... From the Goodnews archives, March/April 2005
Faith and Healing
Kristina Cooper interviews Damian Stayne, founder of Cor et Lumen Christi and the initiator of the very popular charism schools, which have been training Catholics over the last few years in the use of the charisms of healing and prophecy.
DAMIAN: Over the last three years we have done about 30 schools and more than 5000 people have done them. As well as England and Ireland, we have also done several in Poland, Portugal and in East Africa - Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
G: Why did you feel it was important to start running the Charism School?
D: I was worried that in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in England, at least, that we were depending on a just a few gifted people to minister effectively and powerfully in healing and deliverance or prophecy and the word of knowledge and when those people (who are mostly elderly) died there was a real danger of this ministry dying out with them.
G: Why do you think this is?
D: I think it is because many people have never had the necessary training or really grasped the role of the gift of faith in healing. It is not enough to simply believe that miracles can happen, we need to have the faith to believe that God will use us, and this is not something we can psyche ourselves up for, it is a gift from God, and it is a gift we have to really desire and ask for. We will not be very effective or see great healings without the gift of faith.
G: Do you have experience of this yourself?
D: Yes. Right from the beginning
in our community we prayed for healing, and experienced quite a lot
of it, including a considerable number of physical healings, but it
wasn't matching up to the promises of the gospel. We didn't see the
things Jesus spoke of the blind getting new sight, the deaf hearing
and the lame walking.
D: Four or five years ago we had a visit from a priest from Potta, in India who ran a retreat for us in Chertsey. This was the first time I actually saw someone being healed of blindness. It happened in 30 seconds. You couldn't doubt it. The following year, as usual, our community was leading the healing team at the Celebrate conference and I felt called to repent for my lack of faith and to pray for greater miracles to happen at the conference. I really felt that God wanted to do more and I prayed for more faith. I had to spend time in real repentance and go to confession. I felt strongly the need to be right with God for him to use me, as sin can get in the way to hearing God and moving in the annointing.
G: What happened?
D: It was on the last night at the end of the healing service. I was ministering among the crowd while everyone was worshipping and I was praying with someone for the grace of evangelisation when I felt something in my back. I recognised this as a word of knowledge. I knew the Lord was calling me to pray with someone with a back problem. I turned round and saw a lady, sitting in her wheelchair. I was horrified, and my first reaction was 'I don't do wheelchairs'. I asked her what was wrong and she told me it was her back. I was afraid to pray for her in case nothing happened but I knew God was calling me to trust in the faith I had been asking for. I called over a couple of the community to join me in praying for her. She was on massive doses of pain killers and even so had great pain when standing and walking. She told me she hadn't walked without her zimmer frame for years but after no more than a couple of minutes prayer she got up out of her wheelchair and then walked and ran around the hall with no pain. Her husband, who was also her carer, was amazed when she walked down the drive, when she arrived home. I have kept in touch with her and five years later she is still fine and leading a normal life. This healing, however, really changed things for me and helped both increase my faith, and make me want more. Then in 2001 I wrote the Charism School to train and encourage people to have faith that God can use them powerfully in the Charisms including healing.
G: Have there been any other key influences for you?
D: Yes, another was reading about Smith Wigglesworth. He was a humble Pentecostal from Yorkshire, who ministered in the first half of the 20th century. He saw amazing miracles through his ministry, and possessed a tremedous gift of faith. I learnt from him about the power that can be released through the Word of Command. Sometimes up to three quarters of the people at his healing services were healed. He highlighted for me the importance of the role of faith, in healing and miracles and I started praying and repenting everyday for my lack of faith for miracles. I asked God to use me to heal the blind, the deaf, the dumb, those on crutches, with cancer or incurable diseases and even raise the dead.
G: And did you find this happened?
D: The first time I had the faith to use the word of command in front of a congregational had used it before on a one to one occasionally) was when we were leading a Charism School in Poland. During the healing workshop, I suddenly felt a prompting of the Lord to ask people with cancer to stand up, while I cursed their tumours commanding them to disappear in the name of Jesus. One of the women who had had several operations for cancer and whose tumours had come back was healed. Within 24 hours all her lumps had vanished. She is still perfectly well today. At most schools since then we have seen people healed through the word of command. The most spectacular time, however, was when we went to Tanzania last year. It was at a Catholic rally, there were so many people present - about 7000 people on the first day, (rising to 15000 on the third and final day) - that I realised there was no way that we could even begin to pray personally for everyone there, so I prayed for them with the word of command, calling out the various problems and illnesses I felt the Lord telling me to.
G: What was the response?
D: It was incredible. So many people stood up to say they had been healed that we thought they had misunderstood what we had asked, but the organisers assured us that nobody would dare claim a healing who hadn't had one. We videoed some of the testimonies, because people would never believe it otherwise. On the first day for example about 160 people stood to witness that they had their eyesight healed instantly. This was followed by healing of deafness, dumbness, lameness, tumours etc. One woman testified that she had had a tumour in her neck the size of a balloon for 40 years. The doctors had told her it was too dangerous to remove and medical treatment had failed. It completely vanished over night. All you could see afterwards was saggy skin around her neck where it had once been. All in all, over the three days, we reckon about about 15,000 people stood to witness that they had been healed.The Africans were so impressed themselves with what God was doing that they have invited us back to lead two Catholic Miracle rallies, the first of their kind in Tanzania.
G:Have the healings been as spectacular in Britain?
D: No, as you might imagine things are generally more low key in Britain but that is changing. We have begun to see what I consider as the New Testament signs -healing of blindness, deafness and people on crutches being cured at our gatherings as well as incurable deseases in increasing numbers. And at the Brentwood Charism School last year God gave me the faith to minster publically in the word of command for the first time in England. He told me to step out and pray with people with things wrong with their shoulders and arms (some the result of serious injuries). As a result five people who couldn't lift or bend their arms freely were able to do so straight away. At the monthly Day of Renewal at the Friends Meeting House in London in December last year, 50 people claimed healings of one kind or another through the word of command including healing of eyesight, deafness and problems with walking. It is very moving to see the delight or tears on the faces of people healed by Jesus. We film every event now as we realise that we should have a record and in time hope to make a video/dvd to encourage the faith of others.
G: Why do you think there are less healings in Britain than Africa?
D:I think it is a question of faith and need. It was the same in Jesus' time too. Even he couldn't heal many people in Nazareth where he grew up because of their lack of faith. I can understand why he started his ministry in the backwaters of Galilee rather than in sophisticated Jerusalem. It seems that those who are more aware of their poverty and need tend to possess greater faith for miracles.
G: Have you had a good response from the Charism Schools?
D: Very good, people are very anxious to grow in their understanding of the charisms. The school is a mixture. It centres on both what the bible and the Catholic Church teach about the charisms and explains about the importance of the gift of faith in this. Participants are then given an opportunity to put what they have leamt into practice by praying with the people at the school, and finally we have a healing outreach when they can pray for others.
G: Do participants on the courses find that the people they pray for are healed?
D: Yes. Because of the teaching and the environment of faith, when they pray for healing they find people are being healed. Even in England on average one in 4 or 5 on the course receive physical healing. Unfortunately it sometimes stops there. Growing in faith is an ongoing process. I think many of us do not pray for faith and repent for lack of it because we haven't realised how much what we are doing has been restrained and limited by the smallness of our faith. God's gifts are free in one sense, but it seems that there is a price to be paid for them through intercession, obedience and self sacrifice. In Africa, after the Charism Schools they immediately start putting into practice what they have leamt, and they have told me that the numbers of healing are increasing a lot. In Britain, however, there sometimes isn't the forum to put the charisms into practice. I encourage people to start arranging monthly healing services or even visiting other groups, because if people just stay in the safety of their group, they don't see a sustained increase in healings. In my own community, for example, one of our community members has epilepsy and my wife Cath suffers from benign tumours in her head, which despite all our prayers don't seem to get healed, yet when we pray for others, they are healed. I remember my dad saying to me recently, that a healing gift is not for the convenience of our friends and family. He's right. It is primarilly for the confirmation of the gospel and extending the kingdom.
G:Do you pray for individual healing on a one to one basis?
D: People have different callings, and I feel my main charism is really teaching and exhortation and to encourage people to use the charisms. It is also to help restore to the Church the signs and wonders model of evangelisation, which I feel has tended to get sidelined. This method of preaching the Word and then expecting God to back up what you say with signs and wonders was the method Jesus used and it is still valid today. Every time we go out to preach or train God 'adds His testimony' Heb 2, and people are physically healed.
G: Why do you think Signs and Wonders are important in evangelisation today?
D: People today feel threatened and insecure about many things and they need to feel there is someone good and powerful who loves them and can protect and help them. Thus I feel demonstrations of God's power are important, particularly in the area of healing. They are a sign that his kingdom is coming. In recent years there has been an upsurge in interest and openness to spiritual things. One only has to see the attraction people have for New Age therapies. They believe in supernatural healing, and will go where it is offered, so it is important that we can show our God is greater and more effective than all those other gods in the market place. I believe the credibility of the gospel is at stake and people want to know where true spiritual authority lies. Signs and wonders can give a clear demonstation that Jesus is alive and is Lord of all.
G: You are organising a Signs and Wonders conference this July at the Friends Meeting House in London. Tell me about it.
D: Yes. We have run two Signs and Wonders conferences in Chertsey. At the last one we have over 200 people and we felt the Lord telling us to step out in faith and hire a bigger venue. We booked the Friends Meeting House (which holds 1100 people) for the 9th and 10th July . The only problem was we needed £5000 within two weeks to pay for it. We made one verbal appeal and within 3 days a cheque came in the post that covered not only the full cost of the conference centre but all the money we needed for 10,000 printed leaflets. We see this as a confirmation that God is really getting behind the conference and that it is something really important for the Catholic Church. We believe that this kind of event should be available to all, so like all our events it will be on a donation only basis. It is the first big Catholic conference that we know of in England to focus on healing signs and wonders. Eamonn Pugh and his team, who many will know from Celebrate, will be leading the praise and worship. The speakers will include Bishop David Pytches, Fr Pat Collins CM and myself. The basic structure of each session will be praise and worship, preaching, healing and ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit, so there will be many opportunities for God to confirm his Word with signs and wonders. And of course, there will also be daily Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. We believe this is an event for those involved in the renewal but also has a much wider appeal and we are very excited about it all.