I have recently been very proud to watch my good friend and colleague Emily Yates in her documentary Heal Me in the Name of Jesus. If you haven’t had opportunity to watch this yet you can view it here. Firstly being Deaf myself I can relate to Emily in terms of being proud of my disability. Being Deaf is a huge part of my self-identity and not something which I would change; it’s central to who I am. I do however have tinnitus and I struggle with this. It can have a really negative impact on me, especially when I am anxious or overtired. I try not to moan about it and just get on with things but this is something that, if I could, I would definitely change.
Not so long ago I was shopping in St Pancras Station when a lady, having seen me use British Sign Language, came up to me and offered to pray for me to be healed. In all honesty I wasn’t quite sure how to respond and simply smiled and walked away. On one hand I was offended that my deafness could be seen as something that needed to be healed, on the other hand I was curious about the effects healing could have, so when I heard about Emily’s documentary I couldn’t wait to see it.
Let me be clear, I am not a Christian, but I have utmost respect for people who are. Often I envy the comfort and conviction that faith appears to offer. I don’t wish to start a debate upon whether healing actually occurs because quite frankly I don’t know – I haven’t discounted it, nor can I say I really believe it on a personal level. On this one I am well and truly on the fence!
One point that really stood out for me during the programme was when Emily raised the fact that there were no negative comments on any of John Mellor Ministries’ Social Media channels (John is the healer featured in the programme). I simply couldn’t believe this and had to have a look. Sure enough I couldn’t find any. Facebook and YouTube are full of videos and comments linked to people being healed. I couldn’t find anything about those people who aren’t healed, nor any negative comments from sceptics. This worries me. Whilst totally understanding that it is natural that the focus would be on the positive from John’s supporters – the good that healing may do – in my opinion not offering a balanced view is detrimental to both John, the work he does and also to disabled people.
Even if I had not watched the show, I would find it impossible to believe that everyone who attends the healing meetings is ‘cured’. That just wouldn’t seem feasible to me and having watched the show I know that this isn’t the case – yet there is little mention of this to be found. The never ending positive stories in my view are undermined by the lack of balance from the other side, the people who haven’t been healed. The backlash from some people against Emily’s documentary was that it wasn’t unbiased, that she was cynical – I personally felt this was a tad unfair as if you are seemingly only providing one side of the story – the cures (regardless of whether that’s the intention) then it becomes very difficult to be anything but cynical!
Not only do I feel that being slightly more transparent in terms of those who aren’t healed would benefit John, I also feel that this is essential in terms of fairness towards people who are seeking a cure. As the social media channels currently stand it would be easy to assume that everyone is cured and this is therefore setting up very high expectations. The impact that a lack of healing could have on someone’s emotional wellbeing, especially if they are desperate for a cure, could potentially be immense.
A friend of mine wrote a comment on the John Mellor Ministries Facebook page which could be received as a criticism of faith healing – this comment can no longer be seen, leading me to believe that it was deleted and possibly suggesting that the page is modified to a much greater extent than John and his wife would like us to believe… I too have written a comment summarising what I have written in this piece. I sincerely hope that this comment remains on the page and that respectful and healthy debate is encouraged.