Before I was a Christian, obviously the question ‘Does God heal today?’ was a non-question: I didn’t believe in God. Anyway, I would have thought, you know, why would God directly heal one person... but then what about all the other millions of people who also need healing: why would he heal one person and not all the rest? It seemed all very strange, that idea, and rather random.
And then, even after I became a Christian and I read in here about Jesus healing people and the disciples healing people, I didn’t have much expectation that God would want to heal people directly today.
Then back in 1982, this American pastor John Wimber came to speak in the church. I’ll never forget it. He spoke from that pulpit over there, and he told us about his life. He’d been a rock musician in the 1960s. He’d actually put together the band in which the Righteous Brothers came together. And then he’d had a conversion experience and he’d come to faith in Jesus Christ. He had an encounter with Jesus.
And he started reading the Bible, and he read the New Testament. And he read all the ‘stuff’ – that’s what he called it – the ‘stuff’ that Jesus did and then the disciples of Jesus did. And he called it like ‘doing the stuff’: healing people, miracles. And he thought, ‘Wow, this is amazing! This is what church is about.’
So he started going to church, and he was waiting, you know, sitting through the service thinking, ‘When are they going to do the stuff? Because this is what I’ve come to watch! I’ve come to watch people being healed and miracles.’
And now he was speaking to us as a pastor and he was saying this is the kind of thing we ought to do in church. So I sat there – I was sitting over there. I remember it so well, Sunday night. Monday, we were downstairs, in the room downstairs which is called the Spring. We were there with sixty or seventy leaders of the church.
And again he talked about healing. And then he said, ‘Now we’re going to do some healing. But before we do some healing, we’re going to have some coffee.’ Well, we’d never done healing, so we had a very long coffee break! And when we came back from coffee, those people who’d been sitting at the front thought it was a bit selfish to keep the seats at the front, and moved to the back!
But what he said is that exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit— You know at the Weekend we look at the gifts of the Spirit. He said exercising the gifts of the Spirit – his team had been praying – in that list that we look at in 1 Corinthians 12 there’s words of knowledge. He said his team had had these words of knowledge: this was supernatural revelation of things that were wrong with people that they couldn’t have known about naturally. They’d had impressions, pictures, sometimes sympathy pains.
And he read out a whole list, twelve of them. And then he said, ‘Now I’m going to ask those people to come forward.’ First one was of a man who’d injured his back chopping wood with an axe when he was fourteen years of age. And to my amazement, this guy got up and came down to the front.
And then he talked about a number of things, and each one, one by one people came forward. I remember Jeremy Jennings, who’s a great friend, he came forward that night for another back condition, and he was healed that night.
But there was one that no one had responded to. He said there was someone there who’d been trying to conceive and hadn’t been able to. And that’s quite a difficult thing to come forward about; vulnerable. But he waited. And eventually this young woman called Sarah Wright, who’s another great friend, she got up. And we’d had no idea that she was trying to conceive. But she came to the front and the team prayed for her. And nine months later she gave birth to a little boy. Although conception, I hasten to add, didn’t take place there in the Spring! But she’s since had five children.