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Evangelism Through the Healing Ministry Presented by the Rev. Canon Dr. Winfred B. Vergara

Evangelism Through the Healing Ministry

The following commentary was presented by the Rev. Canon Dr. Winfred B. Vergara as a workshop during the 186th Diocesan Convention of The Episcopal Church in Vermont, October 26, 2018. This document is available as a downloadable PDF. (DOWNLOAD PDF)

INTRODUCTION:

If for some reason you are asked what academic degree did Jesus have, what would you say? I think it is safe to say Jesus had a PHD, the acronym for “Preaching, Healing and Deliverance.”

Matthew 4:24 says: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”

Jesus preached the Good News, healed the sick, and delivered the oppressed. More than two-thirds of the ministries of Jesus is on healing–and if we must become followers of the Jesus Movement, we must spend time in the ministry of healing. We live in a broken, troubled, sin-sick and dis-eased world, no different from Jesus’ time. There is need, as ever before for the healing of mind, body and spirit.

WHY JESUS HEALS?

There are three purposes for the healing ministry of Jesus:

A.   First Jesus heals in RESPONSE TO HUMAN NEEDS

It is simple: God hears our prayers. In the Old Testament (Book of Exodus), God said to the Hebrew slaves: “I have heard your cries; I have seen your tears. I will come down to save you.”

In the New Testament (Matthew 9:36), Jesus saw the crowd and he had compassion for they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. So when the sick say, “Lord, if you are willing, make me clean; Jesus Son of David have mercy on me” (Matt. 8:2; 9:7), Jesus responds to this need.

B. PLATFORM FOR EVANGELISM

The second reason why Jesus heals is that healing is a platform or prelude to evangelism. I will say more about this but suffice it to say that “Miracles break open people’s hearts to God.” Signs and wonders have a way of getting our attention. The late Billy Graham, probably the world’s most influential evangelist in our generation once said he was sharing the gospel to a fellow passenger in the airplane but this guy was not interested at all. Then suddenly there was a jolt, a rough air turbulence and the guy was terrified. When the turbulence ended, he asked Billy, “Mr Graham, what were you saying again about this Jesus?”

C. POWER ENCOUNTER

The third reason why Jesus healed is that it is a demonstration that the power of God is far more superior than that of the evil one. In the Old Testament, there was this contest between Moses and the magicians of Egypt. When Moses threw down his staff, it became a snake. The Pharoah was astounded so he commanded his magicians to do the same. When the magicians threw down their canes the canes  also became snakes. But Moses’ snake was bigger and more powerful and it swallowed up the snakes of the magicians.

Sickness, like the magicians’ snakes has power over us–but the power of God is greater than any other power. Even the power of death, the last enemy, was already conquered for us on the cross by Jesus. Amen?

HEALING AS PLATFORM FOR EVANGELISM

Let me elucidate further on the theme of healing as a platform for evangelism. The miracle of divine healing, the various signs and wonders wrought from the hands of Jesus and His disciples are both a preparation for the Good News as well as a confirmation of the presence of the Kingdom of God.

In the BOOK OF ACTS 5: 12, 14-16 it says, “The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders…and the people believed.” They believed in Jesus because they have seen the confirmation of the presence of God through the miracles of healing.

ACTS 8:4-8 describes Philip in Samaria. Samaria was a Gentile city and the Samaritans were a people despised by the Jews of that time. You may remember the parable of the Good Samaritan, the third person who instead of just minding his own business and evading responsibility like what the Levite did, went out of his way to nurse, feed and house the hapless victim of robbery. You may remember the parable of the Samaritan Woman at the well who engaged a dialogue with Jesus about true worship. They were extraordinary illustrations  which Jesus used to help break down the Jewish racial discrimination.

On the whole, the Samaritans were a marginalized, ostracized racial-ethnic group in Palestine during Jesus’ time. The pharisaic Jews would have nothing to do with the Samaritans. A comparable ethnic group in today’s world are the Dalits of India, the outcasts of the caste society. They were the “massa perditionis,” the poor and the oppressed.

Philip preached the Good News in Samaria, and his preaching was accompanied by healing. The Bible says, “When the crowds heard and saw the miraculous signs, they all listened and believed.” Miracles open the hearts of the Samaritans, like the water softening the fallow ground. It is said that when the apostle Thomas preached the gospel and planted the Church in India in 50 AD, the ones who readily accepted the claims of Christ were not the Brahmins or the high caste but the Dalits. There is something to say about the childlike faith of these Dalits whom Gandhi called “harijans,” the simple “children of God.”

So, ACTS 8: 9-12 continued to say that “the whole city of Samaria, including Simon the sorcerer, believed!” Even Simon, the Sorcerer! It is like converting am outward communist to believe in Christ! The power or miracles break down skepticism or even antagonism to the gospel and soften hearts to believe.

Another story was the miraculous healing of Aeneas by St. Peter. In ACTS 9:32- 35, St. Peter came down to the Christians who lived at Lydda and Sharon. There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed, bedridden for eight years.  His back might be full of bed sores. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” Immediately Aeneas rose.” The Scriptures added “and all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.”

But the most fantastic of all was the healing of Dorcas in ACTS 9:36-43:

Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas.She was full of good works and acts of charity.In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.”

So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And Peter took her by the hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. “

Again the emphasis “ And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

So as you can see from the Scriptures, the early Church grew in leaps and bounds not only due to the powerful preaching of the apostles, not only by the quality of their lives and relationships, but also because of the mighty works of healing that accompany the Word of God. Healing was an indispensable part of the Jesus Movement!

PERSONAL TESTIMONY

So, let me now share a personal experience of how healing has become an instrument in reviving a declining church. In 2013, I served as  part-time priest of ST. JAMES EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN ELMHURST, QUEENS, NEW YORK. Established in 1704, St. James is a historic church. The first Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Samuel Seabury, was once a priest in that church. It used to be a “great white church” (no pun intended) but due to secularization, demographic change and conflict over theology and sexuality issues, the church declined to the point that they could no longer afford to hire a full time priest.

When I first came, the church had only 20 Average Sunday Attendance and had thousands of debts from the endowment fund. I could only work on Sundays as I have a full time job as missioner for Asiamerica Ministries. By God’s grace, however, after three years Sunday attendance rose to 130 people, and we were able to pay the debt and had $40,000 in surplus. How did we grow? There were many factors but foremost among them was the Healing Ministry that drew new people in and re-energized the old-time members. If lay people had something to do, are trained to do it, and see the results in their ministries, the church will grow.

So, now St. James was finally able to hire a full-time priest. My three-year contract to revive St. James was over and I relaxed a bit and accepted invitations only as a “supply priest.” But after two months, my bishop called me again and said, “Fred, there’s another church…”

Now I am serving as part time priest-in-charge of HOLY TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN HICKSVILLE, NEW YORK. This one is a little difficult because it is a bit far from our residence. So, I drive up from Queens to Nassau County (Long Island) on Sundays, when I am not traveling as Missioner. This parish is composed predominantly of Anglo-Europeans, many retirees and senior citizens. Since I came, however, there have been people of color who have joined the church.

It is now about two years since we started and although there is no dramatic increase like we had experienced at St. James, we have halted what on first impression was an irreversible decline. From its 30 average Sunday attendance, it has increased to 42. Again, there are many factors of growth but the major one is the healing service that we have introduced. “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). His love, mercy and grace do not change. If He healed before, He is healing now and He will heal tomorrow.

I know we’re not supposed to say alleluia during Lent, but may I say Alleluia? It is because not only that many people who came for our healing service got healed. I was diagnosed with cancer myself. I underwent 45 days of radiation, but during those days I prayed for my healing and every Sunday, after I laid hands on people who come for healing, they too would lay hands on me. Last October 2017, my PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) had gone down from 5 to 1, and I am in remission–cancer free. Alleluia!

CAUSES OF SICKNESS

Now, let me enumerate the Causes of Sickness as the Bible says. There are three major spiritual causes of sickness. I would call them the three S’s: Sin, Satan, and Secret.

SIN: What is sin? I served in Singapore’s as priest at St. Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral from 1980-1986 as church planter and revitalizer of its two extension centers or daughter churches. Throughout those years, I would travel at least two to three times a year and Singapore Airlines would put a tag on our luggage, and you know what’s in the tag? “SIN,” an abbreviated word for Singapore. So in a sense, we carry a luggage of SIN when we go out from or return to Singapore–and of course, everywhere.

Sin is defined as “missing the mark.” God has given us the bullseye, His perfect will. Adam and Eve had everything in Paradise. There was eternal life. There was everything they needed. God was walking with them. They had it all! But they missed the mark through their disobedience. So driven East of Eden, their mortality came in. Sickness and death came to humanity. Adam and Eve are the paragon of all human beings. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

In the Roman Catholic catechism, there are 7 capital sins, capital comes from the word kaput, meaning head. These capital, head or cardinal sins are: Pride, Greed, Sloth, Avarice, Envy, Blasphemy, and Gluttony. Out of these “head sins,” came out diseases, and so the healing of sickness involves forgiveness of sins. In many of His healing ministries, Jesus would say, “Your faith has made you well; your sins are forgiven; go in peace” (Mark 2:5). James 5:14-15 says, “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he shall be forgiven.”

SATAN:  John 10:10a, Satan is described as a “thief.” Jesus said, “The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy” (Cf. Matt.9:22-23; Matt 5: 1-20; Luke 13:11-16). Satan inflicts sickness that steals away our health, our joy and our life but Jesus came to give us “life and have it abundantly.

SECRET: Secret means that God has a higher purpose in sickness. God does not afflict us with sickness, but sometimes God allows it to happen for a higher purpose. In the case of the blind man (John 9), whom Jesus healed, the people asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents?” and Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned but this happened so the work of God maybe manifest in his life.”

St. Paul himself had “a thorn in the flesh,” and he said it was to keep him from being puffed up with pride. He had sought the Lord’s healing but the Lord said “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10).

THERE ARE OTHER CAUSES OF SICKNESS AS THE BIBLE TELLS US. Here are some of them:

1.   BREAKING OF THE LAWS OF NATURE: (e.g. Overwork)

Now, let me just mention the name Epaphroditus in the Letter of Paul to the Filipinos, I mean to the Philippians (Philippians 2:25-30). When St. Paul was under house arrest in Rome, the church in Philippi gathered supplies and sent them to Rome by the hand of one of their own, a man named Epaphroditus.

Epaphroditus faithfully delivered the gift from his home church and then went above and beyond the call of duty. In his fervor to serve the Lord by serving Paul, Epaphroditus became seriously ill and, in fact, almost died. God graciously restored Epaphroditus to good health, and Paul sent his friend back home with the newly penned book, what is now known as The Epistle to the Philippians. This is part of what Paul wrote:

I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me. (Philippians 2:25-30)

So Epaphroditus was sent to help Paul but in his eagerness to help, he abused his body from overwork and instead of being of help, he became a burden for Paul. Has it ever happened that when in your eagerness to help a person who is drowning, you got so excited and jumped, not realizing that you are not superman and you yourself don’t know how to swim. You could have found a rope or a rubber life saver. Of course, it did not happen to you, otherwise you won’t be here.

During the charismatic movement in the Episcopal Church in the 1980’s, there was a nursery rhyme which says, “Mary had a little lamb, prayed all night, became a charismatic and died for lack of sleep.” Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we need to take care of our bodies even as God takes care of our souls.

2. ACCIDENT AND ITS AFTER EFFECT:

A woman had a lump on her breast as a result of a previous car accident; she did not do anything about it and later it turned into  breast cancer and had to be surgically removed.

3. INGRATITUDE:

In Luke 17:18, there were ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. But only one, a Samaritan, came back to give Him thanks. Most likely, their leprosy returned.

4. WRONGFUL PARTICIPATION IN COMMUNION:

In 1 Cor. 17:19-20, we are told to discern Christ’s Body in the Lord’s Supper. Where there is rupture in church relationships, where there are conflicts in the Body of Christ, we bring in sickness. Note that the word disease is a combination of two words: “dis” and “ease.” Where there is no peace, there is no ease, and that spells “dis-ease.”

5. INNER HURTS:

Inner hurts are often psychological but they also issue in physical ailment. People who suffer from inner hearts need inner healing. Once they are healed in their spirits, the physical healing follows. Some of the causes of inner hurts are:

REJECTION AS A CHILD: For example there are parents who attempted abortion but the child survived. That child might grow up with a feeling of being unwanted, especially when his parents had not sought forgiveness.

UNKIND COMPARISON BY FAMILY: For example, favoritism. It is not good for parents to compare their one child to another. Each person is unique.

SUFFERING ABUSE FROM AUTHORITY: Parents, teachers, pastors, leaders must be careful how they use their authority. It is a known fact that in our society, even Christians had become victims of abusive parents; even some bishops, priests, deacons, youth ministers have been convicted of child molestation, spousal abuse or domestic violence, either physically, sexually, verbally or emotionally.

BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS: Examples of this are unrequited love or infatuation (“fatal attraction”), nasty divorce, break-ups with no closure. Peace is not only the absence of war but the healing of ruptured relationships. One of my former counselees who suffered from a nasty divorce said that death might be better than divorce because “in death you would not see the person who victimized you, whereas in divorce you still see them.”

TRAUMAS: Attempted rape, molestation, sexual misconduct, being trapped in the dark. One of those who came for our healing service had a phobia of darkness; she sleeps with lights on and whenever someone would accidentally turn off the light, she would scream in fright. Then she remembered that when she was a child, her mother would punish him by locking him in the dark closet.

UNEXPRESSED GRIEF: Suppressed feelings of loss. I believe this is where the people in many Third World Countries would fare better than in our stiff upper lip affluent culture. There are cultures that frown upon emotional outpouring of grief. They say, it is not civil. But in reality, it is therapeutic to cry, even to cry aloud, if only to release our grief and pent-up emotions. In China, they even have professional mourners who would cry out aloud, so as to encourage the bereaved family to express their grief. Good grief, grief is good!

BULLYING VICTIM: Suppressed feelings of revenge. There had been several incidents where victims of bullying, feeling helpless and unable to release their confounded longings, decided to end their own lives and sometimes caused the death of others.

UNRESOLVED INNER HEARTS ARE EXPRESSED UNCONSCIOUSLY IN DEPRESSIONS, OBSSESSIONS, ADDICTIONS, MIGRAINES, ALLERGIES, DIGESTIVE AND SPINAL PROBLEMS AS WELL AS SERIOUS ONES LIKE CANCER AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES. WE NEED HEALING FROM INNER HURTS.

So what are the SOURCES OF HEALING?

1.  NATURE ITSELF (Psalm 139:13-16). Our Creator Father God has fashioned us in such a way that there are built-in healing mechanism, defined by science as our “immune systems.” For instance when we get wounded skin-deep, all we need to do is to clean the wound to prevent infection and our skin would heal itself.

2.   MEDICAL SCIENCE. March 6 in the Episcopal Church Calendar of “Holy Women, Holy Men” (now called “A Cloud of Witnesses”) is the commemoration of the feast days of the Mayos and the Menningers. They are outstanding Episcopalians who were medical doctors and psychiatrists. William Mayo and sons William James and Chaarles Horace were pioneers in interdisciplinary approach to medicine, which paved the way to what is now known as the Mayo Clinic. Charles Menninger and his sons Karl and Will, are outstanding psychiatrists who pioneered in humane treatment of the mentally-ill. The bottom line of their sainthood, if you may, was their ability to integrate their Christian faith into their medical practice. In the Episcopal Church, science and religion are not antithetical; they are interrelated and complementary. When medical science are at a loss, here comes the miracle worker of God as instrument of healing grace. Prayer and medicine doeth good together.

3.   SUPERNATURAL: Divine healing is defined as the restoration of the wholeness of spirit, mind and body. God is Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Human is also trinity: spirit, mind and body. So when the Holy Spirit communes with our spirit, there is healing. Some of the ways supernatural healing can come to us are through the following:

Personal prayer (Hezekiah in II Kings 20)- we can pray for ourselves. “Ask and you will receive; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7)

Intercession (Mark 8:13). Someone praying for the others; this is what we do in the Prayers of the People every Sunday. In Scriptures, the centurion interceded for his servant to Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy that you come under my roof but just say the word and my servant will be healed.”

Laying Hands on the sick (Mark 16:17).) This is practiced in our church.

Anointing with oil (James 5:14-15). A women’s Bible Study group read this part of scriptures and prayed for one member who was ill. They did not have the oil so one of them took a cooking oil and pour it down on the sick person. God honored their faith and healed the sick.

The Sick touches Jesus. In Mark 5:25-34, the woman who had hemorrhage touched the hem of Jesus’ robe and she got healed.

Laying on Hands on Yourself (Psalm 118:17). This morning I laid hands on my foot. I had too much walking at the airports and my shoes were not foot-friendly; I was limping yesterday so this morning I laid hands on my foot and prayed. “In the name of Jesus, feet be healed.” And now I can walk comfortably. Maybe I can even dance. LOL.

Prayer on Clothing, Handkerchiefs, etc.: In Acts 19:11-12, Peter prayed for things that people sent from their possessions. In Acts 15:15, the Holy Spirit came in mighty power that even though Peter could not lay hands on each of them in the crowd, whenever the shadow of Peter fall on them, they got healed.

The Lord’s Supper: 1 Corinthians 19:16 says that partaking the Body and Blood of Christ is participation in His Body. Whenever a Lay Eucharistic Minister visit the sick and bring communion, there is healing that takes place.

Confession: Dr. Karl Menninger whom I referred to earlier, wrote a book “Whatever Happened to Sin?” He was integrating the value of confession and forgiveness in mental healing. I John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins” but if we harbor iniquities in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us.

Word of God itself: Romans 30:17 “Faith comes by hearing” so if the sick sincerely listens to a sermon of faith, there is healing.

Now let me say something about DELIVERANCE MINISTRY. This is another whole topic which I do not have time for this lecture today. However, I’ve written it down in my new blog. You can access this at http://FredVergarabooks.blogsite.com.

Let me just say that the image for healing is “laying on of hands” as if the action is done by the “hand of God.” In deliverance, the image is “the finger of God.”

In Luke 11:19-20, Jesus said: “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come near you.”

In Matthew 12: 27-28, the finger of God is the Spirit of God. It pinpoints and touches a specific area of our life: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. The Spirit of God (the Finger of God) may touch you and minister to your needs; touches in the same manner as a surgeon’s knife can touch and cut out any intruder or invader.

So if we imagine medical science, healing can be compared to chemotherapy or radiation but deliverance can be compared to surgery. The word “ectomy” means removal; so mastectomy is removal of the cancerous tumor in the breast. So what about “spiritectomy?” as the removal of the evil spirits in the afflicted body?

VISUALIZATION AS MIDWIFERY

Hebrews 11: If “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” and visions and dreams are the language of the Holy Spirit, then we can visualize healing.

Visualization is an exercise in faith and faith has limitless possibilities (Matthew 21:21; Mark 9:23). If you are sick, you must release your faith by visualizing you are touching Jesus, like the woman who had been suffering from hemorrhage for 12 years touched the garment of Jesus and got healed (Mark 5:25).

The tasks of the healing team is “midwifery,” to assist the sick in releasing that faith. The midwife does not give birth; it is the pregnant woman who gives birth; but the midwife facilitates the contraction of the womb, to coach the mother to push, in order that the mother opens up her womb and finally give birth. So it is with healing; I am a man but with regards to healing, I like to think of myself as a midwife. Alleluia!

MODEL FOR HOLISTIC EVANGELISM AND HEALING

The TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM built by Solomon, son of David, is a model for holistic evangelism and healing ministry. Evangelism is healing of the whole person by the whole church in the whole world. The temple has three parts: the courtyard is where everyone, including the Gentiles can come; the Holy Place where the Jews come worship; and the Holy of Holies, covered by the veil, is where only the High Priest can enter, once a year on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) to offer sacrifice of blood of the lamb and incense before the mercy seat of God.

In healing, we look at the whole person as a trinity: spirit, mind and body. Body can be compared to the courtyard; holy place to the mind; and holy of holies to the spirit. It is when our spirits commune with the Holy Spirit and flows—from our spirit, to the mind, and to the body—that healing or wholeness is achieved.

At HOLY TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN Hicksville, New York, our program is called RED, meaning REVIVAL-EVANGELISM-DISCIPLESHIP and we have structured our week into this:

ON SUNDAYS, OUR WORSHIP BEGINS WITH:

9:30 A.M.:  HEALING SERVICE/HEALING TRAINING

10:00 A.M: HOLY EUCHARIST/HEALING-STATIONS

11:30 A.M:  FELLOWSHIP/COFFEE HOUR

12:00 NOON: TEACHING/TRAINING

– “Being  Episcopalian” Introductory Welcome Class

– Confirmation/Reception Courses

– Post-Confirmation “How to” Modules

– Gifts Discernment and Ministry Assignments

WEEKDAYS, WE MOTIVATE OUR CONGREGATION TO LET THEIR LIGHTS SHINE WHEREVER THEY GO.

MODEL OF A HEALING SERVICE

1.  Begin with Praise Songs: Praise is thanking God for what God has done. We rejoice, we clap our hands, we sing aloud with piano, guitar, tambourines, drums, etc.

2.  Continue with Worship Songs: While praise is thanking God for what God has done, worship is thanking God for who God is. When Job was blessed by God, he praised God. But when Job suffered loss, calamity and sickness he worshipped God saying, “The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Worship is beyond thanksgiving. So we raise our hands, we bow down before God, we surrender ourselves to God. “Let it be to me according to thy word. Not my will but thy will be done.” In the case of Job, after his testing, God restored his health, fortune and family double than before.

3.  Testimony or Teaching: Read a healing scripture and expound on the healing ministry

4.  Altar Call: Summon people to come for the laying on of hands with oil. A formula of prayers can be found on pages 453-461 of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) under the title “Ministration to the Sick.” A sample prayer says, “ from the Book of Common Prayer can be found from the Book of Common Prayer says: “ (Name___, I lay my hands upon you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, beseeching our Lord Jesus Christ to sustain you with His presence, to drive away all sickness of body and spirit, and to give you that victory of life and peace which will enable you to serve Him both now and evermore. Amen. If you are good in composing your own prayer, you may ask the person what do want me to pray for you? And then mention that in your prayer. Oftentimes when I pray I imagine something like this, “Heavenly Father, in the name of thy Son Jesus and by the power of thy Holy Spirit, I lay my hands upon this person and anoint him with oil. Grant him your healing touch from on top of his head down to the soul of his feet, healing him completely and restoring him to wholeness of spirit, mind and body. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

5.  Music and laying on hands support: I would often train and ask lay members to lay hands. It is ideal that one lays hand on the forehead and two others are at the back of the person. There are times when the person being prayed would fall down (“slain by the spirit”) and the two persons at the back would support or cushion him as he falls down in serenity and peace. Also it is good if there is a soft worshipful music as a background for prayer.

6.  Conclude with a word of encouragement and challenge them to share their story: For my mainly Asian audience as well as multicultural audience, I often teach them my Christian Tai Chi which says:

“I am a child of God; I stand on God’s holy Word; I breathe the Holy Spirit; and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I push out negative thoughts, I take in positive thoughts. I push out sickness, I take in good health. I push out poverty, I take in prosperity. I push out hate, I take in love. I push out despair, I take in hope; I push out sadness, I take in joy. And now, I will share the Good News to my family, to my friends, to my neighbors here and all over the world. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

7.  End with a Mission Song and Benediction: One of the contemporary songs says, Jesus speaking: “For I’m building a people of power; and I’m making a people of praise. That will move through this land by my Spirit and will glorify My precious Name.” And people responding, “Build Your Church, Lord; make us strong, Lord. Join our hearts Lord, through Son. Make us one, Lord, in Your Body, in the Kingdom of Your Son.”

CONCLUSION:

Jesus saves us for two main reasons: one, that we may have life abundant on earth and eternal life in heaven; and two, that we may become bringers or instruments of this message of abundant life and eternal life to others

“Evangelism is a proclamation of the whole Gospel to the Whole World by the Whole Church,” as the Lausanne Covenant for World Evangelization once defined. In the spirit of “think global, act loco (I mean local)” we must proclaim Christ wherever we are, in the life we lead and in the relationships we create. We must be ready to proclaim Christ in words, in deeds and even in silence.

St. Francis of Assisi said: “Proclaim the gospel all the time and if necessary, used words.” This is “contextual witnessing: everyone has a story to tell, “a story of truth and mercy, a story of love and light.” Every baptized Christian is a missionary, everyone is an evangelist, everyone is a midwife, everyone is a healer, everyone is an instrument in the hand of God who wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

“For the darkness shall turn to the dawning and the dawning to noonday bright. And Christ’s great kingdom shall come to earth, the Kingdom of love and light.” Amen.

For more information, contact:

The Rev. Canon Dr. Winfred “Fred” Vergara
Missioner, Asiamerica Ministries, The Episcopal Church
815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Mobile Phone: (646) 510-6918
Email: wvergara@episcopalchurch.org
www.episcopalchurch.org/asiamerica-ministries

For Facebook teachings, click #divinehealingvergara

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