In the Pacific Northwest, a new ministry is reclaiming the gift of healing for a new generation.
Twenty-year-old Keith Goodenberger was desperate. Since the eighth grade he had missed more than a year of school because of severe migraine headaches. He had been on more than 30 medications and undergone three weeks of treatment at the University of Washington's pain clinic. Still his migraines had not gone away.
"I tried everything you can think of to find relief. When you are desperate--or terminally ill--you are willing to try anything," he says.
Keith's parents, Steve and Valorie Goodenberger, who were members of First Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Washington, heard about a place nearby called the Healing Rooms. They decided to visit, though Keith had received prayer before from other Christians.
Valorie, like Keith, had become desperate. "I went thinking we had nothing to lose," she says. Keith, understandably, was less optimistic. "When I first went...I didn't think it was going to work."
The Goodenbergers arrived at the Healing Rooms longing for a miracle. They were led into one of the ministry's eight small prayer rooms, where they received scriptural instruction about healing. Then, three people laid their hands on Keith to pray. Soon, he experienced a strange physical reaction.
"Although I was not on any medication at the time, after 20 minutes of prayer I started to get a high fever and to feel faint," Keith says.
That was more than a year ago. Today, since visiting the Healing Rooms, his migraines have not come back.
Valorie Goodenberger calls Keith's recovery a "miracle"--while noting it has meant more to her than only a physical solution for her son's illness: "You have no idea, when a miracle happens to your child, how it impacts you."
An Oasis of Faith
Divine healing is making a comeback. The Healing Rooms is one of 60 similar ministries that have sprung up across the country. Yet perhaps nowhere is the popular hunger for a supernatural touch from God more apparent than at this unique ministry located in an office building in the Pacific Northwest.
With a volunteer force of more than 100 people, the Healing Rooms is always busy. No appointment is necessary, and the waiting room looks more like a doctor's office than an oasis of intercession and faith.
The unmistakable sounds of fervent prayer can be heard spilling out from the small rooms. In each room there are three volunteers. One leads in prayer while the other two pray in agreement.
A war room of sorts with a 14-foot-long "wall of healing" is neatly plastered with more than 300 praise reports and a poster that reads, "Make war on the floor." Neatly lining an adjacent wall are urgent prayer requests.
The ministry is located in downtown Spokane and once was housed in the city's Rookery Building--right where healing evangelist John G. Lake 75 years ago prayed for the sick and first called the facility "the healing rooms." Today it is in a new 15,000-square-foot site built after the former location was damaged by a recent earthquake.
According to some estimates, there were as many as 100,000 documented healings during the years of Lake's ministry. Other reports say U.S. government officials labeled Spokane the "healthiest city in the world" at the time.
Cal Pierce, director of the Healing Rooms, believes that Christ's atonement provides both redemption and physical healing. He cannot understand how Christians can so readily believe God for their salvation but not for their healing.
"When we lay hands on people, we pray, 'You are healed'--not--'You are going to be healed,'" Pierce says.
The reason some people are not healed, he believes, is because they have not accepted the provision God has made available. "The impetus is on us," he says. "This is why we try to build faith [and] rid people of doubt and unbelief.
"We encourage people to bring back a note from their doctor, but we don't spend too much time pursing it," Pierce adds. "We have people fill out testimony sheets, but like the 10 lepers [healed by Jesus], sometimes only one or two people come back."
Still, the reports come from New Jersey, Florida, Maine, Texas, California and nearly every place in between. The ailments are serious: brain tumors, blindness, arthritis, a variety of cancers. The healings aren't all physical, however; about 30 percent are emotional and include depression, anxiety, and marriage and family problems.
The ministry sells about $7,000 a month in teaching tapes and books on healing, but most of its support comes from people whose lives have been touched by God--such as the lesbian couple who accidentally happened upon the Healing Rooms one day.
The two women, dressed in heavy boots and jeans and sporting numerous tattoos, stepped off the elevator onto the second floor of the ministry and couldn't move. Tears streamed down their faces as the presence of the Lord enveloped them. Volunteers took them into a room for prayer, where they both met Jesus.
"They couldn't believe anything so good was free," says Pierce, who sees spiritual healing as a primary goal.
The 300 people who visit the Healing Rooms each week rarely go away empty. While Pierce does not discourage anyone from seeing a physician or from taking their medication, he is confident that God's provision for healing is for everyone. "God is no respecter of persons when it comes to healing," he states.
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