JULY 5 ― Mr Incredible: What are you waiting for, kid?
Kid on tricycle: I don't know. Something amazing, I guess! ― Quotes from The Incredibles
Last weekend, the MBPJ Stadium at Kelana Jaya was packed for three nights for the “Supernatural Encounter” event, led by Honduran pastor Guillermo Maldonado.
Thousands of people showed up to either experience or witness the “main event” i.e. miraculous healings.
I was there on the third night, Sunday, but didn’t stay till the end. Here’s a reflective account of my 1.5 hours there.
Praise & Worship as pre-emptive strikes
The event began around 7.30pm with singing, lots and lots of singing. It’s what Christians term “Praise & Worship” which isn’t merely an “ice-breaker” session.
In Christian thought, singing praises to God and giving God the glory is part and parcel of what it means to realise God’s kingdom on earth.
I recall my Christian teachers telling me that one of the first things a Christian exorcism “crew” does is to, well, sing hymns. We were even told to have some songs at hand.
Imagine there’s a girl or dude in front of you who’s begun to curse your mother in six languages and seven voices, whose face has turned into the kind of snarl that would scare off John Constantine, and who’s developing the kind of strength even the Avengers can’t handle i.e. demonic manifestation in one of its purest forms.
In such cases, the last thing you want to worry about is which song to sing and in what key (!).
You may even think of hymn-singing as the initial aerial bombing or the firing of the battleship guns before the troops storm in. The logic here is that Christian worship and prayer weakens demonic spiritual forces.
(In an Asian context, this should hardly be a new form of teaching. Because all that chanting and incense-burning in temples, etc.? They’re not for “fun.” They’re meant to ward off evil spirits. It’s the same kind of thing here).
Let’s try some analogies to make things clearer.
You know how some extremely proud and egotistical leaders can’t stand it when their peers are celebrated? Or how a super-insecure boyfriend may feel physically strained each time his girlfriend speaks glowingly of other guys? Multiply this phenomenon by a thousand. Ditto, demons.
Or, to take the opposite case, you know how the more loving and caring you are as a person, the more pained you will be by news of oppression, wickedness and injustice?
Reverse this and, again, multiply the experience by a thousand. Ditto, demons, who feel pained and weakened by good and wonderful things happening to people.
Likewise, when Christians sing hymns they are, to put it simply, stating that God is super-awesome. This freaks the heck out of beings (especially supernatural ones) who’ve made it their lifelong mission to hate God and cause anti-God suffering on people.
Christian worship, in other words, is an act of war against Christian enemies (see ).
So what’s all this to do with Stadium MBPJ in Kelana Jaya for three nights? What’s the relevance of singing worship songs to miraculous healing?
Christians (in general ― see ) believe that the whole world is under the dominion of Satan and his despicable minions.
In this sense, every tragedy, sickness, greed, hate, evil, perversion and every instance of pointless and gratuitous suffering are results of demonic influence.
This is the main reason why there’s Christmas and Easter and why Christians have to drag themselves out of bed on Sundays to go to church: To celebrate and live the fact that Jesus came to kick Satan’s butt.
Jesus won, of course, but there’s still work to do.
One dimension of this continuing work is to pray for healing. A “special branch” of this department is ― tada! ― to pray for miraculous healing. This is where Pastor Maldonado comes in. The worship songs set the stage for the full-blown battle.
Which took place around 8.15-8.30pm.
Maldonado spoke for about 10 minutes from the Bible. Summarised in about 20 words, he told (or reminded) everyone that there’s power in God’s Word, power to heal diseases.
Maldonado then said he would channel God’s healing onto five specific diseases cum ailments. The first had to do with hearing, second bones, third eyesight (and, I apologise, but I forgot the remaining two).
Anyway, Maldonado called upon anybody in the crowd who had that specific problem to stand and to put their hands on the area affected. So in the first case, those with hearing problems (after being informed by their friends, obviously) all stood up and put their hands to their ears or that problematic ear.
Pre-stationed leaders and assistants were also requested to go to the people requiring healing and to lay their hands on that person and pray for them.
Maldonado then performed a kind of “countdown.” Three two one
“You are now healed! By the power of God, hear (or walk or see)! By the power of God I cast out the spirit of deafness (or blindness or paralysis, etc.)!”
It was like a ceramah, except not.
“Be healed right now! Believe and receive your healing! Spirit of deafness, I command you to leave the person!”
Yeah yeah, I know. It sounds kinda weird if you’ve never seen it before. Even if you’re a Christian, it won’t all feel “right” if you’re unfamiliar with such healing rallies.
But, as clearly as I can see my keyboard now, I swear I saw an old lady who was putting her hands to her ears suddenly lift the hands up and jump for joy because, upon testing her ears, she realised she could finally hear.
I, and many others, saw men and women come up to the stage with their walking sticks and wheel-chairs, declaring that they no longer need them, testifying that previously they could barely walk and now they look like they’re training for the SEA Games.
I, and many others, saw many people weep because they could finally do what most of us take for granted: hear, see, walk, move.
So what happened?
From a sceptical perspective, one theory is that all that music and shouting and pumped-up rah-rah-rah-ness may have created some mass psycho-somatic effect, causing people to develop mind-over-matter abilities to cure their own physical ailments.
In that case, maybe we should make hospitals more noisy places and include singing and dancing in clinics. I dunno. I mean, isn’t this theory somewhat more bizarre than everything I’ve written above?
Or maybe those sick people weren’t really sick; they simply believed they were sick. And so a counter-belief was the solution. Hmm. Go ahead and tell this to the people in their wheel-chairs. I dare you.
Or maybe these were all just small problems; nobody was healed of AIDS or woke up from coma, right? Interesting point. But, first, “small” doesn’t really cut it when you’re in pain.
Ask every parent with sick children how “small” they think each fever is. Secondly, this still leaves “unexplained” what the cause of the (“small”) healings is. Thirdly, if there is verifiable evidence that some people’s cancer was healed, then what? (see )
Or, maybe ― just maybe ― something truly amazing happened?
: Strictly (i.e. Biblically) speaking, the only entities Christians should be allowed to “resist”, aggressively label enemies and brand as evil are supernatural agents from the Dark Side (to wax Star Wars). From my understanding, when it comes to human persons and communities (no matter who they are), the most severe Christian response allowed is love.
: I say “in general” because, well, there are always Christians who deny that a kingdom of darkness reigns, preferring to ascribe all the evil in the world to either Man (isn’t this giving us way too much credit?) or God (are you kidding me?).
: If I recall correctly, Maldonado did mention that some cancers were healed and the healings documented. What can I say? How about you follow the rabbit trail all the way, see where it leads?
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.