Healing Line

Healing Line

A Physician Sees a Miracle

by Francis MacNutt
Sep/Oct 2010

I have just finished reading a book which made a deep impression on me when I first read it many years ago. It’s titled A Journey to Lourdes (1950) by Dr. Alexis Carrel1. Dr. Carrel was a famous physician who had won the Nobel Prize in medicine and also gained wide recognition in his treatment of the wounded in World War I.

Dr. Carrel prided himself on being “a tolerant skeptic.” Upon hearing about the renowned healing shrine of Lourdes, he decided that it was a cruel deception to lead the sick to hope that they could be healed. He decided to travel to Lourdes in 1903 to examine the facts for himself and expose the deception2.

In Paris he boarded a train bound for the Pyrenees Mountains, where Lourdes is located. The train was filled with sick and suffering patients, also headed for Lourdes, who were continuously being bounced around in the crowded railway cars on the grueling, bumpy journey.

In the railway car where Dr. Carrel had accommodations, he began getting pleas for morphine injections for those who were desperately ill. He ultimately ended up in a compartment where he met Marie Ferrand, a young woman who he was certain had only a few days left before she died of tubercular peritonitis. He carefully examined her and found that her abdomen was distended and she had various palpable growths in her stomach.

After they arrived in Lourdes, Dr. Carrel was asked to continue the morphine injections to alleviate her pain. He decided to stay with her at Lourdes to observe what happened.

“What about those who hope for a cure and suffer the miseries of the long journey in vain?” he asked.

He noticed, however, to his surprise that there was an atmosphere of gaiety, not sadness, among the pilgrims.

At one point Marie Ferrand slipped into a coma. Her pulse raced to an elevated 150, and again he had to deal with her pain by injecting her with laudanum and morphine, which made her feel better. During all the prayers and ceremonies, Dr. Carrel remained near her. He was sure she was close to death.

He also observed several patients that he judged were “neurasthenic” and were healed by the power of suggestion. He believed that it was his duty to guard against being deceived, and all the healing he was hearing about he ascribed to “pious propaganda.” He was convinced that real organic diseases could not be cured supernaturally.

He jokingly told a friend of his that if Marie Ferrand was actually healed, he “would become a monk.”

“If that girl is cured, I’ll accept anything.”

But Marie Ferrand was sinking fast. Her heart was giving out. Her ears and nose were turning greenish in hue. As he saw it, Marie was about to die without ever having lived. And yet, in all these tragic pilgrims he saw an unusual peace. He became filled with a longing to believe. He even began to pray for Marie.

Later, Dr. Carrel met an old friend and asked if he had seen any cures. He responded that “a few of the hysterical cases had recovered,” but nothing unusual.

At this point in the early afternoon, Marie Ferrand truly seemed near death. Suddenly, Dr. Carrel noticed that there was a slight improvement in her condition and her respiration had slowed. She continued to change gradually, and her improvement was undeniable.

Then, amazingly, Marie Ferrand’s abdomen started to flatten out. “Her eyes, so dim before, were now wide with ecstasy.” In a few minutes there was no longer any distension in her abdomen. Dr. Carrel “felt as though he were going mad.” He asked Marie how she was feeling and she said that, although she was feeling weak, she thought she had been completely cured.

“I think I can even walk,” she said.

The change was overwhelming. Carrel took her pulse and it was now a regular 80! He examined her carefully and found that the hard masses he had felt before had vanished like a bad dream.

Marie Ferrand was cured, except for her weakness and emaciation. It was the most momentous thing he had ever seen! She was radiant and Dr. Carrel had no explanation to offer. All he had ever believed was being turned upside down. He had seen so many cases of tubercular peritonitis that he was sure of his diagnosis.

He decided that this new, astounding phenomenon should be studied from every possible angle. He was embarrassed at being involved in a miracle, but he was honest enough to want to do his best to bring the healing he had witnessed to the attention of the scientific community. He was sure that a medical miracle had taken place, and so he decided to write it up.

But he was still too embarrassed, as a Nobel Prize winner, to put his real name on the medical report. So he wrote the report under the pseudonym “Dr. Lerrac,” which is “Carrel” spelled backward. His widow published this account of the miraculous healing of Marie Ferrand (her actual name was Marie Bailly) in 1950 under the title, A Journey to Lourdes, under his real name Alexis Carrel.

When I first read this book, around 1960, I was deeply impressed, and it prepared me to be open to the whole possibility of “supernatural” healing before it became popular in Catholic circles.

Just as Carrel was drawn to Lourdes because it was a place, a visible sign in France, signifying that some Christians believed that Jesus was still in the business of healing the sick, we too hope that sometime in the near future, our new healing center will become known as a holy place, a “city of refuge,” where the sick and desolate will come on pilgrimage to seek healing.

And, above all, to seek and find God!

1Dr. Alexis Carrel, A Journey to Lourdes, by Anne Carrel, Hamish Hamilton, Ltd., 1950.

2 Lourdes started as a healing shrine in 1858 after the peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous had a vision of Mary in a grotto in Lourdes in the Pyrenees. It soon became famous among Catholics as a place where healing took place and pilgrims by the thousands go there seeking healing.


Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Sep/Oct 2010


A Personal Look at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

by Linda Strickland
Sep/Oct 2010

On February 8, 2010 I was in a near fatal car accident. As I was entering an intersection, a young man driving an SUV ran the red light and crashed full speed into the driver’s side door of my van. According to the police officers and fire and rescue, it is a miracle that I was not killed.

I was injured in several ways that day, not the least of which was a deep level of emotional and mental trauma. I suffered, and am still dealing with, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I cried for a solid week following the accident, to the point that my eyes were so swollen I could barely see. Completely out of my control, my mind kept replaying the accident over and over. I would try to stop it, but no matter what I did, I could not shut off the horror movie playing in my head.

In ministry I have talked with many people who were experiencing what I perceived to be irrational fear, and I always wondered why they could not get control of it. But what I have discovered through my own personal experience is that the fear that grips someone suffering with PTSD is very real.

I remember the first time I drove a car after the accident. I was driving home from work, and about half way home I became so overwhelmed with fear that I had to pull over into a parking lot. I just sat there, sobbing, for about five minutes. I thought I was going to have to call my husband to come and get me, but I finally got some courage, pulled back onto the road, and inched my way home. I felt ridiculous!

Unhealed trauma is the root cause of so much of the pain and suffering we see every day here at Christian Healing Ministries. And the unexpressed emotions that sometimes get buried with the memories can keep people in bondage for years, and in some cases, a lifetime.

In addition to untimely accidents, there are many other circumstances people are forced to endure in their lives that can cause PTSD.

For example, last year Judith and I went to Alaska for a healing conference, and we had the opportunity to minister to a beautiful native Alaskan woman who had lived in the bush area of Alaska her whole life. (This is the area that is only reachable by air). As we began ministering to her, she quietly whispered, “Incest.” Although it was a heartbreaking confession we were not surprised, as the conference leadership team had told us that 95% of women living in the bush areas are sexually abused.

As we began praying, this dear woman bent over and began sobbing. And then without warning she suddenly rose up and screamed at the top of her lungs. I have heard Judith say that buried emotions will often come out screaming, but to witness it firsthand was chilling. It was as though all of the pain she had carried her whole life was released through that one single scream.

Another example of PTSD is what our military men and women go through after returning home from serving active duty in places where they have witnessed violence and death. The experience can be so traumatizing that they don’t even realize just how affected they are until something stirs it up.

Our friend, and National Advisory Board member, Fr. Nigel Mumford, of Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich, NY, has a powerful ministry that ministers to these courageous soldiers. (According to statistics, one out of seven soldiers returning from battle is struggling with some form of PTSD). Fr. Nigel’s ministry, The Welcome Home Initiative, is serving our returning men and women in ways that our government has yet to figure out.

Here at CHM we also realize how essential it is that we know how to minister to those suffering from PTSD. So to meet this need we are now training prayer ministers through our School of Healing Prayer (Level IV) with two in-depth teachings on this topic, presented by professional experts in the field.

During my own journey to healing, my favorite way to receive ministry for PTSD has been through soaking prayer, mainly because of its gentleness. Soaking prayer is an intentional time set apart to simply rest in God’s presence. It involves either sitting or lying in stillness, relaxed and inwardly turning toward Jesus. Initially it may take time for your mind and spirit to clear of responsibilities and concerns, and to let go of the habit of coming before God in petition for others. But truly resting in His presence fulfills the purpose of soaking prayer, which is to give God an opportunity to minister to you directly.

I have also received healing through medical professionals. Although the healing prayer has been very beneficial, I believe that the combination of prayer and medical attention has been the reason my healing process is going so well. I thank God for the highly skilled doctors who have been taking such wonderful care of me.

Although I had previously ministered to people with PTSD, I must admit that I never fully understood it before now. The Lord always gives me great compassion for people I am praying with, but this new personal experience has taken my understanding and compassion to a whole new level.

I have a friend who likened PTSD to a bell being rung. At first the vibrations are strong, but over time the vibrations weaken and will eventually stop. Based on my personal experience I can say that this is a very accurate description, though for some people this process can take a long time.

I am so thankful that we have a God who is always concerned about us, so much so that He reminds us over and over just how much He cares.

“I am the Lord your God. I am holding your hand, so don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” Isaiah 41:13

* For more information about The Welcome Home Initiative you can contact Sandra at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center, Greenwich, NY at 518-692-9550 ext. 202 or www.christ-the-king-center.org.

Also, Fr. Nigel Mumford’s book Post Trauma Healing will be released in April 2011.


Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is CHM's Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. Sep/Oct 2010


My Journey to CHM

by Leslie Royalty
Sep/Oct 2010

Here at CHM, with many people briefly coming and going from out of town, we consider it a true privilege to observe a person’s transformation over time. One such woman is a local friend who has recently become involved with CHM, attending different ministry opportunities over the past few months. In particular, she has come fairly consistently to our Tuesday Open Prayer, where people receive approximately 30 minutes of prayer, no appointment necessary, and God brings powerful healing! Although it’s impossible to completely explain all the wonders that God has done, she has graciously agreed to share glimpses into her journey of healing. It’s our prayer that her story brings you great encouragement.

 

My journey to CHM coincided with my journey to Christ. It really began 5 years ago, with the death of my parents in April 2005. My father died on the 3rd, my mother on the 23rd. I was very close with them, and while their deaths were not unexpected, the suddenness and closeness of their deaths left us reeling from the loss. In response, my husband and I agreed that we must re-focus our lives and have God be the center. Up to this point, we had never worshiped together, nor had we professed to each other or anyone else a belief in Jesus Christ. What we had done was conveniently dance around our beliefs, being very reluctant to commit and pursue a relationship with our Lord. In addition to feeling very wounded by our recent loss, we both carried the baggage of beliefs (or lack thereof) over the last 35+ years.

We each began a spiritual journey, which, in hindsight, required us to “bottom out” before we could begin to be lifted up. I had several different jobs, including buying and selling a business for a tremendous loss. Each one was a bigger disaster than the previous. I was falling apart. I detested who I was as a wife and mother. Days would pass where I would do nothing. Depression and desperation were gaining a stronghold over me. Every word out of my mouth was negative, not only towards me, but also to my loved ones. As a friend recently said to me, I made it easy for Satan, never putting up a fight and inviting him in with each breath I took. I was still being controlled by persistent grief and other emotions- the only thing that was clear was that God wanted me and I began to listen.

One particularly bad day, I found myself at Mass – a friend saw how desperate I was and told me to stay afterwards for prayer. I agreed, not knowing what else to do with myself. My friend arranged for Catherine (a CHM prayer minister) and two sisters to pray over me. I sat there, not knowing what to expect, but eager for something to happen. Catherine laid her hand on me and asked me what I wanted Jesus to do for me today. I was dumbfounded. I could ask Jesus to do something for me? I could ask him to take this pain away? I contemplated for a moment and responded that I wanted him to take the anger and fear from me. They prayed over me for what seemed like an instant, but actually lasted for over an hour. Catherine prayed in tongues; I was amazed that I could understand what she was saying. That first prayer relieved me of so much physical stress and anxiety, yet I knew that it was only the beginning.

I shared my experience with my wonderfully supportive group of friends God has given us. Of these friends, a couple had been attending prayer sessions at CHM and suggested that I join them one Tuesday evening for prayer at CHM. Although eager, I was also quite nervous and a bit scared. God compelled me to move forward, but agreeing to let go of my comfortable relationship with my demons meant accepting Him into my heart and changing my ways.

That first Tuesday at CHM was monumental. I was fortunate to have three prayer ministers. I know now that each one was there for a purpose. I briefly told them my story, surprised at how much pain and anger was spewing from my mouth. Norman, one of my prayer ministers, looked at me and asked if I was ready to forgive and ask for forgiveness. How could I possibly do this? We bantered back and forth; with each word he spoke, I knew it was God telling me that I must do this to move forward. I agreed with much reluctance. They guided me through a forgiveness and deliverance prayer. It was terribly painful. I actually fought it, both emotionally and physically. It was as if I was not in control of my body. I resisted each and every time he told me to speak the words. As we came to the end of the third part of the prayer, I experienced a physical release, and felt my body going limp. The tears flowed and I knew that there was no going back on this journey to healing. At the end of our session, Bettie looked at me, and said that Jesus wanted me to know that “I have a sound mind.” What a blessing this was. I had truly begun to believe that I was going crazy – what other explanation could there be for my behavior? As we were concluding, I noticed I was continually compelled to turn my head to the left. They all asked what I saw, but I was not able to understand this physical reaction for many months to come.

After this prayer session, life slowly began to change. Day by day my disposition improved, my relationship with my husband and children was shifting. Communication was opening up. I began to recognize where I needed to change my ways.

Our friends that are involved in CHM graciously provided for me to attend the Journey to Healing retreat, which was a major milestone of healing! After the retreat I continued to pray, and even today, I regularly make CHM a part of my journey. A group of us attends the open prayer on Tuesdays at least every other week. I remember one recent Tuesday that I went without expectations or strong desires of what needed to be healed. I was totally receptive, but almost jokingly wrote my standard “please heal me of all remaining fear and anger and replace it with love.” As I sat patiently waiting for the rest of my group, Leslie approached me. I felt compelled to share with her – she had recently written an article in the CHM newsletter on fear and how she had come to remember that she had undergone eye surgery as an infant. As I read this article, I was so overcome by the Holy Spirit. He guided me to remember, that I too had surgery, around 9 months of age for blocked tear ducts. I was not anesthetized during this procedure and remember screaming and trying to turn my head away from the fear and pain. As I read and reflected on Leslie’s story, I felt healing coming over me. I felt the familiar compulsion to turn my head to the left, straining my neck, just as I had done after the initial prayer session with Norman and Bettie. I felt the fear of being a child, unable to control what was happening, and fear throughout my entire life where I would always turn and run away, unable to deal with anything out of my control. As I relayed this to Leslie, she prayed with me and remarked how it appeared that Jesus was ministering directly to me. I can only attribute this to the healing received through CHM, and the skills that I learned on my journey.

What has all of this meant to my life? When I came to CHM, I was broken: a bitter, angry, fearful woman. I had also faced significant loss– the loss of my parents, my immediate family, finances, lifestyle – everything other than my husband and children. I was so weighed down with pain and negativity. God is now restoring me – only in His image. With the most recent prayer time, I am now moving forward in getting a job; for months I was immobile – unable to pick up the phone or submit a resume. I approach each day now with a new purpose, knowing that I am on His path. The calls and interviews are coming, and I am hopeful for a new career. I am forever changed. I recognize that healing continues and am forever grateful to God, and to the beautiful ministers at CHM.

 

Leslie Royalty Leslie Royalty is in charge of Prayer Minister Care at CHM. Sep/Oct 2010