Monday, February 11, 2008

Faith Healing

I had an indirect experience with faith healing when I was a child. I had to use a wheelchair because of a bone disease, Legg-Perthes or necrosis of the femur. One weekend afternoon, my mother and I were coming home from the park (You can fly a kite from a wheelchair). Mother was pushing me in my wheelchair. A car passed us, then pulled to the curb. A well-dressed, older man got out and came over to us. He handed mother a business card and explained that he was with the Oral Roberts crusade in town that week. There would be a healing service tonight. He suggested that she bring me. Mother politely declined. I thought that was the end of the conversation.

The man persisted. He asked me what was wrong with me. At eleven, I was only too happy to engage an adult in conversation. I babbled the name of my disease and how it had affected me. The man visibly brightened as I talked. He beamed at my mother and told her that many children with my malady had been healed through Reverend Roberts. She must bring me to the service. Mother told him the truth. We did not have a car; we probably would not come.

"That is not a problem," the man said. "We can send a car for you."

My mother smiled, her sweet smile that meant she was up to no good. "I do appreciate that, but I can arrange transportation. Now, I need to get home."

"Do come. Your child will be healed," the man called after us.

I already knew that we were not going. Mother's march home told me she was upset. When we reached our house, she explained. "God can heal you. I always pray for that. You don't need a faith healer."

Some weeks later, I had my regular check-up with my orthopedist. Not much had changed. I was surprised when he brought up Oral Roberts. Mother recounted our experience. I think the doctor looked at her with new respect.

"You know your child could walk now, but it would do irreparable damage to the bone. There have been children who think they have been healed by faith healers. These children leave their wheelchairs and walk.
None have been healed. You did the right thing."

Eventually, my femur did heal, not perfectly, but well enough for me to be able to walk. Mother and I did not discuss that encounter with the recruiter for Oral Roberts for many years. When we did, I thanked her for being so sensible. She just smiled that sweet smile.

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