|Profession||Medical / Health|
|Date||1 July, 2007|
The child and mother death rates in our serving country are horrific – 1 in 10 children dies before the age of 5, and 1 in 8 women can expect to die of a complication during pregnancy or delivery. What’s worse is that they say that God has ‘written’ this for them and they see no possibility for change.
The clinic and health teaching are a response to the physical needs of the people but our goal is also to address their spiritual needs. I have often prayed with patients and try to bring a conversation about the Father into as many consultations as possible. Recently, though, I’ve been challenged to expect more.
I was walking down one of the streets in the shanty town during the weekend with two colleagues, Darren and Steve, specifically looking for people who needed prayer for healing. I’d been doing the same on and off with another friend for the previous four months but with no “success”. All of sudden Darren told us clearly, “The next man we’ll come to has pain in his neck and God is going to heal him”.
Darren and Steve are specialists. They’d come here specifically to pray for the sick and they have faith built on many experiences of answered prayer. In particular, they thrive on ‘words of knowledge’ – knowing what the Father is about to do – and Darren knew that the next man we met was about to get well. So we stopped outside the next shop. The 45 year old man standing there had indeed had neck pain for several years, unhelped by medicines. Darren told him about the word of knowledge he had just received and asked if we could pray for him in Jesus’ name. Our new friend willingly agreed.
We prayed together for about a minute and then stopped to ask how he was feeling. With an almost expressionless face he said, “Yeah, the pain in my neck’s completely gone, but my back still hurts.” So we prayed for his lower back too and in another minute that too was fine. We were delighted, but the local guy didn’t seem particularly surprised! (I’ve seen him several times since and he’s still well.)
By that stage we had unwittingly gathered a crowd of about fifteen spectators, most of whom were children. Darren got another word of knowledge that there were children there who had pain in their thumbs. I turned to ask the boy next to me how his hand was. He’d bashed his thumb three days ago and it was still sore. I prayed for him with no change, but when Darren prayed… guess what! In fact four children in the crowd were immediately released from various pains in their hands – and the look of surprise on their faces convinced us that they weren’t just playing along. Something really surprising had happened.
Needless to say, by now we were the centre of attention! A man was literally tugging on my arm to get us to come and pray for his wife who had a severe kidney infection and was in real pain. We went with him to his house. As we prayed for her Steve knew that the main problem wasn’t physical but that she needed a spiritual encounter with God. So we prayed for a vision. She then described how she saw “a heavenly being” pass in front of her closed eyes and she felt a release in her self. When we arrived she had been hunched over and totally depressed but we left her smiling and relaxed. Her physical pain also lifted gradually and she was healed without antibiotics overnight.
At least two other women were also healed that day. One was so pleased that she later organised a meeting for fifteen friends and invited me and another couple to go back and pray for them. When we returned, we had to correct some misconceptions. She had told her friends that we were going to read the Qur’an over them – a traditional healing method here. We gently explained that, just as Jesus healed people when he walked on earth, he heals people today when we pray to him. We sat with these women and prayed for each one in turn. Several reported that their pain was gone, while others simply felt the presence of a heavenly power.
For me, the most significant part of this second meeting was that these Muslim ladies were gathering earnestly to seek God in a faith that they’d never looked into before. It felt like the beginnings of a church. I believe that some have started to recognise the fruitlessness of their past and may soon seek God in a new and living relationship through the only mediator, Jesus.
However, miracles on their own do not bring people into this relationship. There is still much hard work to do in explaining the good news of complete healing – of salvation. This work (which in the west we might assume is easier than working miracles) is actually harder here. People are very willing to have their illnesses and minor problems healed (who wouldn’t be?) but the idea of repenting and turning to a new faith is not so popular. Furthermore, in a society where decision-making is corporate, and where a monolithic religion stands guard over the mind and will of individuals, change is slow.
This was made apparent by the response to the gospel itself. After the second meeting I left two copies of the New Testament with the woman who had organised the meeting. The community leaders quickly found out and were very angry – warning me that giving out the Book could result in a fast ticket back to the UK. Their threats are real. I continue to wait and watch for the opportune time to pray again for healing and to explain the Good News.
“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but… against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12) May the God who so clearly has authority over sickness also demonstrate his authority over this oppressive, false religion and liberate the captives into the Kingdom of the Son. Please pray with us.