CHAPTER ONE: SURPRISED BY THE SPIRIT
In March of 2000 I had an appointment with the late Dr. Steven Williams, then head of oncology for Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine. My purpose for setting the meeting was to request and gain approval and assistance to conduct healing prayer research in the medical school. Upon walking into his spacious office, he motioned for me to sit down in a chair right in front of his large wooden desk, which appeared to be made of cherry wood. As he looked at me over his partial rimmed reading glasses, we shared introductions and pleasantries. Then I got to the purpose of my visit—the reason for which I had scheduled the meeting. I introduced him to the Christian healing ministry as I understood it and suggested that studying healing principles from a biblical perspective may provide benefits to the cancer patients under his care.
His response was less than glowing. So, I began asking questions, attempting to discover whether he was a man of faith. And although he was neither antagonistic nor unfriendly, he was quite reserved. And no wonder, he didn’t know me or my true motivation for being in his office that day. As our meeting continued he seemed to be holding everything in, not letting me into his world. It felt to me as if he had on what has been termed a “poker face”. And he wasn’t about to let me see the cards in his hand. After attempting to probe, prod, and postulate to no avail, I concluded that our visit was proving unfruitful and that there was no need to keep going. This was the first time we had met, which may have accounted for his reserved demeanor. In my mind I began planning my escape. I pictured just how I would end the meeting to both save face and secure Dr. William’s comfort level with the final outcome of our meeting.
He was responding to one of my questions, and honestly I wasn’t listening to his response. Mentally, I was working on my exit strategy, waiting for him to finish so I could wrap up the meeting and excuse myself. When all of a sudden the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me! Now for some I know this may be foreign. It may seem unlikely, preposterous, even sacrilegious, but I know of no other way to explain what happened next. And after seeing the path my life has taken I have no doubt who it was that spoke to me that day in late March. In the middle of planning my exit I was arrested by a voice that said, “Tell him to look out the window”. I argued within myself, this makes no sense. Tell him to look out the window for what, I replied. I didn’t want to do it. And again the voice said, “Tell him to look out the window”.
Dr. Williams was still speaking, finishing his response to one of my earlier questions. He appeared pleased with his answer, through which he was assuring me of his vast knowledge of cancer treatment and care—a knowledge that far exceeded my own. When he finished speaking, against my better judgment I said, “Dr. Williams, look out the window”. I had no idea what I would say next. I watched as he turned slowly to his right to look out of the large picture window that brightened his office. I too looked out the window as if straining for further instruction. But as I did I noticed (in my hurry to get to the meeting that morning, I hadn’t really paid much attention earlier) it was a bright, sunny, gorgeous day. The sky was a rich color of blue and there was hardly a cloud in it. The sun beamed spreading its warmth across campus. And a tree just outside Dr. Williams’ window cast a shadow monitoring the amount of sunlight allowed in the room. If one looked just to the left of the trees the sight was beautiful to behold. The sun was shining on the grass which was a fresh, spring bud green having rebounded from the harsh winter just past.
After I asked Dr. Williams to look out the window, the words started to flow and I began to say, “You see the trees, the sun, the sky and the grass? In the Christian faith we believe all of these things were created by God.” Then I asked him, “Are you following me?” He said, “Yes.” I continued, “So everything you can see outside was created by a God who is invisible and cannot be seen.” I asked again, “Are you following me?” He said, “Yes.” I then said, “In the case of cancer, it can be seen under a microscope and in X-rays. I believe there is something invisible behind the cancer giving life to it. You see, cancer grows and only living things grow. If by spiritual means you could restrain or destroy the life force behind the cancer then you could eradicate the cancer.” I had never heard anything like this before and was surprised these words were coming out of my mouth. Although I was familiar with the concept in principle, the specific application for cancer was completely new to me.
Dr. Williams’ reaction to this paradigm shift was even more amazing to me. To this point I had never heard anyone postulate that cancer cells, atoms and subatomic particles have a root and foundation that does not originate in the physical world. So, atoms and subatomic structures are built upon spiritual not natural principles. If this truth could be submitted as theory and proven in a clinical setting, it could change the way people think about disease, medicine, medical research and medical science in general. Dr. Williams’ posture changed. His shoulders dropped and he began shaking his head slowly from side to side as tears started welling up in the outer corners of his eyes and then rolled down his cheeks. I had no idea what brought about this reaction.
He then repeated over and over nine words that changed the meeting, and my future. “There’s allot of truth in what you’re saying. There’s allot of truth in what you’re saying. There’s allot of truth in what you’re saying. There’s allot of truth in what you’re saying.” Finally, he admitted, as if he were in a confessional with a priest, “I know we can do more for our patients.” He then proceeded to give me names of the department heads in the IU School of Medicine and suggested that I speak with each of them. Subsequently, I met Dr. Vimal Patel and Dr. Palmer Mackie, who ran the school’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) program. Dr. Patel would eventually ask me to lecture in the program. Also, I was able to meet with Dr. Douglas Zipes, then head of cardiology, who told me a story where he was recruited to attend a healing meeting as a plant, but later left the meeting feeling more like a believer than a skeptic. I began working with his team to put together a prayer healing study .
I met Dr. Kenneth Brandt, then head of rheumatology. He and his assistant met with the late Dr. E. Stanley Kardatzke, Dr. Edward L. Foggs and me. We discussed using prayer and other biblical healing methodologies for arthritis patients. While in the meeting, Dr. Brandt received an important phone call and had to leave the room momentarily. While he was gone, his assistant motioned to us drawing us closer. Then she told us her story. She told us how when she was a young girl her baby brother had tuberculosis and was dying. One day she was watching TV and Oral Roberts was on conducting a televised healing service. She then disclosed to us that at the end of the service Rev. Roberts asked all that were sick to place their hands on the TV screen for healing. She said she carried her brother in her arms to the TV and placed his hands on the screen. She then reported to us that her brother did not die, but was completely healed! Then she said, “I’m so glad you are looking into doing research on healing and prayer.” These events culminated in the development of a unique spiritual healing research proposal created by Dr. Kardatzke and me.