It was the early 70s. The Beatles, public demonstrations and disorder (sound familiar?), gas shortage lines1, and the Vietnam war were in full swing. It was the “sign of the times.”
In 1971, the Jesus Revolution was Time magazine’s featured front cover. It was a period in history of soul searching, of looking inward. We were trying to figure out who and what we were, and where we were going as a human race. For me, I wanted the assurance of going to heaven when I died and not being left behind.
In January of ‘72, I became a believer in Jesus Christ during the Jesus Movement. The ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’ counterculture was discovering a new way to live as many “long beautiful hair, shining, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen, give me down to there hair, shoulder length or longer”2 haired hippies began to embrace the gospel. I was now “getting high on Jesus,” “Peace and Love.” Hey, what about “God is groovy” and “Smile God loves you.”
On my college campus, I made friends with a charismatic group of Jesus People who believed in miracles, signs and wonders, faith, healing, and powerful works of the Holy Spirit. Many testified to having supernatural experiences similar to those recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, especially speaking in tongues. I wanted what they had. And so, I began attending an Assembly of God church which operated in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
At first, my faith to believe in miracles was … well, let’s just say, challenged. In my previous church, I was taught miracles, signs, and wonders ended with the apostles. Many denominational churches and pastors are trained in skeptical unbelief and rejection of the supernatural. They do not believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as healing and words of knowledge, that they are for today. In Christianity, the word of knowledge is a spiritual gift listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8. It is simply the Holy Spirit transmitting His specific knowledge to you about someone or something that you would have no ability or means to be able to know otherwise with your limited intelligence and knowledge levels. It is supernatural knowledge and insight being given directly to you by the Holy Spirit Himself, not by your mind or your intelligence. These words of knowledge, which you can receive directly from the Holy Spirit, can literally cover an infinite number of things in your daily life from simple things such as where you misplaced your car keys to having a supernatural revelation about someone or yourself. Have any of you had a prophetic word of knowledge shared with you that was spot on? Ever wonder how they knew?
MY FAITH IS CHALLENGED
Back to the story. Eddie Smith, an evangelist faith healer, was coming to Kearny, New Jersey to lead a weekend healing revival service. I had heard of faith healers before, but mostly by hearing and reading accounts of famous people such as Smith Wigglesworth and Oral Roberts. There were numerous claims of divine healing during their ministries. Now I would get to see one.
Is freedom from disease God’s will on earth? Is the kingdom of God now in its fullness, meaning that healing and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today and not just for when we are resurrected with new bodies? Perhaps these questions would be put to bed after this weekend. No more questioning. PROOF that miracles, signs, and wonders are for today!
I asked my younger brother, who was also a new Christian if he wanted to go with me. He replied that he would. So, the two of us on a Friday evening hopped in my Forest Green 1968 Volkswagen Beetle and drove to the church where the revival was happening. If you weren’t looking for it, it was easy to pass by. The small suburban white clapboard Assembly of God church on Elm Street had no parking and sat nestled between houses no more than 20 to 25 feet apart on a tree-lined street resulting in it blending in with the other houses. The church, as you can see from the picture below was neither attractive nor spacious, although, it comfortably accommodated a small congregation of people just under a hundred. There were no ornate stain-glassed windows, church bells, or an inviting entranceway or vestibule as many might be accustomed to. It was plain to look at on the outside, but on the inside, there was something extraordinary about to happen.
My brother and I waited momentarily under the aluminum awning behind other attendees ahead of us. As we approached the door, a man warmly greeted us. “Welcome. Glad to see you.” We acknowledged his greeting and then went in.
Inside, the room was already packed to overflowing. We were fortunate to find a couple of seats on the end of a pew about 8 rows back from the front where I could stretch out my long legs into the aisle. We then sat back and waited for the service to start.
There was a buzz in the air with people talking loudly while others sat quietly, anxiously waiting for the service to begin. Not long afterward, the senior pastor of the Assembly then quieted the room and opened with prayer and singing before introducing Eddie Smith. Like most churches, there was no clapping to welcome the guest evangelist and faith healer, as would have been customary if this were a theatrical production. But this was not theater; this was a REVIVAL!
Eddie Smith opened with a couple of jokes in typical British humor. “Who here has a crick in their neck?” A guy in the audience stood up. “I am suffering from a pain in the neck,” he said. “Well,” Eddie Smith replied with a sly smile, “will you please ask your wife to approach the altar?” Sounds like Smith was trying to get to the real source of this guy’s “pain in the neck.” LOL.
Eddie Smith was a heavyset man with an authoritative presence. I looked curiously on as he had words of knowledge of healing for those in attendance. “Who in this room is suffering from one leg being shorter than the other?” Unequal leg length is a rare condition where the legs are either different lengths or appear to be different lengths because of misalignment. “The Lord wants to heal you,” he said. A person stood up and made his way to the front of the room. There was an abnormal gate to his stride. Smith asked him to sit down in a chair and stretch out both legs so that he could assess his condition. There was an expectancy in the room that something miraculous was about to happen. I looked on in wonderment, hoping. Would one of his legs actually grow out? “In the Name of Jesus,” Eddie Smith commanded the one short leg to grow out, and it did! The room erupted in loud shouts of praise and raising of hands. Many more healings also happened that night. This made me want to come back the next evening. What miracles would God do again on Saturday? I looked forward with expectancy.
The second evening of meetings was also packed to overflowing. You could just feel the excitement and expectation. Much the same as the previous night, Eddie Smith had words of knowledge for those who needed healing, and again many were healed. Then I heard, “Who in this room has plantar warts?” I was stunned, shocked into disbelief. How could he know that I suffered from plantar warts? Plantar warts are small growths that usually appear on the heels or other weight-bearing areas of your feet that can cause extreme pain. It was true that I suffered from plantar warts, but I thought Eddie Smith couldn’t mean “Little, Ol’ Me.” I reasoned it must be someone else. And so, I did not respond, nor did anyone else answer the invitation to go forward for plantar warts. When I didn’t respond, Eddie Smith continued inviting others to be healed for other ailments. Why didn’t I go out on a limb? Was it because I might risk failing, or look foolish? I didn’t like being the center of attention. But mostly, I believe it was to deflect disappointment if I were not healed of my plantar warts.
Again, Eddie Smith made the same invitation as earlier – “There is someone here with plantar warts. Won’t you please come forward?” Nothing. Crickets. No one moved. Deep inside I knew the invitation was for me, but I still didn’t respond. “Nope! Can’t do it. No way!”
It was not until the third and final invitation of the evening that my brother nudged me. That’s you, bro. You have to go up.” I was stubborn and refused to budge. “This is the 3rd and last time I will make this invitation for someone with plantar warts to come forward. I want you to come up here right now!” Finally, my brother then got this brilliant idea to push me out of my pew. The next thing I knew, I stood frozen like a deer in headlights for everybody to notice. It was too late for me to retreat, so, I tepidly approached Eddie Smith. He was expectantly waiting.
As I stood there, Eddie Smith laid hands on me and called on all of heaven and the Name of Jesus to heal me from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. It was not some feeble prayer lacking strength or boldness. “O God. You invite all who are burdened to come to You. We, therefore, implore thee Almighty Father to heal, should it be your gracious and sovereign will.” It was instead with authority that Eddie Smith commanded. “In Jesus’ Name, plantar warts leave right now! GO! In the Name of Jesus.” There was no reservation or doubt in his voice, only a complete and unwavering faith that I would be healed by the blood of Jesus.
Reaching out His hand, He touched him, saying, “I am willing; be made clean,” and immediately the disease left him. (Luke 5:13)
What was I feeling? To be honest, I felt nothing short of nothing. Crazy, huh? I didn’t fall to the floor and start to shake and roll. I didn’t feel a surge of electricity go through me or tingling in my extremities. My eyes didn’t flutter, nor did I hear God speak audibly or even in a small still voice to my spirit. I felt nothing. I heard nothing. Absolutely, NOTHING! I was more self-conscious of being the focus of everyone’s attention and looking foolish, that I moved rather quickly back to my seat after Eddie Smith finished praying for me. Phew! That was embarrassing.
When I got home that night, I went straight to my room to get ready for bed. As I sat on the edge of my bed, I began taking my sock off when my hand rubbed against the bottom of my foot. I was completely taken by surprise as I wasn’t expecting to be healed. Miraculously, the bottom of my foot felt smooth and without blemish. God had completely healed me of plantar warts! To this day, they have never returned!
MULTIPLE FAITHS AT WORK
God works in miraculous ways, despite our inadequacies and little faith. Did I believe in healing for myself? I wasn’t sure. However, there had to have been a mustard seed of faith to bring me and my brother to the revival meeting.
Matthew 17:20 “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
It took my brother’s little faith to push me and encourage me to move from my seat so that I might experience more of God.
It took Eddie Smith’s great faith to command, with the authority he had in Jesus’ Name, “Be healed!” As the disciples were empowered to do the things that Christ did, so are we today. John 14:12-14 is a wonderful verse that we must believe is for TODAY.
Sometimes it is also through God’s prophetic word and others’ testimonies of personal healing that move us to greater faith to believe.
Ultimately, however, it was because Jesus heard the Father’s heart for me. It was because of the Father’s tender kindness, His grace, His compassion, and His constant love for me that He chose to heal me. (Psalm 69:16).
Has this whet your appetite to hear more? I want to create hunger in you to desire more Holy Spirit as it did for me following that evening in 1973.
Take a moment to sit quietly with the Lord and invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about God’s heart for you. God desires to not only save us but to empower us and commission us to do the things Jesus did. It is God’s will for you to grow in faith. God desires to heal your body and soul. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you His truths in scripture.
“I tell you this timeless truth: The person who follows me in faith, believing in me, will do the same mighty miracles that I do—even greater miracles than these because I go to be with my Father! For I will do whatever you ask me to do when you ask me in my name. And that is how the Son will show what the Father is really like and bring glory to him. Ask me anything in my name, and I will do it for you!” – John 14:12-14
Have you personally received healing in your life or administered healing in the Name of Jesus? What was your experience? Would you share it?
Copyright 2020 by Bill Hutzel
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1 America Out of Gas – A Lesson in Patience by Bill Hutzel, 2016
2 “Hair” by the Cowsills, 1969