I am a physician, and I was healed by a faith healer
Prasad Panthagani, MD, FRCS, MRCOphth.
Recently, I was confronted with a perplexing situation that brought my long training and practice as a physician, and my belief in medical science as the only way to cure disease into question. I was indoctrinated to believe that any other modality of cure is antithetical to science and will not hold up to the rigors of strict scientific testing – testing in the form of random double blind, placebo controlled studies.
For the past four years, I was afflicted with a pain in the right knee. Despite consulting an orthopedic surgeon and having an MRI done, I was still in the dark s to the cause of the pain. And because of the absence of any abnormality, the surgeon was unable to offer any advice except rest and analgesics as needed.
I was left with no recourse other than to endure the pain stoically, curtail my badminton playing and restrict myself to accompanying my wife on walking the track of the local high school and maybe doing the elliptical at home when weather precluded outside activities.More recently, I was suffering from abdominal pain and discomfort. Like a typical physician, I waited for a few months before consulting my primary care doctor who ordered a CT scan of the abdomen. Fortunately, the can was normal except for some non-specific haziness of the mesentery and a few prominent retro-peritoneal lymph nodes. I was relieved that I did not have
significant pathology and ignored the pain for a few more weeks. But eventually I had to see a gastroenterologist as the pain did not go away. The gastroenterologist ordered tests to rule out H. Pylori infection and gluten enteropathy. The H. Pylori came positive and I had to take the obnoxious tasting triple therapy for ten days, but was thrilled to be informed that the customary retest a few weeks after the course was negative.
The gastroenterologist advised me to cut down on gas forming foods like broccoli and beans and take peppermint oils. A few days go by before the abdominal pain and discomfort set in again. As the possibility of the pain disappearing on its own diminished, I was forced to make an appointment with another astroenterologist for a possible endoscopy – the first one who happens to be my patient as well stopped private practice and joined a University Hospital which is out of network.
Unfortunately, after being made to wait for almost forty five minutes for the doctor to see me, I walked out without being seen, giving me a timely reminder to not make my patients wait inordinately long before being seen.
And now comes the part that put my training in medicine and my faith at loggerheads and has left me in a quandary.
I am a member of a small group of Christians who hail from the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh in India and who presently live in Hartford and its suburbs. We meet on the evening of the first Saturday of every month in a local church and worship in the vernacular language of Telugu. We have itinerant preachers from India and here come and give sermons regularly. In October, Pastor Sam Darla of the eponymous Darla ministries in Cincinnati, OH, was invited to our fellowship, and his sermon provoked four children ranging in age from 11 to 15 years to seek baptism into the faith. This was the first time that something like this has happened in our eleven years of existence.
Pastor Darla was re-invited for the November fellowship to baptize the four children. November 9th was a momentous day in our lives as we witnessed the baptism in the afternoon and had the evening meeting. The evening fellowship went like any other monthly fellowship with worship and singing in Telugu and English. During the time for personal testimonies, one of the members who sprained his ankle at the sixteenth mile of the Hartford marathon and barely managed to complete it a few weeks earlier, came up to the altar and testified that the leg pain he was having subsequent to the marathon had completely gone away following Pastor Darla’s prayer in the October fellowship and did a delightful bicycle imitation on the podium to show us his new found mobility.
I was skeptical about his testimony, just like I’ve been skeptical about YouTube videos I’ve seen of faith healers bringing who I presumed were gullible believers onto the podium and pushing them down hard and telling them that their infirmities are healed.
Later, Pastor Darla gave a sermon and finished with a prayer, during which he asked those who wanted healing to place their hands on the part of the body which needed it. Normally, I ignore these entreaties, just like I ignore the requests of the preachers who come every month and ask to raise our hands if we want to be saved – I was brought up a Lutheran and I presumed a loving God will not forsake me if I do not raise my hand every time a new preacher comes to the
I don’t know what happened this time but I tentatively lowered my hands from my chest and placed them on the abdomen. Sometime during the prayer, I distinctly felt an inexplicable energy quickly shoot down from my knees towards the floor.
After the fellowship was over, a newlywed couple stayed back to have Pastor Darla pray for them. But before he did, the bridegroom told him that the pain he was having in his legs was gone since the prayer during fellowship.
A couple of weeks after the fellowship, the mother of one of our members testified at the birthday celebration of her husband and granddaughter that the back pain she suffered with for almost twenty years and for which she has taken four to six analgesic tablets every day had gone ever since the prayer in the meeting, and that she has not taken a single tablet since then.
Incidentally, right after the fellowship meeting and during the drive home I told my wife that my knee pain and abdominal pain are gone. But being a man of science, I felt I cannot proclaim this act of healing publicly and be ridiculed for my confession. But the more I think and wait for the pains to come back – they don’t seem to be – the more I am convinced that healing has occurred and that it deserves to be acknowledged and given its due recognition. What all the advanced scientific technologies and the encyclopedic knowledge of decades of medical training and practice of my doctors could not cure was cured in an instant by the simple prayer of a man of God, invoking the Holy Spirit, and thereby performing a miracle – a miracle society and science will never acknowledge and will fight tooth and nail to discredit.
The cures of my fellow members and myself may be difficult to put through the crucible of scientific experimentation and identify the anatomical and physiological changes that occurred in the internal milieu of our bodies to explain the benefits that we are experiencing. But the cluster of cures that followed the intervention of the faith healer are no less remarkable than the successes seen after medical intervention and should get proper acknowledgement. The force that made these cures possible may not be quantifiable by the physical sciences known to mankind. But it should not be dismissed as a figment of imagination of naive and gullible people. It is written in the Bible that whosoever has faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. And I believe that it is this power that the faith healer is appropriating when he prays for the healing of the infirmities of the believers.