Healing Line

Healing Line

The Fragrance of the Holy Spirit

by Francis MacNutt
Jul/Aug/Sep 2011

As many of you already know, one of our longtime colleagues in the healing ministry, Barbara Shlemon Ryan, passed on to the next life on Good Friday. We were with her a short time before in San Diego at the meeting of the Association of Christian Therapists, an organization she was instrumental in founding in 1974. Barbara was one of the first people to pray for healing in the Catholic Church in the early 1960’s and she was especially gifted in praying for inner healing. I met Barbara and Sister Jeanne Hill, O.P. in 1969, at a retreat I led in Racine, Wisconsin. As soon as we met I realized they were both very gifted speakers and I added them to the team; after that they became members of many teams that we took around to many countries. Some historians date the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Latin America to the teams we put together beginning in 1970, at a time when I lived at Merton House in St. Louis, MO. Among the many places we spoke were Mexico, Colombia, and Peru.

Shortly before her death – largely incurred by the resurgence of MRSA, which had twice incapacitated her and nearly killed her last year – Barbara came to CHM to record her recollections of how we brought Charismatic Renewal to Latin America. While she was with us, we experienced a fascinating phenomenon which I want to pass on to you.

After our meetings, both Barbara and one of our staff members, Lauren Corley, smelled a fragrance in our office that seemed like lavender and it lingered for quite a while. This kind of aromatic event seems to happen from time to time. My first experience with an unusual floral scent was back in the late 1960s when, during a School of Pastoral Care in Whitinsville, Mass., the participants reported the scent of roses permeating the chapel, although there were no flowers there. What’s the meaning behind it? What’s the point to it all?

As I see it, there is no profound meaning we need to look for, except that experiences like this are meant to encourage us on our journey. People report all kinds of different, unusual manifestations that are not as important as powerful “signs and wonders;” their simple purpose is to encourage us to keep on going in the ministry – which is hard work and sometimes discouraging. We often hear about other fascinating phenomena - one of the more common is seeing golden flakes drifting down from the rafters; at other times glittering metallic flakes appear on the clothing of preachers.

In seeing all of these fascinating happenings I think our attitude should not be to emphasize them, but, rather, to simply notice them and thank God that he has seen fit to bless us with his encouragement. It certainly doesn’t prove that the people to whom it happens are holy. Our best response is simply to be grateful and not to become puffed up with self-importance. I remember once when Judith and I were at a John Wimber conference at Steubenville University and gold colored flakes were found sprinkled on the ground. As for special fragrances, the Christian tradition has included the “odor of sanctity;” people have noticed these remarkable occurrences for centuries but have not devoted much study to them.

And so, if you find gold-dust on your jacket after you have given your testimony, be glad and thank God, but don’t get carried away by it all. Just rejoice that Jesus is showing how much he loves you!


Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jul/Aug/Sep 2011


Jesus Broke the Curse

by J. Lee Grady
Jul/Aug/Sep 2011

One woman's dramatic encounter with Christ shows us that He came to deliver women from spiritual oppression.

We do not know her name. Usually we refer to her as "the woman with the issue of blood." But those words from the King James Bible seem archaic today and make her seem faceless and distant. She was a real person, and her pain was intense.

I sometimes imagine that this fragile shell of a woman was called "Mara" - the Hebrew word for bitter. Chronic sickness had disfigured her life. Yet Christ got so close to her pain that she dared to touch Him, and her healing has provided inspiration for countless sermons ever since.

You know the story. Her appearance in the Gospel of Mark is brief, but her encounter with Jesus, described in Mark 5:25-34, is one of the most poignant in the New Testament. I fear we miss the impact of this woman's story because we don't realize what she endured or what her healing truly signifies.

The Bible tells us that she had been bleeding for 12 years. We don't know the nature of her illness, but it is probable she had some type of female problem. She undoubtedly experienced chronic fatigue, lack of energy and crippling grief.

We don't know the cause of her illness, either. But it is likely she could not bear children because of it, and her childlessness would have brought even more of a stigma in a primitive society than the illness itself.

Perhaps she had suffered a painful miscarriage at one point. Perhaps her husband divorced her because she could not bear children. The Bible doesn't tell us the details.

However, we do know that she "endured much at the hands of many physicians" and that she "spent all that she had" on doctors (Mark 5:26 , NASB) - meaning that she was destitute and may have been forced to beg. The gospel also says that the doctor's efforts made her physical condition worse, not better.

In the time of Jesus, medical care for women in Mara's condition was crude if not barbaric. All the doctors in Jerusalem were men, of course. And their "treatments" were nothing more than experiments based on superstition and flawed science.

Writings of the time prescribed various cures for ailments--including one that called for ingesting dust mixed with human waste. Mara may have been forced to eat such toxic substances to find a cure. For her, doctor visits were torture.

Yet the Gospel account tells us that when she heard that Jesus was passing near her neighborhood, she mustered up the courage to press through the crowd to reach Him. Did she do this simply because she was desperate? I believe there is much more to this story. But we must read between the lines.

This anguished woman had been brushed aside by rabbis, abused by doctors and shunned by men on the street. Why then would she suddenly feel the confidence to approach the rabbi named Jesus?

I wonder if Mara had talked to others about Him. Surely she had heard the reports of His healing power. Perhaps she had even met Mary of Bethany in the marketplace or had talked to Mary Magdalene in an alley.

What set this Teacher apart from all the religious leaders in Israel? And why would Mara have dared to approach Him when she knew that all other rabbis would have rebuked her - and perhaps punished her publicly--for touching a holy man?

1. She knew Jesus was approachable.

Rabbis in Israel were generally aloof and inaccessible - and they kept their distance from women. Ancient Jewish traditions instructed men to walk on the other side of the street when they saw a woman approaching. Superstition said that it was bad luck for a woman who was menstruating to pass between two men.

The rabbis viewed women as the source of all evil. They taught that because Eve was deceived in the Garden of Eden, all females were guilty of ruining Creation. (Ironically, they did not pass Adam's guilt on to all males.) Women were considered deceitful, lazy, fickle and ignorant - and prone to immorality and witchcraft.

Women in ancient Israel were required to stay veiled and silent. Under the best of circumstances they were not to be seen associating with a rabbi. A menstruating woman - who was considered ceremonially unclean - was expected to stay as far away as possible from a man of God.

Yet Mara touched Jesus. I wonder if she had heard from Mary of Bethany that this rabbi encouraged women to sit at His feet and learn from the Scriptures - when other rabbis in Israel did not allow women to participate in any form of religious instruction. Perhaps Mara met the Samaritan woman, who carried on a lively theological discussion with Jesus at Jacob's well.

Or maybe she talked with the old woman whose back was healed by Jesus in the Temple (see Luke 13:10-17). Jesus broke every religious rule of His day when he called that disfigured saint from the women's section in the back of the sanctuary and allowed her to come to the front - where she declared her praises to God.

Jesus created a scandal whenever He interacted with women. Why? He intentionally broke every religious rule about women because part of His mission on Earth was the dismantling of an ancient curse.

2. She knew that Jesus cared for her.

Other rabbis in Israel would have shown no compassion for a woman in Mara's condition. Men often recited this prayer: "Lord, I thank You that I am not a Gentile. I thank You that I am not a woman. I thank You that I am not a slave."

But Jesus didn't say that self-righteous prayer. He didn't view women with disdain. In fact, He had women followers (which was taboo in Israel), and He developed close friendships with some of those women. He even allowed them to see Him crying.

When a certain immoral woman poured expensive perfume on Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair, Jesus did not chastise her like other rabbis would have done (see Luke 7:36-50). He spoke to her tenderly and declared that her sins were forgiven. When a nameless woman was accused of adultery by a group of sanctimonious men (see John 8:1-11), Jesus rushed to her defense and rebuked her accusers.

Mara knew that Jesus was different!

3. She knew Jesus wasn't afraid of her condition.

Mara risked her life when she stepped into the dusty street and pressed toward Jesus' entourage. People who knew her were probably dumbstruck by her forwardness. Some of the men escorting Jesus probably shouted at her, "Go away, sick woman!"

But Mara knew that her bleeding was not repulsive to Jesus. Something deep inside told her that this rabbi wasn't concerned about contagion. She said to herself, "If I just touch His garments, I will get well" (Mark 5:28). Staying low to the ground, unseen by Jesus' disciples, she reached through dozens of scurrying feet and grabbed the hem of Jesus' robe.

Her miracle came instantly. Her throbbing pain subsided. The hemorrhaging stopped, and the soreness that had crippled her body for more than a decade vanished. Perhaps she began to sob, but fear undoubtedly gripped her when she realized that Jesus had stopped to ask who had touched Him.

Would He rebuke her? Would He give her a stern lecture about Moses' laws of hygiene?

Would He banish her to the edge of town and tell her never to come near Him again? That would have been the reaction of any other rabbi in Jerusalem. But that is not what Jesus did.

His disciples were amazed by His question. Why would Jesus ask, "Who touched Me?" when everyone was seeking His attention? But Jesus knew what had happened to Mara. When she reluctantly made eye contact with Him, all the compassion in the universe stared back at her.

As she knelt at His feet, trembling yet overwhelmed that her pain was gone, she heard Him speak. His tone was not angry. "'Daughter,'" He said, breaking yet another religious rule that forbade rabbis to address women in an endearing manner. "'Your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction'" (v. 34).

Not only was Mara healed but also Jesus affirmed His love for her in front of everyone else. The doctors who had taken her money may have witnessed the scene. The rabbis who smugly avoided her may have been there to hear Jesus encourage her. The men who had spat on her and called her names probably hung their heads in shame.

Rabbi Jesus had spoken. He had changed all the rules.

THE POWER OF REDEMPTION

Mara's healing is significant because it was a prophetic sign of what Jesus came to do for all women. We miss the full meaning when we view the story as a mere display of the Messiah's power over sickness.

Mara's chronic pain represents the state of all women under the curse of sin. No doubt she was familiar with the story of mankind's rebellion in the Garden of Eden. She had heard the local rabbi read the story from the scrolls of Moses.

After Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, God described to Eve how the curse of sin would affect her. He said: "'I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you'" (Gen. 3:16).

Mara certainly knew the pain of Genesis 3:16. She probably winced when she heard those words as she listened from the back of the synagogue, where all women were sequestered in Jesus' day. Mara had lived that verse. It described her existence.

Genesis 3:16 is a clear, prophetic description of how women would suffer in a fallen world without a Savior. The pain it describes is not limited to that of childbirth. It embodies all forms of feminine pain: miscarriage, infertility, rape, abuse, incest, sexual slavery, domestic violence, economic prejudice and even religious chauvinism.

Genesis 3:16 is not God's perfect plan for women. On the contrary, it is the reason women in Islamic countries are stoned in broad daylight by their own husbands. It is the reason the genitals of African girls are brutally mutilated. It is the reason Latino women suffer under the power of machismo. It is the reason women around the world still do not have access to education, health care or civil freedom.

Yet there is good news. When Jesus the Messiah came to Earth, He did not come to set only men free. He came to touch all the Maras of the world. He liberated women from the power of sin's curse. He defended them, bound up their wounds, stopped their internal bleeding, removed their chronic pain and restored their lost dignity.

Jesus was not afraid to identify with women, and He did not refuse when God laid the essence of that feminine pain on Him at Calvary. John 3:16 says He came because God "so loved the world." I like to remind women that John 3:16 has nullified Genesis 3:16!

Mara experienced this redemption 2,000 years ago. I pray that in our lifetime millions of women around the world will come to understand that the rabbi named Jesus is like no other.


J. Lee Grady J. Lee Grady is a Former editor of Charisma magazine, author, speaker and Director of The Mordecai Project. Jul/Aug/Sep 2011


Carry Freedom

by Courtenay Bowser
Jul/Aug/Sep 2011

About a year ago, I was in prayer with a group of female missionaries and I saw a picture that has been emblazoned on my heart. It was a group of women coming up over the crest of a hill. There was smoke behind them and it looked as though an intense battle had taken place. They were pressing forward up the hill, keeping in perfect unity with one another. They looked disheveled, battered and dirty. They were wearing white dresses, but they were tattered and torn from the battle. The women were carrying heavy chains over their heads. I could feel their sense of victory. Immediately, the Holy Spirit said to me, “The chains are not their own. They are the chains of those they delivered on the battlefield – THE DELIVERED HAVE BECOME THE DELIVERERS.” I heard that last line over and over again.

As I pondered this vision, many things struck me as important, especially considering the state of young women in our world and the role of the church in reaching them. First, I realized the women I saw each had her own story. At one point, they had been the ones in chains and had experienced Christ’s deliverance.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36, NIV). Jesus was predicting what was yet to come. He was going to set us all free through His death and resurrection. In the moment that He said, “It is finished,” the slaves became God’s children! Jesus did not just deliver us; He delivered us and changed our entire status. He made us sons and daughters. As believers, once we have a revelation of this freedom that Christ purchased with His life, we understand that NOTHING can keep us bound.

Every one of us has walked our own journey – “life” has happened to us. There have been ups and downs, abuses and tragedies, successes and failures, and these have often left us bound in so many different ways. As believers, it is essential that we begin to surrender these areas to Christ and drop our ropes and chains. Not denying our story, but transforming it into a weapon. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11, NIV).

The Women Had Their Own Story

Another thing that struck me about the women in my vision was that they were not afraid to show their scars. My friend, Pastor Leisa Nelson says, “Your scars qualify you.” She says others need to see they bear the same scar that you do. They also need to know how you found healing.

The world does not need an army of women wearing masks, pretending to be something they are not. Paul writes, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:7-8, NIV) Jesus was not afraid of our failure, our sin, or our weakness. In fact, He ran right towards it and gave His very life for it.

He is not shocked by our inadequacies. We tell ourselves we must be prettier, smarter, more successful, more outgoing, have more friends, fail less, achieve more, become a better mom, be perfect! Young women all over the world are tormented by such lies. When we are unable to attain these things, a sense of utter failure sets in and we want to hide our weakness.

If Satan can keep us hiding our fears, failures, and inadequacies, we will stay treading water in one place, never moving forward. The young women around us need to see the reality of our struggles and trials. They know all too well their own failures, and if, when looking at the church, they only see the perfect happy face, what do they have to hope for? We must give them hope in the midst of the pain!

When Peter wrote, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV); it was not because the church was acting like everything was fine when it was not. The church was in massive trial and turmoil. Earlier in the same book he encourages them, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7, NIV). Things were incredibly difficult, but they were hoping in the Lord.

When the young women around us see our trials, our struggles, or our challenges and we are willing to show our scars, it gives them hope! It says, “I’ve been where you are and I can help. Let me tell you my story. Let me share my struggles even now. Let me show you the Healer.”

The Women Showed Their Scars

The third point that struck me about the army of women is they were not afraid to get into the battle for others. I saw them coming up off the battlefield, but at some point, they had to face their original fear of even going into the battle. Every one of us reaches a point in our walk with Christ where we cannot sit idly by and just watch any longer. Something within us wants to act – this is a crucial moment. This is a moment where vision is born, where the heart of God beats hard in our chest provoking us to reach out to those He loves.

This is the same moment where every fear comes washing in, doubt rears its head, and each past failure begins to scream our name once again. “Unworthy, inadequate, incapable,” and on and on the voices go. They will say anything to keep us from believing and acting – believing that “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong,” (what a great prerequisite, I think I qualify!) and acting on the idea that we “are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”(1 Corinthians 1:27, 1 John 4:4, NIV).

I believe the church is full of women, myself included in recent years, who are afraid. We are afraid of failing again. We are afraid of the unknown. We are afraid of making fools of ourselves. Unfortunately, it simply reveals how much we have yet to learn of His unfailing love. Our success is not based on our capability. It is based on Him.

Agape love is a mind-boggling thing. I believe humans are incapable of it outside of the Spirit of Christ. That’s why Jesus had to create a way for His spirit to live within us. Through the mystery of the gospel, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” a miracle of love takes place (Colossians 1:27, NIV). It is only by this miracle that we can love enough to overcome fear. His perfect love can push back the fear in our own hearts, if we let it. Then, through us, that love can do the same for women everywhere.

Who does your heart break for? What issue, place, or situation evokes a response from your heart (not just your mind) every time you hear about it? Take action! I realize we associate “battles” most easily with men, but the world is full of young women being held captive by the forces of this world. The women of the church must be willing to help them! Get out on the battlefield and start fighting to set the captives free.

The Women Were Not Afraid to Go to Battle

The last thing I noticed about the women is that they were overcomers. Their dresses were torn and tattered. They were dirty, disheveled, and battered, but they were carrying the chains! The chains of those they had set free on the battlefield.

There are many battlefields facing young women all over the world today. It may be eating disorders, obesity or depression/mental illness. For some it’s human trafficking, prostitution and pornography, or maybe HIV/Aids, no water, and lack of education. For others it’s drugs, alcohol, and abuse, or maybe it’s materialism, the love of money, and the allure of fame. These are all battlefields where beautiful young women made in the image of God are suffering spiritual fatalities every day.

If an army of women is going to arise out of the church, we must be finishers! We must “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me,” (Philippians 3:12, NIV). We want to be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” (2nd Timothy 4:7, NIV).

How do we do this? We stay on our face before the Lord. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time,” (1 Peter 5:6 NIV). It is not about our strength. It is about Him. The closer we draw to Him, the more His strength becomes obvious in our weaknesses.

Fighting for the lives of young women all over the world is simply loving them, and doing whatever it takes – whatever it takes - to be able to demonstrate that love to them. To cup their faces in our hands and say, “He loves you.” To wrap our arms around them and say, “He finds you beautiful.” We pour our lives out to Christ, and in turn, to young women all around us. Then, as fear is overcome and lives are healed, we are all “made perfect in love,” (1 John 4:18, NIV).

The Women Were Overcomers

The delivered women of the church MUST become the deliverers. We must say to the Lord, “Wherever you lead I will follow, wherever you send me I will go.” You may find yourself in the next pew at church helping a friend “remove her mask,” or in Thailand loving trafficked girls. You may wake up to an elementary class of children needing a real hero, or may sit at a pregnancy crisis center holding the hand of a young teenager – whatever battlefield you end up on, remember this:

“If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31,35, 37-39).

And, once you’ve remembered, fight the good fight and walk off the battlefield with chains held high…the delivered will have truly become the deliverers.


Courtenay Bowser Courtenay Bowser is an author and co-founder of Ignition Point Ministries. Jul/Aug/Sep 2011


Connecting the Dots with the Past

by Margaret Neill
Jul/Aug/Sep 2011

In July of this year, I participated in a healing prayer session at CHM to deal with a pressing need to pray for my family tree. Throughout my life I was aware of a very rich and loving tradition in our family, yet at the same time, I also sensed of some intense wounding in my parents’ generation. At first I thought it was primarily from one side of my family – the family line where I had felt the most hurt – but as I prepared for the session, I realized that both sides of my family had left me an unexpected inheritance. I was prepared to open myself during the prayer session for God to work on all areas in need of healing. After the session, I felt we had done a lot of work and that Jesus had walked right into the wounding through the centuries. However, as I went back to the hotel and reflected on the experience during the next two days, I felt there was more to be done – something was unfinished.

I was not sure what was missing, but as the training week unfolded the “unfinished” surfaced with great power. For many years, since the coming of the Holy Spirit into my life, I have had unusual experiences pointing to a relationship with four groups of ancient people – Australian Aborigines, Irish pre–Celtic peoples, Native American peoples, particularly in the American Southwest, and the Bushmen of Africa. Of particular is that I am not aware of any biological connection with any of these people, aside from that shared by all humans. When we began the work on the healing of the family tree – about Wednesday – I was fine and there was no indication anything was about to erupt. The class started as usual with the prayer time, and as the teaching started, and I began to feel uncomfortable – uneasy, fidgeting and near tears.

I left the teaching hall and went into the chapel to regain some composure. The next thing I knew I was not only crying but trying very hard not to wail and say things about not being able to take it anymore. I was in crisis! Two CHM staff members came to me, and as the crying slowed down, they asked if I could return to the class and listen to the teaching. They suggested that might help.

During the rest of the teaching, my mind was filled with images of ancient peoples, and I attempted to understand their relationship to each other and also to me. I realized they were all First Peoples and had been oppressed by invaders of their territory. Many were enslaved and some were deprived of their cultures or even killed.

I began to remember that I had recently been experiencing a very deep well of anger that would erupt at unexpected times, and with great intensity, whenever I listened to the news or sensed that INJUSTICE was being done to a person, group or country. After the teaching, I went to sit with my friends and told them about the intensity of my reaction to the First Peoples and their experience of injustice. I was very upset. As they tried to calm me down, another classmate came and listened in and said to all of us, “We need to pray for Margaret, right now!” And so they did. At some point he said, “We need someone here with more power. Then came a young woman who bore my daughter’s name, Glynnis. As she heard my dilemma she immediately recognized all the people as First People and said they had all suffered oppression and injustice and that I was connecting to them in some way. She began to pray with us and then asked if I would put all the things about my family and/or these people into a bowl made with my hand. I don’t remember all that came up but the list included both positive and negative things. When the prayer was finished, I was relieved and released, but also very tired. I don’t remember much about the rest of the day but I know that much healing took place, and I am no longer afraid of the connection I have been given with these First Peoples. The healing is not complete but I am now sure of the road on which I am being led to travel. I thank God and the Prayer Ministers at CHM and my classmates in Level II School of Healing Prayer® for this healing experience.

Margaret Neill attended the Level II School of Healing Prayer® July 12–16, 2010. Prior to this, she attended a personal prayer time that was connected to her experience during the School. We asked her if she would give an account of that experience.


Jul/Aug/Sep 2011