Anyone who knows anything about me is aware that I am physically handicapped. As a consequence of a bout with polio, I have spent my entire life walking on crutches or sitting in a wheelchair. I’m not saying that because I want sympathy—I don’t need or want it. I refer to my physical condition to indicate that I have some experience with the subject at hand.
My mother told me a long time ago that it would break her heart when I saw a preacher named Oral Roberts on TV healing people. She told me that she couldn’t help me understand why that kind of healing never happened for me. If healing was the result of prayer, then something was wrong because I know my parents prayed endlessly for me.
When I was a teenager, a group of friends insisted that I go to a revival meeting with them in downtown Denver. The preacher was a man named Morris Cerullo. I had never heard of him, but apparently, he had a reputation for healing people. I wasn’t too excited, but I went with them. When we arrived at the arena, we couldn’t get in because the crowd was too large. Perhaps if my friends had been more like the men who cut through the roof to get their friend around their crowds to see Jesus, things might have turned out differently for me.
As I came to recognize God’s call to the ministry, one of the biggest challenges I faced was my physical limitations. Friends encouraged me in different ways. Some assured me that God would provide and make it possible. A few others suggested that it meant God was going to heal me and allow me to walk. That would have been quite a jump start to ministry.
While in college to prepare, some well-meaning friends organized a special prayer meeting for my healing. They gathered around me as I sat in a chair and we all prayed. I can honestly say that as far as possible, I believed. I remember thinking it was important that I take the first step, so I mustered up as much strength as possible in my legs and tried to stand. Instead, I fell to the floor.
I began to rethink this whole healing thing. I had believed, and I had even tried to take a step of faith, but nothing happened. Because of my concept of God, I knew He did not fail me. The failure had to be on my part, and it wasn’t a failure to believe. Instead, it was a failure to understand what God wanted to do in my life.
A short time later, some friends invited Sharon and me to attend a church with them. It was a very charismatic church, and I mean charismatic in the sense of wild and crazy. When they began talking about having a Jericho march followed by a healing service, I told my friends I was leaving and headed for the door. I had no desire to be the featured act of the evening.
Over the years I have frequently had people suggest that God could heal me. I even received a phone call from a guy who had heard of me, and he wanted to meet with me and pray for healing. I told him I would be happy to pray with him, but I had no interest in praying for healing. He made the 75-mile trip anyway.
You can understand when I say that I have given this subject a great deal of thought. I’m confident God is not going to miraculously heal me and make it possible for me to walk in this lifetime. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think God has the power to do so. I have experienced the healing power of God in many other ways, both for family and friends and for me.
The thing I have always struggled with is the circus-like atmosphere surrounding “faith-healers” who travel the world healing people in the name of God. You’ve seen them, if not in person, at least on TV. It’s like they have some type of miraculous ability to bring healing to certain people. It’s hard to doubt the word of all the folks who testify they came in with a malady but are leaving with good health.
How does this happen? If this guy has the ability to do this, why doesn’t he walk the halls of a hospital?
This is not a subject I spend a lot of time researching any longer. However, last night, I came across a video on Netflix that left me speechless. Even today, after giving it considerable thought, I still don’t know what to think about what I saw.
The video was a presentation by Derron Brown. Several years ago, I saw a video of him teaching a man how to be a “faith-healer.” It was a documentary about how the man went around performing “miracles” in a way that people believed it was God.
This new video, called, “Miracle,” is a performance Derron Brown did before a British audience. He told them up front he was an atheist and then proceeded to demonstrate how Christian faith-healers do what they do. Using a combination of the power of suggestion, hypnosis, and the tricks of a mentalist, he healed people. The resemblance to a Christian revival meeting was astonishing.
The knee-jerk reaction to is claim Brown was a tool of the devil to discredit genuine Christian preachers. If I really believed these Christian faith-healers were genuine, that’s probably the position I would take. However, I don’t find much of what these preachers do consistent with scripture.
I’ve always believed that much of what they do is not really healing. I know some of it is prearranged and some of it is a temporary respite from pain or discomfort that will recur shortly. What Brown did in the Netflix video was a much more polished version of what the preachers do.
I don’t know exactly what I think yet. I would like for some of you to watch the video and join a conversation. It’s certainly worth considering. Go to Netflix and search for “Miracle: Faith or Fiction” and then let me know what you think.