Healing Line

Healing Line

Generational Healing: The Undiscovered Country

by Russ Parker
Winter 2016

It is not often that you get to meet a real pioneer in the ministry of Christian Healing, but I was privileged to meet Dr. Kenneth McAll, author of Healing the Family Tree. Like many pioneers, he made mistakes but he also opened doors of insight and opportunity for others to build upon his foundation. Dr. McAll lived in China and worked as a missionary alongside Eric Liddell, the Olympic gold medalist and fellow missionary to China. During this time, Dr. McAll came to the firm conclusion that some of the personal problems and diseases that people suffer with are in fact inherited legacies from their family line. He strongly advocates taking seriously the effects of sin and brokenness from those who have gone before, so that their living relatives can get on with their lives. The other strong pillar in Dr. McAll’s teaching is that the best context for praying for the healing of such wounds is in the taking of Holy Communion, which he called the Eucharist of the Resurrection. I can understand why he said that. Holy Communion proclaims the good news that the death and resurrection of Jesus is powerful and means healing, deliverance and release for all.

In my years of involvement in healing ministry, I have noticed some key principles that empower the process of healing family stories and legacies.

Jesus Has Total Access

At the heart of all healing is the need to surrender — to bring all our issues and concerns to Jesus. In generational healing we realize that Jesus has access to the stories of the departed in a way that we do not and should not. I have always been struck by the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew’s Gospel where he tells his critics, “Have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ He is not God of the dead but of the living.” (22:32) At first glance this statement might seem flawed, as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are long dead. How can God be the God of the living in their context? It means that for God and therefore for Jesus, not even those who have died are beyond his jurisdiction. It is astounding that when Jesus raised people from the dead, he preceded that by addressing the person, and they heard his voice. In other words, Jesus has unlimited access to our departed to whom he can address the issues and concerns we bring to him.

I have long utilized this truth whenever I have performed funeral services. As we come to the prayers in the service, I remind people that when a person dies, we often find ourselves saying, “If only I had known when they were going to die, I would have said this or done that.” However, because Jesus has access to the departed, we can surrender to Jesus the words and deeds we feel are incomplete. In the service I often give people a minute’s silence to perform this simple act of release through Jesus.

The most remarkable outcome of this exercise I have ever seen was when a man, upon leaving the funeral service, said to me, ”Now I see!” I wasn’t sure what he meant so I asked him to explain. He was blind, and he held up his white walking stick to me and said slowly, “Read my lips, now I see!” He was the son of the elderly man for whom the funeral was held.

The son had not seen or spoken to him for sixty years. He hated his father and found my invitation to speak to Jesus about an unfinished agenda laughable.

Then suddenly, during the service, a memory popped into his mind and it was a question he had asked his father when he was very young. “Why don’t you love me? Is there something wrong with me?” His father never answered the question. So, in the moment of silence, he asked Jesus to ask his father why he had not loved him. He got no new insights, but when he opened his eyes following the time of prayer he found he was no longer blind!

Often, through Jesus, people apologize to their miscarried or aborted children for dismissing them as being of no real importance. Sometimes parents are able to give names to such children as an act of faith and a recognition of their equal right to life. Others would forgive parents for emotional damage done by them, and still others celebrate their loved ones for the good gifts they bequeathed down the family line.

There are those, who through acts of “representational confession,” confess the sins and the damage done to others by ancestors or people groups. A graphic example of this was Ken McAll’s description of the prayers of apology and repentance offered within the infamous Bermuda Triangle for the sins of the white slave traders upon the black slaves. Many of the latter were dumped into the ocean as excess baggage to save the slave ship from capsizing in a storm.

After these prayers were offered, there was a period of 40 years where no one disappeared (although some recent disappearances have begun again).

The Listening Heart

I find one of the most insightful and challenging scriptures are the words of Yahweh to Cain, the first perpetrator of murder. “Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10 TNIV)

There are a number of insights we can learn from this passage. Cain had buried the body of Abel somewhere out of sight, but God knew where the body was buried. God is aware of all stories and their location, and this challenges us to do the same as we are able. It is this simple exhortation that has fueled many to “Prayer Walk” to a wounded site in our nation to pray for those who have suffered injustice there, and the effects to be lifted off the living.

Another insight is that some people's stories still speak although the person is no longer with us. Ken McAll says that God has called us into partnership with himself to listen to the lost voices of the “wounded dead,” in order that their stories and their worth may be recognized. Through the risen Christ, we are called to be the new “acoustic” community that hears and locates the wounds of the departed in order that they may be recognized, owned, confessed and healed.

Confession and Ownership

Generational healing focuses on the stories and their repeating patterns within our family trees. Over the many years I have engaged in this work, repetitive patterns have emerged, such as children lost through abortion, miscarriage or unplanned death. Early deaths in the family can sometimes lead to struggles with depression and dysfunctional behavior in the present day.

Because the issues are in the family line, the living can become the priests or intermediaries representing the family issues and bring them to God. At the heart of this kind of confession lie the twin actions of taking ownership of what is ours, and then offering to God those things that they might be heard and healed. When people have done this, I have often seen breakthroughs, not only in the lives of those who prayed, but also in family members not present. It is as if some corporate shackle has been broken off a family, or some shared legacy has been overcome.


Generational Healing is about healing the wounds that afflict families through the unsought legacies of those now dead. It is a demonstration of the power of Jesus to transcend time and the great gulf that lies between the living and the departed. For us that gulf is an undiscovered country, but for Jesus it is a part of the kingdom of God of which he is Lord. You may be interested to learn more by reading Ken McAll’s book Healing the Family Tree which has recently been reprinted.

Russ Parker Russ Parker is the former Director of Acorn Christian Healing in England and a member of CHM's National Advisory Board.
Winter 2016 Issue