Healing ministry in Kenya

Students’ faith inspires priest in teaching mission
March 31, 2006

The Rev. Paul Feider is the pastor of St. John’s Episcopal Church and Center For Inner Peace in New London, Wis. He has been involved in the Christian healing ministry for 34 years. Recently, he was invited to Kenya to teach clergy and lay leaders about the ministry of healing. Below, he shares his experience.

My recent two-week trip to Kenya touched my life in a profound way and opened my eyes again to a new awareness of poverty and the power of a Christian commitment. I was invited by Bishop Timothy Ranji to teach the clergy and lay people of his diocese of Mount Kenya South about the healing ministry of Jesus. St. Paul’s Theological College, located in that diocese, also asked me to teach a number of classes on Christian healing ministry.

When I arrived in Kenya, I rendezvoused with the medical mission team from St. Thomas Church in Menasha, who had worked several much-needed days administering medical care to the poor. Their stories were inspiring.

I started my teachings by addressing 120 clergy of the diocese for a day. They were very open to the teaching on healing. I presented the scriptural basis of Christian healing ministry; giving them courage to use the tools of the Anglican Church to wrap people in God’s healing love. When they prayed with each other at the end of the day in groups of four, they said they experienced Jesus’ healing power and went home ready to integrate the healing ministry into every part of their parish life.

I also presented a day on healing for the lay leaders and another day for the parish evangelists. The bishop had told me that the growth of the church in his diocese was happening primarily through the power of the Holy Spirit being manifested by the evangelists who went into the homes, inviting people to discover the power of God’s love.

This group of evangelists touched my heart with their enthusiastic singing and proclaiming Jesus’ message of salvation. When they prayed with each other in small groups, one of them said he felt his headache go away immediately. After their prayer, they just kept singing the praises of God. Their praise was awesome and inspiring. They had a fire in their hearts that was contagious.

On Sunday while in Kenya, I was asked to preach at the two Holy Communion services in the cathedral. After the pastor heard me teach that week, he asked if we could make these healing Communion services. This we did.

More than 1,000 people showed up for the two services, and very many of them came forward for anointing with oil and prayer by the bishop and myself. The associate pastor said he had never seen that much enthusiasm and uplifting singing in the cathedral before. They had never done a healing service before.

At the second service, we anointed people for an hour, and all the people stayed and sang for the whole time. The next day one woman met us. Her eyes told me that something significant had happened to her. With excitement in her voice, she told of how her legs were healed during the Sunday service.

Hungry for scriptural message

During those healing services, something else happened that was profound. These poor people who came to the service brought food for the starving people in the north of Kenya. I had tears in my eyes as I watched these people bring forth gifts of food for people who were even less fortunate than they were. What an inspiring gesture, poor people sharing little with others who had less.

It was inspiring to be with Bishop Ranji, who is a true man of God and an evangelist to the core. I had a chance to drive around the diocese with him. It was a great joy to listen to his vision for each area. Despite the poverty, he has a vision of how the diocese might work together to minister to the needs of the people with the message of Jesus’ love.

The tour tugged at my heart as I saw poverty as I had not seen since my trip to Guatemala. Despite the poverty, people held on to the hope that God brings to their life.

Two afternoons teaching at the Theological College made me aware of how thirsty the students were for the scriptural message of healing. After I presented the gospels on healing, they kept asking questions on how they might bring this ministry to their parishes. One student told of how the sick people keep coming to the clergy seeking healing prayers, yet the clergy are unsure of how to respond. Our sharing time gave them courage to step out in faith and use the power of the Holy Spirit to minister healing in the name of Jesus.

Another part of these two days included talking at a retreat center with nine priests from the north of Kenya, where the drought is taking its toll. It was inspiring just to sit with these clergy. They live out among the very poor, bringing hope in the power of Jesus. They start churches, set up medical clinics, open schools and preach under trees, all in the name of Jesus. They soaked in every word as I shared about the healing power of Jesus available to us by our baptism. I soaked in their deep love for Jesus that was evident in their eyes.

On one of the last days, we had the inspiring privilege to talk with the archbishop of Kenya, Benjamin Nzimbi. He thanked me for coming with the message of healing, for he also believed in God’s healing power.

Many people thanked me for the teachings I did on the Christian healing ministry, but I do not know if I can thank them enough for what they gave me. Their commitment to Jesus, their enthusiasm for the gospel of Christ, their inspiring singing and their readiness to die for the gospel were gifts that are beyond words of thanks. They gave me a life testimony that inspired me to preach the word, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, and to never lose sight of the mission of leading all people to the heart of God. I will never forget the looks in their eyes and the fire in their hearts.

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