On the evening of September 23, 2003, Francis, a black South African man who was hosting a regional conference at a Pentecostal church, was accosted by four men who told him, “We want to kill you today.” They beat him severely and fled. Francis was taken by car to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead at 11:00 p.m. He was taken to the hospital morgue. Everyone at the church continued to pray for him, however, as did a handful of Christians who gathered around his body in the morgue. At 12:15 a.m., Francis began to breathe. Although his eyes and lips were swollen shut, he managed to croak out two words: “Forgive them.”
The next day, heeding Francis’s words, the church refused to press charges, even when one of the assailants was apprehended. The police were chagrined, convinced that this would encourage more crime. About the same time, the hospital called the church, asking someone to come pick up Francis immediately. His wounds had inexplicably healed completely. There was no longer any evidence of any trauma, so there was no reason for him to continue taking up space in the hospital. Francis went directly to the police station to make sure his attacker was released. The police denied his request, saying, “How do you forgive someone who has beaten you to death like this?” Finally, they complied. Francis hugged his assailant and told him God loved him. The man believed himself to be a murderer, but as a result of Francis’s kindness and forgiveness he converted to Christianity and became an active evangelist (pp. 252–253).
In 1985, Mahesh Chavda, a healing evangelist, was holding services in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire, as it was then called. An individual attending the ceremonies was Mulamba Manikai, a man whose six-year-old son had been pronounced dead at 4 a.m. The death certificate specified cerebral malaria as the cause of death. During the religious service, Chavda summoned Manikai and prayed for his son. The man then ran back to the hospital where his brother, Kuamba, had maintained a vigil. Kuamba reported, “It was midday. I was sitting there holding the body of my brother’s son in my arms. Suddenly, I felt his body move. Then he sneezed. He sat up in my arms and asked for something to eat.” Six years later he was still doing well (pp. 259–260).
These narratives are from Testing Prayer: Science and Healing, authored by Candy Gunther Brown (2012). Brown is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the American Studies Program, at Indiana University, Bloomington. Testing Prayer abounds with dramatic healings following prayer, which, Brown accurately states, is “brimming with surprising twists and turns” that keep a reader engaged. She’s not kidding. The healing narratives range from common ailments such as asthma to lethal diseases that disappear within hours or days. Included are individuals such as those above, who regain vital signs and return to normal life.
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