Former missionary Lois Sobkoviak suffered from rheumatoid arthritis so debilitating she was practically bedridden. She prayed for healing, but nothing seemed to change. Then she saw nutritionist Cherie Calbom on an episode of Sid Roth's It's Supernatural talking about God's power to heal through juicing.
After googling Calbom, Sobkoviak and her daughter decided to travel from Chicago to attend a health retreat Calbom was hosting in New Mexico. "It was very hard for her to get around at the retreat," Calbom says. "She could barely move ... and was in a lot of pain."
At the retreat, Sobkoviak participated in a three-day juice fast, which was followed by a raw foods meal. She also received prayer and learned about proper nutrition, juicing and the power of emotional detoxing.
The result still has Calbom shaking her head.
Sobkoviak arrived on a Sunday, but by Wednesday she was taking steps without a walker. On Thursday, she was walking completely on her own and was pain-free.
"When she walked into the dining hall, the whole room burst into tears and cheers and applause because they knew how bad off she was when she got there," Calbom says.
Calbom is the author of more than 25 books on juicing and whole foods nutrition, including her latest, The Juice Lady's Anti-Inflammation Diet, which releases this month, The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies and Juicing for Life, which has sold roughly 2 million copies. She can rattle off dozens of stories like Sobkoviak's—people whose lives were transformed when they discovered the healing power of juicing. But Sobkoviak's testimony is particularly exciting to the woman affectionately known as "The Juice Lady," because Calbom has always felt her true mission is to help the body of Christ become healthy and whole.
"My real heart is for God's people," says Calbom, who leads popular juice and raw foods cleansing retreats around the nation with her husband, Father John Calbom, a Russian Orthodox priest. "We each have a unique, individual purpose that's part of [God's] big purpose. And there are so many Christians who are not engaged much at all with what's going on with God's great purpose because they're not feeling well."
A Vision to Restore
Though she's spent most of her professional life in mainstream circles writing books, leading juicing seminars and doing presentations on QVC for the Juiceman juicer and the George Foreman grill, Calbom says she received a clear calling years ago from God to educate people, especially the church, about juicing and maintaining a junk-free diet of whole foods.
While attending a pastors training event in the late 1980s led by the late healing evangelists Charles and Frances Hunter, "I heard God speak clearly to me," Calbom says. "I left that location in the Spirit, and God told me specifically to go back to school and get a graduate degree in nutrition and be a credible resource and teach His people how to live because they were perishing for lack of knowledge."
Not long after that experience she had a vision that is still etched in her memory: "I saw God's soldiers—it seemed like thousands of them—lying on the battlefield. And as I walked among them, I could see labels written on them: chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, migraine headaches, lupus, on and on—the diseases of modern man. They were holding their bodies, many of them in a lot of pain, and holding the areas of pain. Because they were down, unable to pick up their shield and their sword, the enemy was really beating up on them, much more than those people standing and able to hold up their sword and shield. They were kicking them and punching them and really beating them down with discouragement on top of their physical distress."
The vision was dramatically depicted when Calbom appeared on Sid Roth's It's Supernatural last year, and the episode generated one of the largest responses in the ministry's 12-year history.
Concerning the show's impact, Executive Producer Warren Marcus says, "We believe it has to do with her powerful testimony—of her dealing spiritually with the darkness that invaded her life ... and her discovery by God of eating healthy using juicing. Her attitude, her faith and her heart to help others live healthy have inspired millions."
Indeed, Calbom heard from people all over the world. "So many said, 'I feel like that person lying on the battlefield. I feel beaten down, discouraged. And I saw that [show], and it gave me hope for the first time in years,'" she says.
Among those impacted was Josh Hamilton, the all-star slugger for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who lost 20 pounds before the baseball season began last year, in part because of Calbom's juicing program. He had joined his church in fasting and had given up bread, but he credits juicing as getting him in better shape for the season.
"The Lord kept waking me up in the middle of the night over a month," the former MVP told the Orange County Register. "And then The Juice Lady was on. It was like, all right, I always pray the Lord will help me feel better ... but am I doing my part? Now it's time for me to do my part."
That is the very message Calbom challenges her audience with when addressing healing. She believes God wants to heal us, but that there is something we can do to aid in our healing. "God says, 'Come out from among them, My people, and be separate,'" Calbom says. "We are not to eat the foods of the world. We are not to follow the pattern of the world because it doesn't work. It's what is making us sick."
She says the foods most Americans eat have been "ruined" by processing. Wheat, for instance, has been hybridized with more gluten to get fluffier bread and has been genetically modified, "and it's ruining people's guts," she says. "They've taken what God gave us for our food, our energy, our healing, and ruined it ... to make more money. They give us food that's not only worthless, it's toxic because it makes us sick."
People are getting sick—many seriously—younger and younger, and the average prayer line at church attests to the fact that many Christians, despite praying and seeking God for healing, remain terribly ill. To reverse the damage created by the typical American diet, Calbom says it's essential to get rid of toxins, stop eating toxic food and give our bodies superior nutrition. She says: "That is why I'm such a strong proponent of vegetable juicing, because it's concentrated nutrition without a lot of calories, and it detoxes because it's full of antioxidants. It binds up to free radicals and ... gets them out of the body."
The "Miracle" of Juicing
After experiencing a personal crisis, Father Peter Guilianotti was one of those sick believers willing to try anything to get a fresh start. The 41-year-old Orthodox priest decided to go on a 60-day juice fast and reached out to Calbom, whose husband is his mentor and a fellow minister in the Orthodox Church. She sent Guilianotti books on juicing and other resources, and stuck with him every step of the way.
"I think the biggest thing with Cherie is she cares," Guilianotti says. "She really cares and she really wants to help."
At the end of the 60 days, he'd lost 60 pounds, was sleeping better and felt filled with energy. But the effects weren't only physical. "Juicing and Cherie's program gave me a new life," he says. "It was like I came out of this other shell that was holding me back, and I didn't even realize it was holding me back. It was like a reboot. She told me that would happen. So it was an added benefit, but probably the most important benefit."
Despite weighing more than 300 pounds before the juice fast, Guilianotti was fairly healthy. Yet he noticed that several aches and pains disappeared after the fast. "God used the juice to bring healing," he says. "That's neat because ... God gives us the wisdom about medicine, but that should be a last resort. God gives us these nutritional things, and God gives us this juice, and we can take this as a medicine. It does amazing things in our bodies; it does miracles in our bodies, but people just never use it."
Opening people's eyes to this "untapped" source of natural healing is one thing that keeps Calbom passionate about her work, which, when combined with her own miraculous testimony, makes for a powerful one-two punch. The result is her expanding ministry.
Herman Bailey, co-host of It's Time with Herman & Sharron on Christian Television Network, says Calbom's message about juicing for weight loss, renewed energy and a more youthful appearance struck a chord with his viewers. "Christians are struggling with the same health issues as everyone else," he says. "Every time I get an opportunity to interview someone like Cherie who is a product of what she talks, the response is great from the audience. ... [Calbom's testimony is] a positive visual that if we don't give up, the result can be phenomenal. She's a living example of what she tells others to do."
A Walking Picture of Unhealthiness
Indeed, Calbom's passion for juicing comes straight from personal experience. While in her 20s, she caught a bout of flu that never seemed to go away. Soon she was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia so severe that she could barely walk around the house. Eventually her health deteriorated to the point that she couldn't work.
"I would sleep the whole weekend and go back to work and struggle through the whole week," she says. "The doctors didn't know what it was and had no hope or help for me. That's when I started praying. I knew something got me here; something's got to get me out."
At age 30, after moving home to live with her father in Colorado, Calbom began visiting health food stores and talked with employees and read several books. The information about juicing and eating whole foods made sense to her, but there weren't many books available on juicing in those days.
"I had to define my own program and trust that the Holy Spirit would guide me and show me the way and what to choose," she says.
She began with a five-day juice fast. "And on the fifth day, my body expelled a tumor the size of a golf ball with blood vessels attached to it," she says. "I had no idea how that happened, but I thought after that I would get better. Instead, I got worse some days."
She didn't know it at the time, but her body was detoxing. "Nobody was talking about the detox reaction," she says. "When the body is cleansing, it's trying to get rid of the toxins. You may get headachy or feel kind of fluish for a couple of days, or be nauseated or get a skin rash. It goes away. It doesn't last very long. It's not damaging. That is what contributes to a person getting better."
For the next three months, she drank one to two quarts of fresh vegetable juice daily and ate only live and whole foods—brown rice and vegetables primarily. She continued to have ups and downs, some days feeling worse than ever. "Then one day at the end of the summer, I woke up and felt like God gave me a new body overnight," she says. "I felt fabulous. It was like a miracle. All along my body had been working toward that moment. I just hadn't felt that until then."
The experience launched her into a new lifestyle, because when she picked up some of her old habits, the symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue returned. "I said, 'OK. This has got to be a way of life. It can't just be a cure. It's got to be the way I live my life.'"
Tragedy Strikes Again
Several years later, after sitting in a class her husband was teaching, she sensed God calling her to return to school to earn a master's degree in whole foods and nutrition. But she almost didn't get there. About a year after recovering from CFS and fibromyalgia, her body suffered another devastating blow.
While house-sitting for friends in Southern California, she woke up one night to find a shirtless man crouched in the corner of the bedroom where she was sleeping. Instead of running out of the house when she awoke, the man rushed toward her and started beating her in the head with a pipe, yelling all the while, "Now you are dead!"
She attempted to fend him off, and the pipe flew out of his hands, but then the man began to choke her until she passed out. She believed she was dying and even felt her spirit leave her body with a popping sensation. But then she felt herself back in her body and woke up to find herself clinging to a fence outside the house. With no idea how she got there, she began to scream with what little strength she had. A neighbor overheard and called 911.
At the hospital doctors took inventory of her injuries. Her ring finger was hanging on by a small piece of skin. Her hand was split open, and she sustained serious injuries to her head, neck and back. Part of her scalp had been torn away, and several teeth had been cracked. But of all the injuries, the damage to her right hand was the worst. Two knuckles were reduced to powder and bone fragments, and her hand had to be held together by three metal pins. Six months after the attack, she still couldn't use her hand.
"I felt and looked worse than hopeless, with a shaved top of my head, totally red, swollen eyes, a gash on my face, a weird-looking right hand, terrorizing fear and barely enough energy to get dressed in the morning," she says.
The attack also left her with severe emotional pain as it compounded the loss of her mother, brother and grandfather, who all died when she was a child. It took about nine months of deep inner healing combined with juicing, detoxing, vitamin-mineral IVs and physical therapy for her to recover from the physical and mental effects of the attack. And though she followed the advice of a nutritionally-minded physician, took nutritional supplements and ate a "near-perfect" diet, she knows her knuckles reformed primarily because of prayer.
After her recovery, she attended Bastyr University, a leading naturopathic college. Representatives from the Juiceman company visited the campus looking for a student to help write a booklet about juicing to be included with the juicers. She helped write the booklet and later started free seminars for the company, where she shared her story of healing.
Through her affiliation with Juiceman, she became known as The Juice Lady, and the connection opened other doors, including her work with QVC and boxing champ George Foreman.
Calbom, whose father was a healing evangelist until her mother died of cancer when Calbom was 6, says she "absolutely" believes in divine healing. But she says there's a flip side.
She has repeatedly seen people who are healed return to their old lifestyles and get sick again. Many times people say that's because the person didn't stand in faith. "But nobody ever addressed what made them sick in the first place," she says. "What was it in their lifestyle? If you continue on in the lifestyle that made you sick, you'll get sick again.
"That's what God has put so much on my heart—that He's given us these things for our healing, but it's real, whole food, not things that manufacturers and big plants have tampered with. If we keep putting that in our bodies, it can only produce illness. It cannot produce health. We weren't designed for it. So I see prayer and doing the right things, as far as our diet goes, go hand in hand."
Calbom hopes to hear more stories like Lois Sobkoviak's, who continues to be pain-free as long as she chooses the right foods. "If she cheats, the pain starts coming back," Calbom says. "So she has to follow the narrow path, which is the one I have to follow."
She admits that path isn't easy. "It's like Joyce Meyer said, it isn't that you aren't going to go to heaven if you eat that cookie. But are you going to be able to run the race God called you to run? Probably not. You're going to be tired."
"God wants us to run the race swiftly," she adds. "The apostle Paul said, 'I discipline my body so that I might win the race.' I think it's every day, day in and day out, remembering our goal—that we are called to be people of God who are disciplined, because we have a greater calling. We have a prize and we have a purpose for our lives—and we want to hear the Father say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You completed the course I called you to.'"
Adrienne S. Gaines is a writer and editor based in central Florida.
Watch Cherie Calbom share her supernatural testimony of how God restored her health at calbom.charismamag.com