No medical proof of 'miraculous healings'

Church does not keep records

The Pensacola News Journal/November 20, 1997
By Kimberly Blair

Pensacola --Night after night, revival leaders tell the crowds that healings are occurring and growing more powerful. "I know now that we could all get to the place where the dead are raised," evangelist Steve Hill said in a November 1996 article in "Ministries Today," a magazine for Christian leaders. "We 're seeing miraculous healings, cancerous tumors disappear and drug addicts immediately delivered."

But the Brownsville Revival has not provided medical documentation of spontaneous healing and does not keep a file of names of people who say they were healed.

The News Journal found several people who say their conditions were healed or improved as a direct result of the revival, but none had medical proof.

Most stories are anecdotal. For example, Dave Collins, a charter bus owner from Oklahoma City, told the News Journal that a woman who rode on his bus brought her daughter to the revival to cure a rare disease that caused her daughter 's foot to turn backwards.

"The doctor was about to have the foot amputated. They went to revival and had an anointing healing service. The foot straightened out," Collins said.

No records

The News Journal could not interview the woman because Collins would not give her name or address. The church said it did not have her name because it does not keep records of the healings.

Many Brownsville Revival regulars and staff members believe the revival is on the brink of a breakthrough into wide-scale healings.

Brownsville church business administrator Rose Compton said she believes the healings will start very close to home, with pastor John Kilpatrick being miraculously healed from the injuries he suffered in a fall from the second story at his new house in Seminole, Ala., on Sept. 17.

His healing will signal the beginning of mass healings, she said.

Kilpatrick, however, told the News Journal during an interview three weeks ago that he is not being miraculously healed.

His medical records, which he permitted his doctor to release to the News Journal, confirm that. They show that his injuries are progressing at normal speed.

Kilpatrick did say, however, that many other people were being cured and healed at the revival.

"We have noticed more and more sick people coming in and saying their pain is leaving. We have had people healed of different things," he said. "Some of it is on video tapes."

Compton gave the News Journal one videotaped testimonial produced by a Lima, Ohio, Christian television program, "Turning Point."

On the video, Lima resident Sandy Cornell, 44, says she "grew a new esophagus" after attending the revival earlier this year.

Her husband, Clarence, asked the News Journal not to call her doctor for verification.

In another case, Rose Elrod, 61, of Oklahoma City told the News Journal she was healed of pancreatitis after attending the revival in September.

"I 've been in and out of the hospital 20 times in the last couple of years," she said. "I was in constant pain and couldn 't eat anything."

Friday, her third day at the revival, evangelist Steve Hill prayed for her, Elrod said, and she was slain in the spirit.

"I laid on the floor 45 minutes with my hand raised," she said. "When I got up I was healed. You are talking about a woman who could hardly make a bed, clean my house, cook or eat. I couldn 't stand."

She said she has talked to, but has not been examined by her physician, Dr. James Hogin, since the healing.

Hogin, a gastroenterologist at Brookwood Medical Center in Oklahoma City, said he wants to see her. He wants to determine whether she is indeed improved or if she is undergoing a placebo effect.

God 's healing verifiable

"God 's healing is always verifiable," Hogin said. "With true healings, it is not that hard to confirm."

Essie Cox, 75, of Atmore, Ala., told the News Journal that six doctors at two different hospitals in Pensacola and Mobile told her she needed heart bypass surgery to unblock clogged arteries.

"I was prayed for on Saturday, Aug. 2, 1997. I didn 't feel anything immediately. I felt kind of woozy like," Cox said. "My husband kept telling me, 'You are healed. 'š ' '

Three days later, she woke up and felt a complete change, she said. "I had claimed the healing in my heart. I knew I was healed," she said.

Since the revival, Cox said, she has had very few problems with her heart. She is continuing to take her usual dosage of two kinds of heart medication and blood pressure medication, but she said she no longer takes daily nitroglycerin.

Cox 's doctor, Dr. J. Andrew Morrow Jr., with Cardiology Associates in Mobile, said the bypass surgery Cox talked about was an elective surgery and not a necessary procedure needed to maintain Cox 's health.

While the revival has not medically verified its claims to healings, the possibility that such healings can occur ‹ at the revival or elsewhere ‹ is not in dispute.

Religious leaders and worshipers in all denominations believe in the power of faith to heal.

The Rev. Don Dunkerley, associate pastor of Northeast Presbyterian Church on Olive Road, has written a book "Healing Evangelism," citing Scripture that supports faith healing.

Dunkerley said that divine healings can occur anywhere, not necessarily at a revival.

However, revivals create an atmosphere ripe for healings, he noted.

"It has been observed historically: God seems to answer more in Evangelistic settings. You are more likely to see something remarkable in a revival setting vs. home," Dunkerley said.

That is because people go to revivals expecting something to happen, said Dan Newberry, one of four associate pastors of Crossroads Cathedral in Oklahoma City.

When people travel to Pensacola from all over the world to attend revival, they have made an investment of time and money and they come expecting something miraculous to happen, Newberry said.

"You spend the money, spend the time, and stand outside that church and wait. That is all you think about. Your expectation level tends to go up," Newberry said.

"If everyone could get into that mode in regular services in their own church, the faith level would be above our heads."

The Rev. Teresa Leifur of Immanuel Episcopal Church in Bay Minette, Ala., said if God wants to heal someone, He will heal them anywhere.

The point is that God is greater than any one or any event, she said.

Newberry said he has many questions about healings he does not understand.

"I 've been praying for people to heal for 25 years. Trying to understand healings is like beating a dead horse. Those who don 't get healed may be accused of not having enough faith," he said. "But who is to say?"

Expectancy with prayer

Dunkerley does not have first-hand knowledge of what is going on at the Brownsville revival. However, he said he does believe God answers the prayers of those who pray for healing with a sense of expectancy.

"Jesus said, when you pray, believe that you have received what you ask for and you will receive," Dunkerley said. "That is expectancy with prayer."

The late Dr. William A. Nolen, who was chief of surgery at Meeker County Hospital in Minnesota, spent many years investigating claims of supernatural healings world-wide.

His conclusions are detailed in Hank Hanegraaff 's book, "Counterfeit Revival: Looking for Jesus in All the Wrong Places."

Nolen stated: "When evangelical healers dramatically call on God to transmit His power through them to cure their patients ' diseases, they are using the power of suggestion in the hope that it will so affect the patient 's malfunctioning autonomic nervous system (the system that regulates such functions as digestion, heart rate, blood pressure, etc.) that the diseases or symptoms caused by derangement of that system will be cured."

God never performs healings slowly, Nolen said.

"Biblical miracles were 100 percent and immediate."

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