A Healing Place

by Francis MacNutt
Jan/Feb 2008

You now know that we have taken the plunge and purchased beautiful land on the Trout River here in Jacksonville that has 20 build-able acres on which we hope to build a healing center. It is not just that we need more space for our increasing staff (18) and the large number of sick who come seeking Jesus’ healing touch. The deeper reason is that we desire a visible destination as a manifest sign that God still heals his sick children. We look forward to a day when, at the mention of the city of Jacksonville, people will immediately say, “Isn’t that where there is a healing center?”

Throughout my lifetime, I have known about the Catholic healing shrine of Lourdes, at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains in France. In 1975, I even had the chance to visit there for three days and see what happens there, as well as to talk with the head physician of the medical bureau there. (I just found out last week that there are 7,000 healing shrines in Europe.) Even at a time when the numbers of faithful are dwindling in Europe, Lourdes (since 1858) attracts growing numbers of pilgrims—up to 10,000 a day in the summer. The very last international trip (out of more than 100) that the late Pope John Paul II made was to Lourdes, when he was hardly able to hold his head up.

Now today, several dear Protestant friends are leaving for Lourdes, eager to join the pilgrims. These pilgrims march in procession, sing hymns, receive group blessings, and bathe in healing springs that come out of the mountain earth there. These pilgrims testify to a remarkable sense of God’s love there and many also testify to bodily healing. The beautiful place itself is a testimony to God’s love for the sick and his desire to heal his people.

That’s what we believe will happen at our new center—not that we expect to attract nearly as many people, but we believe God has called us to build a sign of his love for his people—a “city of refuge.”

There’s something deep in people that draws them to go on pilgrimages—it has been going on for thousands of years. “If you build it, they will come,” is how they put it in the movie Field of Dreams. Amazingly, people are now making pilgrimages to the farm in Iowa where Field of Dreams was filmed, even though the story was imaginary.

But our dream is real. If we pray, the sick will be healed.

And Jesus will show up.

And so, as we begin our building campaign, we ask you to join us.

Francis and Judith
With the Board and staff of CHM

headshot francis judith Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Judith MacNutt is a Founding Director and President of CHM. Jan/Feb 2008 Issue

God’s Surprising Love: A Testimony of Healing

by Cheryl Williams
Jan/Feb 2008

Who was surprised? I was. We ran into many obstacles as we prepared for the two-day soaking prayer event September 24-25. The difficulties seemed insurmountable, but staff and volunteers persevered to set a healing atmosphere for 35 people to come to our campus to receive soaking prayer. When we listened to testimonies at the end of the two days, we were overwhelmed by the way Jesus’ love penetrated so many hurting hearts during this time. In my position as practicum leader at the School of Healing Prayer®, I always remind students that Jesus ALWAYS shows up, but I was still VERY SURPRISED at the way He came to heal His people. Following is one dramatic testimony:

“When I arrived, I was in the depths of hell. I was depressed and struggling everyday to find a reason not to kill myself. Due to Satan’s hold on me, my daughter was also suffering and I had nothing within me to reach out to her. I was so hopeless that it was my priest and my dear friends who sent me here, because I was sure nothing could save me. God had rejected me, just as I deserved.

“I can say now, 'praise be to God,' because I am healed. I am loved, I am God’s child, and I am worth it. Jesus reached out his hand to me and I was able to take it.

“Thank you for loving me through Jesus’ healing – and giving me my life back!”

Cheryl Williams Cheryl Williams is a former CHM staff member. She continues to teach at CHM's schools and is an active prayer minister. Jan/Feb 2008 Issue

New Year... Same Resolution

by Linda Strickland
Jan/Feb 2008

"Dear friends, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 1:2)

My sister Sandra’s husband, Robbie, died last year: he was only 57 years old. He fought through a series of health issues that were a part of his long struggle with diabetes, the last of which was a kidney transplant. We thought he had the battle won, but, several weeks after the transplant, his heart stopped.

It was not the news of his diabetes or his transplant, or even his death, that convicted me. It was, rather, at his funeral that I received the conviction - the same conviction I have struggled with for most of my life.

Like most good southern women do, the ladies at the church where Robbie’s funeral took place prepared a wonderful meal for the family. After the service, we all proceeded into the parish hall to dine on the delectable offerings lovingly prepared by the hands of these sweet Christian women. I filled my plate with such delicacies as fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and various vegetables, all seasoned well with the other white meat. To top it off, I also included a good portion of my Aunt Margaret’s famous layered pudding dessert with whipped cream. As I looked at my plate with a little guilt, I quickly reminded myself that I had skipped breakfast and I had a long trip back to Jacksonville that afternoon.

With plate in hand, I found a seat with my other sister, Joy, and her husband Dave, along with their two boys. I don’t get to see them very often, so I was anticipating a nice visit over lunch. As I sat down, I noticed that Dave’s plate had only fresh fruit salad on it. I knew he was a vegetarian, so I commented that surely there was more he could find to eat on the buffet than just fruit.

Now, Dave has always been a little uncomfortable with my family and seems to follow a different set of rules and morals. He’s a perfectly nice guy, but we all know what he thinks of us, our church and our Christian views.

I’ll never forget his comment back to me following my question concerning his “fruit salad only” lunch. He said, “You know, I just got finished listening to people applaud Robbie for never smoking or drinking, and then we come out here to a table with mostly ‘junk for your body’ food. I only have one question: what’s the difference?”

Now here is a man who sees Christians as hypocrites and people who have their values confused. I had to admit, I could see his point: my reply was that I agreed with him and there was no difference. I suddenly saw a man who had a very valid reason for not wanting to be like us. On this particular topic, we are hypocrites and we do have our values confused.

I actually had a hard time enjoying my plate of food that day, and the conviction lasted for a good week – maybe two. Then, as always, I slipped back into my old habits.

Every New Year, as I ponder what resolutions to make, I am met with the same disappointment in myself. Although I am a beautiful woman of God who is living a life in close relationship with Him, I struggle with getting a grip on consistently eating right and exercising.

Recently, I missed a trip with Judith because of a knee problem. The doctor informed me that I will probably need a complete knee replacement within 10 years. All I could think was “are you kidding me?” Yet here’s the truth: my poor attempt at a healthy lifestyle has contributed to the osteoarthritis in my knee. Francis calls it “the used car syndrome.” Generally speaking, people are only interested in used cars if they are in mint condition; cars that have been lovingly taken care of and have a good blue book value. Quite frankly, I’m a little worried about my blue book value these days.

All of this has led me to an even bigger conviction: if we are called to represent the healing power of Jesus Christ to a sick and dying world, then we need to lead by example.

At Christian Healing Ministries, we have begun this effort by taking most of the sugary pastries off of the table at our Schools. We now offer alternative choices of fresh fruit and healthy snacks.

I wonder what would happen if all churches would make a “mostly healthy food” policy for coffee hour and covered dish dinners. It would be tough – I mean, I personally own no less than a dozen cookbooks put together by wonderful Christian ladies groups and churches. I have even contributed to several of them myself, and they are great recipes! All full of flavor…and sugar, and fat.

I am not suggesting that we completely eliminate and never enjoy these wonderful foods. I am merely saying that, at least for my weak flesh, this indulgence should be the exception and not the rule.

Now, I know I have taken the giant leap into meddling at this point, but I’m worried about us. I’m worried by the fact that (we) Christians are statistically as unhealthy and obese as the rest of the world.

In this New Year, I am once again making a commitment to take better care of myself. This includes eating better. Maybe the fear of a knee replacement will help, but what I think is going to help the most is the way I am now praying about it.

Recently, this topic came up in class during our School of Healing Prayer® here at CHM. Judith suggested that, if you struggle with your appetite, ask for Jesus’ appetite. What a great idea! This inspired me to ask for more than just His appetite for food. It is my heart's desire to have Jesus’ perfect appetite for everything - especially His appetite for His Father.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” Matthew 5:6 (The Message)

May God bless you and keep you in this New Year!

Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is the Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. Jan/Feb 2008 Issue

Baptized in the Spirit During the Renaissance

by Francis MacNutt
Jan/Feb 2008

Way back when I was younger and studying in the seminary, I realized that I tended to be too serious. Then I discovered a Saint who seemed to be the perfect model for how I might change. His name was St. Philip Neri, and he lived in Rome where he became famous for his union with Jesus. He was also a famous joker who tried to hide his holiness by making people laugh at him. He attracted people to him by the force of his delightful personality and then he drew his followers to Jesus. In a time of great difficulty for the Catholic Church—during the Renaissance, with the worldly materialistic model of many popes (Savonarola was burned during Philip’s lifetime)—Philip even started a new religious order (the Oratory), which later numbered the famous Cardinal Newman among its members in England. To me in the 1950s, Philip was like a breath of fresh air and a ray of sunshine.

What especially stands out about Philip’s life is something I have been realizing more and more in recent years: that God has touched people with the power of the Spirit in every age and in every culture. It is as if Jesus has been trying to reach us to show us how he really intended to transform us and what the Gospel is really all about; but, by and large, we seem to be blind to what God desires for all of us, and we pass on without recognizing the “pearl of great price.”

In one of my recent talks, I mentioned Philip and his balancing influence on my life. As a result, one of the kind listeners has sent me a copy of a biography of St. Philip.1 I started to read this life of St. Philip and was delighted to discover that he had experienced the Baptism in the Holy Spirit after praying that the Spirit would pour out his gifts upon him. When he was young, he used to spend days praying in the catacombs of St. Sebastian’s on the Appian Way. Here is how the book describes his remarkable experience:

In the catacombs of St. Sebastian something happened that can rightly be called Philip’s ‘Pentecost.’  It was a kind of invasion of the Divine into his life.  It is recorded here because with this event the years of waiting and of solitude reached their culmination.

What, then, happened in the catacombs in 1544?

Philip was in a small room of the catacomb, where today an altar and his picture serve as memorials to the event, and was praying with special devotion to the Holy Spirit shortly before Pentecost, as Gallonio, his first biographer, tells us: ‘It was habitual with Philip to pray each day to the Holy Spirit, and with great humility to ask Him for His gifts and graces.’ As he was thus praying again with great devotion one day in 1544, ‘he suddenly felt himself divinely filled with the power of the Spirit with such force that his heart began to palpitate within his body and to be inflamed with such love that, his nature being unaccustomed to such a palpitation of the heart, he indicated that he was completely unable to bear it’...

Philip saw a ball of fire enter into his mouth and then felt his breast expand over his heart. The sensation of inner fire was so strong that Philip threw himself onto the ground and cried out, ‘Enough, Lord, enough! I cannot take any more!…His prayer was full of love; …but he was imploring more and greater love.’ This prayer was heard: ‘The love of God overflowed from his soul upon his body; his blood coursed so rapidly through his veins that his countenance was all lighted up and flushed; his eyes, his cheeks, his forehead, all beamed with a ruddy … glow.’ This experience of God’s love gave Philip an unbounded joy, ‘a gladness all of divine love.’2

The church historian Ludwig Pastor writes that this Pentecostal event in 1544 remained with him all his life and can be compared to the stigmata of St. Francis.

From that time on, whenever he would pray he would tremble to such an extraordinary extent that, when he was celebrating Mass, he was afraid that he would knock the chalice over and he would have to steady himself by leaning on the altar. He could only calm down this shaking by thinking about ordinary, mundane things.

He was also filled with extraordinary heat and, in the middle of winter, would have to leave his cassock unbuttoned. His heart also radiated an amazing amount of heat, and after he died the physicians found that his ribs were protruding because they had been broken and were separated from the cartilage. The physician believed that this was God’s providence that enabled his heart to beat so strongly and not be caged in, as it were, so that the heart was not injured by its violent beating and he was enabled to live a long life (1515-1595).

All of this bears out my belief – which I try to convey in my book The Healing Reawakening – that God, over the centuries, has continually tried to show us the need for all of us, in one way or the other, to experience the Baptism in the Spirit and the charisms of the Spirit (such as healing). Cleverly, people have evaded the challenge by saying something like, “Well, I’m no saint,” but the clear message of the Gospel is that, while some experience more extraordinary phenomena than others, the promise of John the Baptist still holds true: “Jesus is the one who will baptize you in the Spirit” (e.g. Mk. 1:8).

For Catholics, Philip Neri is a canonized saint who explicitly describes what we would call the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” and claims that his life was dramatically transformed from that moment on. Not that he wasn’t a Christian before then, but Pentecost, 1544, was the basis and heart of his ministry!

1 Philip Neri, The Fire of Joy by Paul Türks, of the Oratory. Alba House, Staten Isl., NY 1995.
2 Ibid., p. 16-17.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jan/Feb 2008 Issue