The Faith to Heal
Curing disabilities or the evil thought of disabilities?
“I’m fine with my disability.”
Many know that’s possible. On the other hand, some find it hard to understand. They think, “why would someone not want to be healed? How can he or she be fine in a wheelchair?” People with disabilities find such questions rather irritating as people seem to forget that life is multifaceted. Despite the inconvenience disability brings, there are still multiple possibilities to feel fine and live life to the fullest.
Among all these possibilities, faith plays an important role. Where can we find faith and how does it work? Let’s reconsider faith via a faith healing experience with Emily Yates.
The quest of miracles
Emily Yates was born with cerebral palsy and has been using a wheelchair since the age of nine. Although she would love to have her bad scar tissue and foot pain healed if possible, she is proud of her identity as a person with disabilities.
Like many other people in wheelchairs, Emily has encountered both friends and strangers offering to pray with her or even heal her from her wheelchair use on different occasions. Such good intentions have often left Emily confused. She wondered what such desire to cure someone with disabilities says about people’s attitudes towards disability. Then one day, she met John Mellor, an Australian Healing Evangelist who was on a global healing tour in England, UK.
John has been practicing faith healing for years. It is known as a practice of prayer and expressions, believed by some, bringing about the holy intervention in spiritual and physical healing. Testimonials can be found on John’s website and YouTube channel on how people of various illnesses and disabilities got “healed” through his prayers. John claimed that his abilities to heal have been granted by Jesus after he prayed and fasted for ten days each month for five months. In this period, he hailed to God to reveal himself in power to heal these people.
Before meeting John at one of his free healing sessions, Emily watched some of his videos. They included the ones where people have spent years in a wheelchair and were told that their conditions are incurable. Shortly after John’s prayers, these people could hop out of wheelchairs to run across the stage. The surge of ambivalent feeling struck Emily again. Undoubtedly she was interested in the idea of permanent pain relief. However, she found it hard to imagine not living in her wheelchair and all that comes with it anymore. It’d be like losing a part of herself.
Eventually, Emily attended John’s healing meeting in Worthing. Audiences with various problems were called to the stage one by one to be healed by God via John’s religious practice. Many claimed to feel the healing power immediately. The venue was filled with hope and optimism. Soon it was Emily’s turn to be healed, and here’s what happened:
The different acts of faith
While miracles seemed to happen on many others at the meeting, it seemed to have skipped Emily. Like others, she received the same faith healing procedures from John: “casting out” people’s imperfections, placing his hands on people’s heads while praying to God for help. Despite the upbeat attitude and effort, nothing much happened to Emily. She was asked to stand and attempt to walk with the help of two men. She tried but failed within seconds. John seemed disappointed at the outcome and craved to know even the slightest improvement Emily had experienced after the faith healing practice.
So what went wrong with Emily’s faith healing experience with John? Was her faith for healing not strong enough? Or is it like many suspect: Has the power of faith healing been exaggerated, or, even worse, was it only for the show?
Regarding these, Andy Lewis, an anti-alternative medicine blogger and campaigner, has offered his thought-provoking viewpoints in the above video. He explained, “if your expectations are that you’re going to feel better in a certain situation, and there’s a lot of theatre in such an environment and that theatre adds to the sense of occasion, then people do feel better in the moment.” He then added,
“I don’t personally believe that people are crooks and charlatans. I think they believe in what they do. They might get carried away with their own beliefs and experience – what’s happening around them. And if they’re doing anything wrong, I think it’s probably perhaps they’re not being circumspect enough about their own capabilities.”
In the video, there is another man diagnosed with motor neurone disease who continued to attend John’s healing meetings, even though there were no specific improvements after attending dozens of them. Instead of weakening, his faith to get healed seemed to remain strong as he said, “I’m still fully believing I’m going to be well. I will not die, I’ll live and declare the works of the Lord.”
Faith varies from person to person, and it can change through knowledge and experiences. There’s no right or wrong about faith but the act of faith can lead to different results – good or bad.
Considering how to keep healing, John mentioned in his website, “if you feel symptoms returning, refuse to accept it. If you have received Jesus Christ as your savior, you have the authority to rebuke the devil and command him to get his hands off your life.”
I think it’s rather important to understand how “refuse to accept it” should be. One should always be wary of anyone or any healing method which encourages medical neglect or claims to have no side effects and be much more efficient than any other methods. By all means, one should always seek the advice of physicians or other qualified health providers with any questions regarding a medical condition.
Instead of denying the illness or disability as they are evil like John has suggested, one can consider to seek the inner peace to live with illnesses and disabilities. Rarely anyone would like to be ill or disabled but that doesn’t mean illnesses and disabilities are evil. What’s truly evil, is how many in our society believe that life is good only when we are free from illnesses and disabilities.
What do you think about healers? How much faith do you have in healing?