even met, was both dancing and blessing people at the same time. When he got to me, I grabbed him and planted a big kiss on his cheek, and kept on dancing. Then I ran over and kissed the women from our church. Finally, I kissed Allan Panozza on the podium in front of the entire crowd.

"Well! In my culture this is truly bizarre behavior. The Holy Spirit grew my heart about three sizes and there is no going back.

“I was inundated with miracles. I was crushed by miracles. I was reborn by miracles. I will never be the same again.”

Thank you, Holy Spirit! Thank you, Barry.

God also testified to it [salvation] by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will (Hebrews 2:4).


Jul/Aug 2007 Issue


A Transforming Leaders’ Retreat

by Mary Kleist
Jul/Aug 2007

CHM recently co-sponsored a School of Healing Prayer® for Leaders with the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS, the Catholic renewal office in Rome). The special six-day conference was held in downtown Jacksonville from April 30-May 5, with about 500 attending (when you add our staff and prayer ministers). Especially significant was that participants came from 42 countries, so that we provided translation into French, Spanish, and Italian. Nearly 30 priests attended. Barbara Shlemon was added to our team to give a moving talk on Mary and a mother’s blessing. From the beginning with Bishop Galeone’s opening Mass and homily until the end six days later, the conference exceeded all expectations, which were already very high. Here’s what attendees had to say following the conference:

“Excellent! Superb! I didn’t know I had so many burdens and hurts attached to me. The teachings were just what I needed to hear. There’s no other school like this — truly healing.”

“It felt like my wedding day! It was a renewal of sacred vows where through Jesus and the cross all is reconciled unto Him as one. Thank you God — thank you all of you!“

“I have been transformed, renewed and born again this week! I have been healed.”

“I was healed physically. My left lower back lumbar was hurting terribly; after prayers in the training it was completely gone!”

“Praise the Lord because He is good; His love is eternal! He made me to feel what heaven must be like. I received generational and inner healing and now feel like a new person.”

“This conference was everything and more than I could have expected. The teachings and the works of the Spirit will make a difference in my personal, family, and work life.”

“There is only one word to describe this conference and that is TRANSFORMATION!"

“The whole week was a little taste of heaven for me. The teaching was exceptional. The music was uplifting. The prayer ministry was so needed to free us up for our continued ministry.”

“It was inspiring to experience the unity of leaders from so many countries and the strength of leadership from Christian Healing Ministries, ICCRS and the National Service Committee. It gave me hope for the future of the renewal.”

“This conference was a spiritual retreat for me. An oasis that the Lord knew I needed. I received the healing the Lord knew I needed and He has now called me back to the front lines.”

“This conference clearly transformed me and changed my life so my overall evaluation is summed up by one word; Hallelujah!”

“The prayer ministry was gentle, powerful, and quite a blessing. I received some necessary healing from conception to early childhood.”

“I loved everything about it. It was over the top! I learned a lot. I was healed. I loved the people.”

“The teaching was very substantial and the topics were relevant. I actually learned NEW things!”

“My right shoulder has had restricted motion and considerable pain for the past 10 years. During Mike Evan’s talk and when participants laid their hands on me I was completely healed! I can now do pushups with no pain and complete motion has been restored.”

“I have never been one to show emotion in public and I have always carried my religion in my head and not my heart. The spirit worked on me all week and by Friday morning I found myself running around kissing people!”

“Every day I was in awe at the incredible work of the Holy Spirit working through mistakes, inadequacies, language, cultural and denominational barriers to bring much healing, deliverance, joy, and unity to those who were there.”

“I thank God so much for His goodness. He has confirmed to me this week that I am forgiven for my past sins — all of them!”


Jul/Aug 2007 Issue