New to Church?
Meet The Team
What To Expect
Kingz Kidz (5s—11s)
Older Teens (14s–18s)
Craft and Chatter
Resources + Events
Resources + Events
Your Special Day
Emmanuel Church, Plymouth
in partnership with
St Paul's, Efford
Tony's Reflection 62
Have you ever seen a miracle of healing?
We are grateful for times when medical treatment works unexpectedly well, with or without prayer. That’s not the kind of miracle I am asking about, though. I mean a time when healing has come purely through prayer.
I have received a few significant healings myself, although one of mine involved medical treatment and another has been partial. I am hugely thankful to God for both. I can quite happily tell you more, if you are interested.
Both of these, though, pale into insignificance next to what happened to Jean Neil, back in 1988 at Birmingham NEC. Hers is such an amazing story, I have given you an extract, at the end of this reflection, from a book by the preacher who prayed for her, telling you exactly what happened. You can even hear Jean and her friends telling the story and see the remarkable event on
. A quick Google search (
) shows Jean was still alive, kicking and well – and praying for others to be healed - as recently as four years ago.
Mark shows us an extraordinary few days in Jesus’ life, where astounding miracles happened over and over. Stories like Jean’s, one after another.
A crowd of perhaps 10,000 fed on loaves and fishes which came out of thin air. That was in the evening.
Overnight, Jesus walks on water and, for the second time, changes the weather from storm to calm, in a flash.
As we see in this week’s episode (
) that, though, was just for starters…
The storm had disappeared in a moment. With no opposing wind, Jesus and his disciples had landed smoothly ashore. Barely a word had been spoken. The 12 are shellshocked, still trying to process what they have seen.
Jesus, though, is full of life and enthusiasm as usual. He can’t wait to get back on terra firma. The boat has barely juddered to a halt on the sandy beach, then he is out with a leap. “Come on guys, we’ve got work to do…”
Dawn has barely broken and there are only a few fishermen on the beach, getting ready for their day’s work.
One of them looks up with a smile at the exhausted disciples, nursing their stiff and aching limbs out of the boat. “Hard night’s rowing, fellas?” he jokes.
His companions, though, just stare, hardly believing what, or rather who, they are seeing. Jesus’ fame has gone before him. Their stunned silence breaks into excited whispers: “You know who that is don’t you? That’s Jesus of Nazareth… the healer. What’s he doing here?”
Two of them unfreeze from their shocked amazement and bolt back to the village, shouting out all the way, “It’s Jesus of Nazareth… He’s here! He’s here!”
The sleepy little cottages begin to wake into life and expectancy, excited people rub their eyes, staggering into the early morning to join the throng.
Jesus walks towards the village square. He is exchanging pleasantries with the locals, but there is a glint in his eye his disciples know very well and a sense of purpose in his steps. The crowd around him grows ever bigger…
By the time they are nearing the market square, it seems like the entire village has turned out. They know exactly what they want, too.
As Jesus and his disciples turn the corner into the marketplace, they are confronted by a sight that takes their breath away.
The bustling market stalls that were there have all been pushed to the edge and are empty. The square is full of people. Not just any people. They are all desperate for a touch from Jesus… desperate to be healed. The blind grope helplessly into the air, sensing he is coming, but not knowing where to turn. Those who are too sick to move, simply shout and stretch out their hands. They have heard about the woman who just touched Jesus cloak and was made well. If only they can get close enough, if only someone would help them touch Jesus, the same will happen for them.
Bedlam breaks out as Jesus enters the square. The crowd rushes forward, those that can, everyone pressing, just for a touch.
A few hours later, in the sweltering midday sun, the square is very different.
The crowds are still there, but there is bedlam of a different sort. Every single one of them has had a touch. Every single one has been healed. The paralysed are up and running about, leaping and jumping in gratitude. The blind embrace each other, beside themselves at the wonder of colour. Everyone is overjoyed and has an exuberant, noisy story to tell…
This scene is repeated, day after day, village after village as Jesus passes through. Day after day he is mobbed, everyone desperate for one life-changing, healing touch. Everyone who reaches out to him is never the same again. Physically healed. All of them.
Jesus brings miraculous healing. He still does. I don’t know of anyone in the modern era who has healed all comers, as Jesus and his apostles did. I could spend many words trying to explain to you why, but I am not going to.
All I know is, I have never seen anyone come to Jesus for healing and go away empty-handed. Try as I might, I have no full explanation for why some are not physically healed. What I do know is that God gives us an invitation to come to him and ask for healing.
Ours is just to come. Not to understand in full. Will you come?
The story of Jean Neil
Jean had taken a bad fall. It had ruptured her tailbone and this had accelerated the deterioration of her spine. A series of operations, some of which had gone badly, had fused several disks. After her last operation she was placed in a plaster cast for six months.
Emerging from the cast, she was told she would never walk again. On top of that, her heart and lungs had become weakened through the prolonged use of pain medications. Specially formulated pills were necessary to keep her heart pumping. She had also become dependent on inhalers and oxygen.
Then something happened that would change her life forever. A three-year-old toddler at church, a little boy, walked up to Jean and asked to pray for her. She took his little hands in hers and let him pray his simple, childlike prayer. He asked that God would heal her. Something began stirring, deep in Jean’s soul.
That night she had two distinct and vivid dreams. In the second dream, she was in a large cavernous room with twelve other people in wheelchairs. She heard the voice of a man speaking. It was a distinctive voice with a foreign accent. She saw the man emerge in front of the wheelchairs. He went to the first chair and prayed for a woman. He commanded her to get up. She got up but then sat back down in utter defeat. Then the man came to Jean’s chair. He prayed for her and she took off running from her wheelchair, totally healed.
The morning of the meeting I felt a strong urge to pray. As I prayed I sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit with me in an unusual way. I began to ask, Lord, what do You want to do in Birmingham today? Will You perform a miracle in this meeting? My mind was open to receive His answer.
I entered the Convention Center hall through a stage door.
The cavernous room was filled with nearly 12,000 youth and their adult supervisors. I sat on my chair and waited to be announced. As I waited I looked across the crowd and continued in deep conversation with the Lord. Lord what are you doing here tonight?
As my gaze fell across the wheelchairs, the Lord directed my attention to one lady at the far left. I sensed the Spirit saying to me, “That woman in that wheelchair will be healed today.”
From her wheelchair Jean watched me on the stage. She thought that I certainly bore a strong resemblance to the man in her dream. The tone and the accent seemed identical. She began to feel a powerful sense of anticipation.
I was on fire with the Spirit that night. I preached a salvation message to those young people. When I gave an altar call, nearly 1,500 of them responded. I was ecstatic. It was a glorious day. Then suddenly, the host of the meeting came to me on the platform and said, “Reinhard, I have hired this room only until six o’clock. We have to clear the room.”
I looked at my watch and saw that we only had 15 minutes. I was stricken. “Oh, no,” I thought, “I have not prayed for the sick.”
Without any delay I hurried down from the platform and went to the first wheelchair I saw in front of me. A lady sat there. I said, “I want to pray for you.”
I placed my hands on her. I could feel the power of the Spirit like electricity in my hands. I prayed, then said, “Stand up in Jesus’ name.”
She stood but she was very shaky. On her face was an expression of irritation, as if I had no right to do this to her. She sat back down. I knew she was not healed. Oh, no, I thought, this is not the woman God showed me.
At this point, someone in the room had a video camera running. What follows was recorded and has been viewed again and again by many audiences in the years since this meeting. I switched gears. I remembered that the woman God had shown me was to the left. I hopped up and looked to the left until I saw her. Then I raced all the way across the room, the camera following me. I was sprinting against the clock to get to her before they cleared that hall.
Jean Neil was sitting in that wheelchair. Her husband John stood behind her, gripping the handles of the chair. I had never seen them before. I knew nothing about their circumstances nor what had brought them here. I glanced at John, and he looked at me with a look as cold as stone. I knelt down in front of Jean, and said, “I’ve come to pray for you. You’re going to be healed today.”
I will never forget her reply, “I know, I know, I know!” she cried.
What Jean knew was that her second dream was coming true before her very eyes – down to the detail of my praying for the first woman who was not healed. Her faith reached out.
I said, “OK, I will pray for you, and you will stand up.“
John said, “What do you mean, stand up? My wife has no hips. Her hips are not attached.”
I said, “All I know is all things are possible with God. I will pray for you, and you will stand up.”
I laid my hands on her and prayed. Then I commanded her to stand up. Slowly, with great determination, she stood up, and then she sort of slumped forward onto the floor. I thought, “Oh, no, Lord what have I done?”
But then I realized she had not collapsed back into her wheelchair, she had fallen forward. This was a move in the right direction, at least. Then suddenly I knew that she had fallen under the power of God.
I quickly bent down over her. “Jesus is healing you,” I said.
“I know, I know,” she said. Then she looked at me and said, “I feel as if I am under anesthetic.”
“Doctor Jesus is operating on you,” I cried.
At this point, as Jean tells it, she felt powerful, incredible things happening inside her body. She felt as if she was placed on a stretcher and her body was being pulled straight. She felt her hips go into their sockets. One of her legs was two inches shorter than the other. It grew out to be the same length as the other. Then she said it was as if a hot rod of steel went down the full length of her spine. Her bones, tissues and muscles, which had atrophied, began to flex and pulse with new life.
I said to her, “Get up, in Jesus’ name.”
I looked at John. I thought he would punch me.
He said, “What if she falls?”
I said, “I’ll be here. I’ll be here. Now, get up.”
Slowly Jean began to gather herself from the floor. She stood to her feet.
“Now, walk in Jesus’ name.”
The video camera was rolling. People were standing on chairs all around us. We were totally surrounded by onlookers. Jean had on a red hat, a beret. Everyone in the room saw that beret fly upward as she suddenly disappeared from under it. To me it seemed as if she made a sudden leap like a grasshopper makes at the moment you least expect it. Before I could tell what happened that woman was gone.
Jean Neil raced around that building, hands in the air, praising God, crying with joy. Her dream had just happened.
She said her legs were not in the least bit wobbly. They were pumping with strength and incredible power. I kept calling into the microphone, “Where is that woman? Where is that woman?”
The people answered again and again. “Over there, over there, over there.” And each time they were pointing to a different place.
I was still looking for her in the direction she had gone when suddenly she was right behind me. She had gone completely around that building.
The place was bedlam. So much crying. So much praising God. So many tears of joy.
I asked Jean if she would go up onto the stage so that the people could learn what had just happened. She whirled and bounded up the steps to the platform. They were quite steep. That was a testimony in itself. She was completely restored. John followed, in shock, bringing along the wheelchair. I followed.
On stage Jean was dancing around with her hands in the air like a boxer who had just won the heavyweight title. The crowd was cheering. Jean was waving. Then I learned for the first time the extent of her illnesses. It is good that I did not know beforehand. It might have affected my thoughts and my faith to pray for her. I don’t know, God knows, and God is good.
“Give us a demonstration,” I said.
“Of what?” Jean retorted, in her wonderful, sarcastic way.
“Do something you could not do before,” I explained.
“Oh,” she said, as if she did not know what I had meant.
Then she began to bend down and touch her toes, do deep knee bends, run in place. She went through a regular workout for the people. They cheered and applauded and praised God, until somebody remembered that we had to clear the hall.
Excerpt From: Reinhard Bonnke. “Living a Life of Fire - Reinhard Bonnke - An Autobiography”. Apple Books.
You can hear Jean and friends telling her story, as well as see video from the meeting, here