Healing Line

Healing Line

An AARP Survey on Healing Prayer

summarized by Francis MacNutt
May/Jun 2009

One of the signs of a growing mainstream belief in miracles is a survey sponsored by the American Association of Retired People which appeared in AARP, “the world’s largest circulation magazine.” The authors begin by mentioning that Thomas Jefferson did not believe in Christian healing or anything “supernatural” at all; he had snipped out all these references from his cut–and–paste Bible. He rewrote the New Testament and titled it “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” (No miracles, just teaching.)

Today there is still an intellectual struggle between agnostics like Jefferson and those Christians who believe in miracles defined as “an incredible event that cannot be scientifically explained.” In the survey the AARP asked 1300 people, 45 and over, what they thought. The results were amazing as they found out that 80% said they believe in miracles; 41% said they happen every day, and 37% said they have actually witnessed one.*

Of these respondents, 84% say that God is their cause, and about three quarters further identify Jesus and the Holy Spirit as causes. Angels (47%) and saints (32%) are also given a role in these miracles. The Judeo–Christian concept of a personal God reaching out “overwhelmingly dominates the American spiritual landscape.” Virtually absent is the Hindu belief in a universal energy that blesses people.

Since we are looking forward to building a healing center, one of the findings that is specially encouraging to us is that 38% said that they would travel to a healing site like Lourdes, in France, and 6% have actually made such a trip to Europe. There are very few places in the U.S. where people can go to receive healing prayer, and they are not well–known. In the words of the movie, Field of Dreams, we think that if we “build it, they will come”!

Surprisingly, 71% with a college or post–graduate degree believe in miracles. Moreover, the more money you make, the less likely you are to believe: 78% of those making $75,000 or more believe, while 86% of those making $25,000 or less believe. Both these percentages are much larger than I would expect!

Women seem to be especially spiritually gifted, and 85% of them believe in miracles, compared with only 73% of men.

Not all the miracles described in AARP are physical healings, but some are surprising answers to other dramatic crises in life with no human way out — such as being in debt and then having the money show up in the exact amount in apparently impossible ways (this has happened to us several times). In spite of the somewhat loose usage of the word “miracle,” this article is an inspiring testimony to the belief that many Americans still have in the active compassion of God.

We agree totally with one commentator (Father Jonathan Morris) who writes that “when people say, ‘This is a miracle’, they’re not saying ‘God broke the laws of nature to give me this blessing;’ … they’re saying, ‘God cares about me so much that he allowed this to happen!’”

*All of this article is based on pp. 50ff. in the Jan.–Feb., 2009, issue of AARP.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. May/Jun 2009 Issue

A Gentle Whisper

by Linda Strickland
May/Jun 2009

Judith recently spoke at a conference where the hand of God moved in such a mighty way that you couldn’t help but stand in awe; a true mountaintop experience. After arriving home, I received a phone call from a young woman who had attended the conference, and she told me that although many of her friends had experienced the Holy Spirit in a dramatic and powerful way, she had not. She had come to the conference worn out and hungry for God, and when she did not get the experience she had hoped for, she went home feeling a little cheated. She said that she really loved the conference; she had laughed a lot, cried a lot and had a great time with her friends — but she had not gotten what she came for: an electrifying experience with Jesus. However, the next morning, in the quiet of her bedroom, the Holy Spirit fell on her and gently ministered to her. It was not when, where, how or what she had expected — but it was exactly what she needed.

As we spoke, I told her the story of Elijah. Afraid, exhausted and on the run for his life, Elijah ended up in the desert crying out to God. After an angel had given him a nap, a sandwich and something to drink, he was able to hear the Lord say:

“Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” 1Kings 19:11–12

Rather than speaking to Elijah in a grand, mind–blowing way, I can’t help but think that God chose to come in a gentle whisper because Elijah had, quite frankly, already had his fair share of whirlwind activity. What Elijah needed was a little peace and quiet so that he could recognize God’s voice — and after that, hear and receive God’s instruction.

This is the way it was for me when I met The Holy Spirit for the first time.

It was 1990 and my husband and I had recently reconciled after a lengthy separation in our marriage. I was emotionally exhausted from just trying to survive in what had been a very difficult time in my life. In addition, I was physically sick from a disease that had gripped my spine, causing a very weak and painful back condition.

One Wednesday evening, during a healing prayer service at our church, I went to the altar to be prayed for. At that particular time, my back pain was so unmanageable that I was feeling desperate. As I knelt down, two gentle prayer ministers, along with our priest, asked me what I wanted Jesus to do for me. I thought, “Wow, I can ask Him for anything?” I remember thinking to myself “What I really need is to know that Jesus is real, and that He has not forgotten me.” But instead of saying what I was thinking, I simply asked them to pray for my back.

Within a few minutes of quiet prayer, I began to feel very warm…bordering on hot. As time seemed to stand still, I found myself immersed in a peace I had never experienced before. I became less and less conscious of the sweet people who lovingly surrounded me, and I became more and more aware of the divine and powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. My whole body heated up to the point, I found out later, the prayer ministers could no longer touch me.

When I was finally able, I opened my eyes to the surprised look of my prayer ministers' faces. They just stood there and stared at me. From head to toe I was completely drenched…as if I had jumped into a pool — clothes and all. There had been no rushing wind, or earthquake, or even fire….but my appearance indicated that I had been in all three. In those few minutes, I had knelt in the very presence of Almighty God and was completely transformed. It was gentle, it was quiet, it was sweet — and at the same time it was the most powerful thing I have ever experienced.

Although I was not healed of my disease that night, I was healed of other things which dramatically changed my life; particularly unforgiveness toward my husband. Since he and I reunited, I had not fully engaged in the marriage. I was hurt, resentful and not ready to stop punishing him. That night, everything changed — especially me! Transformed seems too small a word to describe what happened to me, and I have never been the same.

I find it interesting that Jesus often chooses to come to people in this quiet, gentle way. I also find it interesting that Jesus chose to come to earth at the time and location he did. Jesus could have dropped into this century where he would have had an opportunity to get his message out through a sophisticated media, with sound studios, cameras, and the internet. But Jesus chose a very small country at a very primitive time to come into this world. I can’t help but believe that he did this because he values the one–on–one connection, and he yearns for a personal relationship with each and every one of us. After all, this is what we were created for.

Although I love large group experiences and believe these special times of corporate worship and prayer are essential in our Christian walk, I have found that amazing things can happen in quiet, intimate moments as well. So next time you are tempted to only chase God through the ‘big experience’ of a revival or conference, stop for a moment — right where you are, and listen for His gentle whisper. You just might find Him!

Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is the Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. May/Jun 2009 Issue

The Word of Their Testimony...

testimonies gathered to encourage the Body of Christ
May/Jun 2009

A Letter from Skip

Dear Francis and Judith and team,

My wife and my sister, as well as myself, attended the Journey to Healing retreat [back in January]. We were abundantly blessed in many ways.

To begin with, my personal ‘journey to healing’ started about 37 years ago at age 19 when I was baptized in the Spirit. In fact, back in the early 1970’s I had the privilege of attending a retreat in Staten Island, NY that Francis and Ruth Stapleton led, among others. That was a great weekend, but it bothered me that I had to wait in line to have Francis pray for me. However, as my time came to go in for prayer the line was stopped. But now, 37 years later I was finally blessed to make this retreat at CHM and also to be prayed over by Francis!

Like many young men emerging out of the seventies, I carried some burdens associated with drugs, alcohol, and sex and tried to understand my behavior. As Paul describes my condition: “I do the very things I hate….who will deliver me from this wretched state?” (Romans 7) This was my own inner cry to the Lord for many years despite being immersed in prayer groups, leading music ministries and taking part in healing teams. I carried that famous “God shaped wound,” aching for the Father’s love (and my own father’s love).

The Lord did a lot for me in those 37 years; He blessed me with a wonderful wife, six children and much grace to lead me to much personal transformation, repentance and healing. Over those years I read every Agnes Sanford book around, attended retreats (including a glorious weekend with Tommy Tyson) and sought the Lord’s heart in healing prayer. My wife and I (both Registered nurses) sought to bring His healing love to our profession and to those suffering whenever we could. For a few years we were part of a covenant community that spent more time on legalism and control than in ministering the gospel. Thankfully we were not as damaged as many folks were. Nevertheless, it made us gun shy of “renewal groups.”

This past November I came to CHM for a day of healing prayer and a generational Eucharist, and I walked away freed on a deep level. Significant bonds of generational sin were freed during this day of prayer and the Lord Himself restored my healing journey. I had a beautiful experience when Fr. Gene and Sara prayed with me; Gene spoke as a Dad would and (it happened to be my actual birthday that day) reached the deep regions of my heart in a way I have never before experienced.

As a professional healthcare provider, with many years of psychiatric nursing under my belt, I think I would know a good olfactory hallucination if I had one, but during the soaking prayer time in the chapel, I believe I truly experienced smelling a rose–like fragrance that didn’t come from any person there.

This “day of healing prayer” stirred my thirst for more of a deeper and on–going ministry, and so I decided to go on this last retreat. I knew that Jesus called me to this retreat as the first scripture I ever read after being baptized in the Spirit was Matthew 11:28. When I saw that the theme of the retreat was this text I knew His call and hand was upon me to attend.

The overwhelming source of grace seemed to be the unconditional love that was palpable in the air, in the team, and which passed through them in the laying on of hands. During my personal prayer appointment I received the grace to forgive an old injury that I had previously thought I would just have to carry for my entire life. During one of the praise times as we were singing I heard the Lord repeat His own invitation (from Matt 11:28) “Come to me all you who are willing to allow me to do my work in you and I will heal you.”

I could write many pages about the graces I am beginning to see unfold, and so I just want to take a moment to personally thank Francis and Judith for responding to Jesus and being instruments of his healing grace. Thank you to the whole team as well!

May Our Lord Jesus continue to pour out His healing grace on each of you at CHM!

A Businessman’s Testimony

Over the years we have not only learned about God’s love for us manifested in healing prayer but also from time to time, God helps in mundane areas such as finances. When we at CHM were low on finances, our dear friend Tommy Tyson would ask, “How much do you need by Friday?” Then he would pray for that exact amount, and it would always come in!

Now in this time of economic crisis, our dear friend and member of our National Advisory Board, Art Thomson, from La Jolla, CA, told me a remarkable testimony about how the Spirit inspired him before the crisis hit to sell all his stocks – and he did. I asked him to write the story up, and here it is. It’s especially amazing if you know Art, who is as steady as any non–impressionable businessman can be (he is a retired hotel manager)!

“Early in the morning of July 11, 2008 (7/11) I was awakened with a very definite direction of what I was to do. This was neither a dream nor a vision, nor was it verbalized but rather a very strong sense that I was to sell all our stock. The greater part of our retirement funds were invested in the stock market and had performed well for us up to that time.

I listened to what we believe was divine intervention and got up early before the market opened, called our stockbroker and sold everything. Had I relied on my own knowledge as to what to sell and what to keep, I would have made terrible mistakes: the first was Fannie Mae, which lost 95% of its value; another, Lehman Brothers, went into bankruptcy and is worthless; and Barclays Bank (of England) lost 50% of its worth. Our other stock had similar fates.

There is no doubt in our minds that the Divine was protecting and guiding us. Whether it was God or one of His guardian angels who intervened, we give Him all the honor and glory.”

A Letter from Bob Kerner

Francis recently received a letter from Rev. Bob Kerner, who, with his wife Rev. Sandi Kerner, was a member of our CHM staff. They are now Episcopal priests in the Richmond, Virginia, area. In his letter he shared several significant testimonies:

“When I was a young deacon, the first person I ever prayed for was dramatically and instantly healed from terminal leukemia. The results of her tests were sent by her physician to the AMA as a demonstration of the efficacy of healing prayer, and her agnostic specialist was ultimately converted to Christianity as a result of this healing. That got my attention!

“On Cursillo weekends we have seen many profound results. For instance, a priest was healed of progressive, congenital, inoperable eye disease. He was expected to ultimately lose his sight, but he was healed totally. To this day, his sight is perfectly restored. He doesn’t even need glasses!

“Another instance occurred when a team member had a terrible migraine headache. During the team Eucharist, when she received the consecrated bread and wine, she was healed instantly of the migraine. No one ever prayed specifically for this healing, except her. The migraines have never recurred in her life.”

May/Jun 2009 Issue

News from the Developement Office

by Mike Simon
May/Jun 2009

Isn’t it wonderful that God hears our prayers and answers them? Imagine if you and everyone receiving this newsletter wrote down how God has answered their prayers in the last five years. We could easily fill several books, and what a testimony that would be! How true are the words of Matthew 7:7–8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened.”

I just want to update you on our progress in planning to build a new center.

As you know, we have completed the first steps by procuring the 60 beautiful acres of land near the Jacksonville airport. The next major step is getting an architect to render visible plans.

In the meantime, we are building the infrastructure we need by establishing a Development Team, of which I am part. A major change for us has been that a member of our Board, Bryan and Page Simpson, has given us, for two years, a beautiful office space, separate from the CHM campus where our staff offices are located. The new office is in an excellent location in Ponte Vedra Beach, so the development group can easily meet together every day. Another valuable gift that has been donated to the new office is office furniture, given to us by Jay McGarvey.

The Board of Directors of CHM has been diligently planning to enhance the business side of the ministry by establishing the Development Office which is to be known as the Christian Healing Ministries Foundation. The Foundation will focus on the donor support that is needed to build the new center.

This is an exciting time to be part of the Development Team that will be an essential part of Christian Healing Ministries. As our country waits for good news concerning the economy, large numbers of the sick continue to contact CHM for prayer. We rejoice at God’s faithfulness in answering our prayers and in seeing the faithfulness of those who support CHM’s ministry.

Mike Simon Mike Simon is the Director of Development for CHM. May/Jun 2009 Issue