Another well-knwon faith healer of prominence was Mrs. Agnes Sanford. Ms. Sanford was the daughter of a Presbyterian missionary, and the wife of an Episcopal rector who lived in New Jersey. Mrs. Sanford reports the case of a Mr. Williams who was unconscious and whose heart had swollen until it filled almost the whole chest, every valve had burst and was leaking like a sieve. After praying, she reports she could feel the heart beats becoming more quiet and regular. A doctor later confirmed that the heart had gone back to its normal size. Mrs. Sanford says, “In this case, prayer with the laying on of hands was the specific remedy for a wrecked heart.”
A Mr. Henry Branham was a game warden in Indiana who turned into a faith healer in 1946, and for some time after that attracted large crowds in that part of the U.S. and Southern Canada. He claims to have cured people suffering from nearly every known disease. Those of you who will admit your age may remember Mrs. Aimee Semple McPherson who filled the newspapers in the 1920s. Mrs. McPherson founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and there are some 400 of those churches still surviving, and like Mrs. McPherson, still practicing faith healing.
Mr. oral Roberts is probably the most widely known faith healer in America today. He had a network of 98 stations carrying his TV broadcasts. In 1955, his headquarters in Tulsa announced that they had outgrown the three-story building they were in and that they had purchased a 175-acre site for the 180 employees. Roberts also edited the magazine “America’s Healing Magazine” which was aimed at a subscription list of 500,000 in 1954. Here are some of the diseases the magazine says have been spiritually cured: gall bladder attacks, arthritis, cancer, rheumatic fever, asthma, blindness, stuttering, injuries, paralysis, tuberculosis and goiter. Another magazine called “The Voice of Healing” tells of a boy in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, named Ronald Coyne who lost an eye in an accident and had it replaced with a plastic eye. A woman evangelist, not knowing that he had a plastic eye, prayed over him and the boy discovered that he could see through this eye whether the plastic eyeball was in or out.
These people have all been part of the Protestant faith, but Protestants are not the only ones who have faith healers. Most of you have read of the Lourdes shrine in France, and of the wonderful cures reported to have occurred there. There are supposed to be hundreds and thousands of people who attend the shrine during the period of nine days devotion. Other Catholic shrines are the Fatima in Portugal, St. Anne of Beaupre in Canada and St. Anne of Detroit in Detroit. There are reported great heaps of crutches, canes, braces and eye glasses around these shrines as proof of their effectiveness.
In addition, there are other sects more or less remotely connected to the Christian faith who practice faith healing. The Christian Scientists practice it completely and the Christian Scientists are reported now to be using TV to propagate their beliefs, using the program to both explain their beliefs and to broadcast testimonials of those who have been cured. There are many other sects around the country who practice faith healing among which the better known are the Assemblies of God, and the Pentecostal sects, but perhaps those who get more publicity from time to time are the snake handlers of Tennessee and Kentucky. They believe Mark 16:18 that true Christians should have faith in God’s power to heal even the bite of a rattlesnake deliberately handled.
Finally, if we are to be inclusive in the discussion of Faith Healing, we must not leave out the non-Christian healers. These include many ancient and modern healers such as the religious leaders of the ancient Egyptians, Mohammedans and Buddhist monks, as well as primitive pagan priests.
Many of you have read of the baseball player Herb Score who was hit with a batted ball early one summer and nearly lost his eyesight. Dr. Norman Lincent Pearle wrote in the Houston Post that Herb Score and his family were very devout, and that they had prayed long for the healing of his eye. However, Dr. Pearle reports that when Herb was 3 years old, he was run over by a truck and his legs crushed. The doctors recommended an operation, but first his mother asked the priest to visit. The priest visited the boy, prayed over him and touched him with a holy relic of St. Jude. Dr. Pearle records that overnight, the legs straightened out and an operation was not necessary.