Healing & the Church: An Interview with Christy Wimber

Christy, who are you, what church do you pastor and how long have you been in ministry?

My name is Christy Wimber. I’ve been pastoring the Yorba Linda, CA Vineyard for ten years, which is the city in which Vineyard began, so it feels as though we have come full circle. I am also a wife and a mother, which is a lot of juggling. I travel to different conferences and events about once a month, mostly internationally. I am writing a book right now, and am ghost writing for John Wimber. We have gone through all of John’s papers and collected articles that he was writing before he passed, and for eighteen years I have been compiling and writing some books out of his notes, files and papers. My own book focuses on topics that the Lord has me working on as I hear from Him.

When were you first introduced to the power of the Holy Spirit and what kind of changes did you notice?

I was about nine years old when I first experienced the Holy Spirit.  I remember the day it happened—we were sitting in a meeting at the Vineyard church, and I was having trouble hearing. Suddenly my ears just popped open. That was one of my first encounters with the power of the Holy Spirit and it scared me to death, but was also amazing.

Tell me a story about something supernatural that you have encountered recently.

I think there are supernatural things happening all the time. I was just talking to a girl this morning—we had prayed for her dad for healing of prostrate cancer a few months ago in England. After that, his bloodwork results showed great improvement. That is a supernatural event!

If you could give a piece of advice to every pastor in America, what would it be?

Keep your lamp full and lit. I think that time with Jesus, sitting with Him, getting our lamps filled, being full of the Holy Spirit—I don’t think there is anything more important. I think that a lot of things in ministry fight against that—busy schedules, busy with church, busy meeting with people—these are all good things. As a minister, however, I feel that I am most effective after I have been ministered to, so this becomes a priority for me. If leaders lived every day from the place where God defines us, speaks to us and reminds us of who we are—then we will minister from a place of health, instead of from a place of performance or hurt or rejection or whatever is happening to us at that moment. So that is my encouragement—keep your lamps full and get what you need from Jesus first.

How would you address someone who has just lost a close friend or family member despite folks around them having prayed for healing?

As spiritual leaders, we need to teach people how to live and that God heals, saves and delivers. As pastors, we also need to teach people how to die. Death is part of life. When I am walking someone through the possibility of death, we pray for healing. I tell them, “We pray for healing and we know you are going to get that healing, we just don’t know if it is going to be this side of heaven or the other side. The key is to not stop asking for prayer.” John Wimber taught me this early on. We never know what God is going to do and when He is going to do it. But in the process of that, we need to equip people and walk with them through it. We also need to be honest about what is happening. We cannot live in a place where we won’t admit when we see someone dying. It can create devastation in the family if not addressed. I tell them, “We are in a battle. In a battle people get hurt and people die. But we are going to keep fighting the battle and we are going to do it until you either get healed here or until you go to be with Jesus.”

If you were to give a piece of advice to someone struggling with anxiety and fear, what would it be?

Those two things are what I am encountering more and more in the world around me. It’s not just in the church—it’s in the world around us. People are really struggling with anxiety, and fear is how the enemy operates. He wants us to be in fear. I think that repeating the Scriptures out loud is a powerful tool. 2 Timothy 1:7 teaches us, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Having other people pray for us is also very important. If I am ministering to someone struggling with anxiety, the worst thing I can do is tell them they don’t have enough faith, or they are encountering this because they have done something wrong, or they have anxiety because they aren’t living the Christian life correctly. Those are some of the things being taught in the church today that I see as so damaging.

If you were to encourage someone who has prayed for years and years for a physical healing and hasn’t received it, what would you say?

I would say that anyone dealing with something chronic, while at the same time living from a place of loving and trusting Jesus, is a hero. Those who don’t see the things that they want to see and are still fighting for something—watching others being healed while they aren’t—these people are heroes. They say yes to Jesus in spite of what they are going through. My encouragement would be to tell them they have been a fine example because we need people like that who will love Jesus no matter what. I would also encourage them to explore the different kinds of healing. There is physical healing, and there is also emotional and spiritual healing. Get ministry in those areas as well, especially if you don’t see physical healing. Keep moving and getting ministry.

Do you have any books that you recommend on the subject of healing?

I think the Gospels give the best model for healing. All throughout, Jesus gives us examples of how we are to minister—models of compassion, love and acceptance. Even faith and risk are modeled. I also think Francis MacNutt’s book Healing and John Wimber’s book Power Healing are some of the best resources. Those are my staples.

Who were your mentors and what are some of the things that you remember them teaching you with regard to the Holy Spirit and healing?

When it comes to healing, my main mentor was John Wimber. The elders in my church also played a large role. They were the people that I saw doing the stuff—praying for people all the time, week in and week out. That is how I learned; “the church was the church” and ordinary people taught me.

What is your favorite area of praying for healing and why? Any story to tell about it?

I love when people get saved and encounter wholeness for the first time. That is my absolute favorite. With salvation, I think there is an instant healing that takes place. It’s a supernatural deal! These days, another one of my favorites is to see healing in the area of mental health, because that is what I am encountering and where I am being used right now. God is really giving me a heart for people struggling with anxiety and depression, and for those caring for people with these conditions. There is no outlet for the caregivers. I love to minister to both of them, to let them know they are not alone. This kind of prayer involves more spiritual and emotional healing rather than physical healing.

Can you list—besides anxiety and depression—conditions that you have seen healed lately?

When people come to me and say they have been healed on the spot of something such as bipolar disorder, I question it. Healing for mental illness is not an overnight fix; I think the church needs to see it differently. Obviously God can heal whatever, whenever. But I think that mental illnesses, and any other long-term conditions that have to do with the brain, need more long-term prayer. Traumas, inner healing—these things need more time. I see a lot of people being healed who have kept secrets and have had no outlet to let their secrets be released. Then they encounter God for the first time and can be honest about it. That becomes a huge power encounter. There is so much stigma attached to telling their story, so something has to change—this is where the church can be a bridge and a place of healing. This is where Jesus would be hanging out, so that is where I want to hang out.

When you are not ministering, what do you like to do with your free time and how often do you get to do it?

I really value “checking out.” I think it is very important; it keeps me sane. There are some things that I do with the Lord that are invaluable to me. I also love the beach. I love water. Getting by water relaxes me in a way like nothing else does.

Do you have any personal testimonies of healing that you would like to share?

I have seen so many things healed with my kids; these are the most meaningful to me as a mother. One time I was with my daughter at the river when she had a freak accident. She tripped over backward on a big rock, and her arm looked like it was broken in half with her elbow upside down—it was very traumatic. When they went in to do the x-ray, it was confirmed that her elbow was broken in half, and her shoulder and wrist were both broken. They took her into surgery, and afterward the surgeon came out and said, “Boy, I had to put all of these pins into her elbow.” But her wrist and her shoulder were fine. I asked the Lord, “Why didn’t you just do the whole thing?” That was just weird, but it’s a great story.

What do you encounter most frequently as a block to healing?

I would say two things: 1) having a critical attitude—it puts up a massive wall and prevents the Spirit from moving; and 2) bitterness—I think bitterness eats people from the inside out, and becomes a roadblock preventing people from receiving wholeness.

What do you see as sources of critical spirits and bitterness?

They both can stem from disappointment, discouragement, false and unmet expectations; thinking that people, places and things should have given them more. Life turning out differently than desired. A victim mindset.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I would encourage your readers to turn toward the Lord. He is giving us a huge invitation for healing, not just limited to physical healing, but for complete wholeness. In my research I’ve found that one in every four Americans deals with mental health issues in one way or another. This is a healing point. We have an invitation all around us. People are being suffocated by things around them and they don’t feel they can share their struggles with anyone. Their stories and experiences cause them to feel weak or worthless—with symptoms of depression and anxiety. There is an invitation from the Lord for us to be that bridge and to remove that stigma. Those who are struggling—find a place where you can go and share what you are going through. Caregivers, you need to share also—find a place. Church, wake up and see the world around you. See the areas of healing through the Spirit as a massive bridge to Jesus. 

For more about Christy Wimber visit her church website at YLvineyard.com.

Christy Wimber  Author, speaker, and worship director, Christy is currently Senior Pastor of Yorba Linda Vineyard Church.
 Winter 2015/16 Issue