Anglican Renewal Ministries

A Story on Christian healing
By Laurie-Ann Zachar Copple

There are many kinds of healing: physical, emotional, mental, volitional and spiritual. All are gifts that are given through the skill of medical personnel, counsellors, clergy and directly by the Holy Spirit. This is my journey of Christian healing. Perhaps you can identify with my story.

I became a Christian at a healing conference that was led by Dennis Bennett in 1988. His teaching on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and wholeness intrigued me and brought me to Jesus. At the time I was a 'seeker' who did not find God in the liberal church I was attending, and instead I searched for fulfillment in the wrong places. Due to my ignorance of the prohibition of the occult, I was unaware of the danger I was in. Dennis caught my full attention when he announced from the pulpit that you "cannot be a Christian and a New Ager too."1   I'm sure the Holy Spirit must have led him to say this, as well as lead delegates in prayer after the first night.

Everything he taught was new to me at the time, but it was the perfect grounding as a new Christian. Unfortunately I was afraid to mention to Dennis about my past, and so did not begin to have healing and deliverance until I attended another conference at Elijah House over a year later. Through this ministry and a number of years in the Vineyard church (in what is now TACF), I received much emotional healing through healing ministry teams, counselling sessions, and sovereign Holy Spirit ministry times.

During my own training for healing ministry team (through the Vineyard, Elijah House, Christian Growth Ministries and Leanne Payne) I learned about 'soaking' prayer. David Bell taught that most healing (even sovereign healing) happens gradually because it also takes time for our bodies (as well as souls) to become used to these positive changes. It gives time to cease harmful habits, and to focus on God. According to Bell, only five percent of healing is instantaneous, and the other 95 percent needs continued prayer,2 as the recipient 'soaks' in the peace of the Holy Spirit, and trusts more deeply in the Lord as they are healed gradually. It increases our faith level day by day. Many of us have experienced gradual healing, which gives us opportunity for character growth.

I have witnessed instantaneous healing. While most of this restoration has been sovereignly-timed emotional healing, I have witnessed such experiences while both on ministry team and in the congregation. Even small healings are a joy, such as what happened with my husband Tony when we attended a healing night at TACF in April 2000. He had a very sore thumb joint that he had injured a number of years ago, and it would flare up regularly. This occasion it was so bad that he couldn't drive or hold hands. This night we were given a word of knowledge that arms were being healed, and I urged Tony to go up for prayer and laying on of hands. His thumb has given him no problem ever since!

I once lived in a seminary residence, and seriously pulled my back while rising from a lower bunk-bed. My sciatic nerve was very painful, but my doctor could only medicate. My back was never fully healed until I visited a local Ottawa church where many people came for healing. I stood up for prayer, hoping to have my re-occurring cold healed, and instead received much more. Other Christians were instructed to lay hands on me, and pray along with the leader. During their prayer, I could feel my spine, joints and everything in the lower back area move back into line! It amazed me and I praised God, since only He could do this. Tony also needed prayer for a sprained ankle recently, and was having trouble sitting and standing in church. Two of the members of my parish healing team laid hands on his foot, and he received a near-complete healing. What was the common denominator in these healings? All three cases involved laying on of hands, with those people as the instruments. It was God who did the healing. We had similar experiences when we held the healing nights on our Alpha courses.

Recently I was screened and interviewed before I joined the healing ministry team at my parish of St. Paul's, since it is a medium-risk ministry. I agree that ministry candidates should be screened since they are acting in behalf of the church, in the sacramental time of eucharist to parishioners who are often quite vulnerable. One of the questions that my rector asked me concerned the bottom line of my healing theology. While I could have said various things, these were not the basic structure that he was looking for. Instead, I was strongly led to say, "I would only be the instrument: it is GOD who does the healing." This answer encouraged the response, "I can see that you've been classically trained." I understood how important my answer was, for it reminded me that God is the one who is in charge, and although praying in the name of Jesus, elements of faith and anointing with oil3 are often very helpful, the Holy Spirit is still the one who heals. Leanne Payne exhorts us to celebrate our smallness, for as we "learn to practise [God's] presence, we trust Him to always [be] our adequacy." 4  

Emotional healing also is complex for counsellors and clergy to work through with clients and parishioners. However, as Emma Marsh noted during a recent healing mission in Ottawa, "It's Jesus who restores a sense of worth and hope for the future, not the prayer counsellor."5 Again, it is God who does the actual healing, particularly in Christian counselling. This care is given with the help of God, but grace-filled sovereign times do accelerate the healing process. When I was attending TACF years ago, John Arnott commented on these experiences by saying that "often people receive as much healing in one of these experiences as in a year of counselling." 6  

I have found many wonders among the brokenness on this journey - people being set free and healed by the power of Jesus Christ. The statistics of sexual abuse of one in five7 represent only one area among broken relationships, emotions and bodies. These people need Jesus, who can and will restore them if allowed.

1. Dennis Bennett, Spirit of Promise conference, Kingsway Baptist Church, Toronto ON April 1988.
2. David Bell, Christian Growth Ministries Week Two, Maranatha Christian Reformed Church, Belleville ON October - November 1993.
3. This anointing of oil is done by a priest or bishop.
4. Leanne Payne, The Healing Presence, Wheaton IL: Crossway Books, 1989. pg. 22.
5. Emma Marsh, Healing Relationships, Ottawa ON. April 28, 2001.
6. John Arnott, Toronto Airport Vineyard, 1994, near the beginning of the "Toronto Blessing"
7. The current average statistics are one in five women.

- Laurie-Ann Zachar Copple
February 2001

Laurie-Ann works in the ARM national office and attends St. Paul's in Kanata, Ontario.

An abridged version of this article was published in Anglicans for Renewal, Canada magazine, Summer 2001 issue.

Comments, questions or requests for further reading may be conveniently sent to Laurie-Ann by e-mail.

To the author's Home Page.

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