December 27th, 2011
02:09 PM ET

Charismatic movement growing quickly worldwide

By Stacey Samuel, CNN

Laurel, Maryland (CNN) - At the end of a row of neatly arranged banquet chairs, Sandra Ashford sat reverently, still in awe of what she says is her mother’s miraculous recovery from cervical spinal stenosis.

“If it wasn’t my mother,” Ashford said, “I wouldn’t believe it." She explained how after a “laying of hands,” her 74-year-old mother, Delsie McDougall, no longer experiences the symptoms from what was becoming a debilitating condition.

When she arrived in early December from her native Jamaica in search of treatment options, McDougall said, she couldn’t “walk straight.” When her neurologist prescribed surgery, she sought an alternative, one more in keeping with her faith.

On the recommendation of a friend, mother and daughter experienced their first charismatic healing service in the rented ballroom of a Holiday Inn in Laurel, Maryland.

On a Sunday evening a few weeks before Christmas, the two spent several hours in the temporary location of the Everlasting Life Christian Center.

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“To tell you the truth, I was very skeptical,” McDougall said as she stood and swayed to the live music from the gospel singers. She showed no signs of physical discomfort.

Sandra Ashford, right, and her mother, left, attend a healing service in Maryland.

They are among a fast-growing number within the diverse Christian landscape to join the charismatic movement.

According to a recent Pew Research Center report on Global Christianity, 305 million Christians worldwide follow the charismatic movement.

“One of the reasons the charismatic movement is expanding … apart from salvation, we experience healing, miracles. The blind see, the lame get up and walk, and the deaf can hear. That attracts a lot of people,” said Samuel Fatoki, who leads the roughly 200-member church with his wife, Marcia, who serves as his co-pastor.

Ashford recounted how on the third application of Fatoki’s hands on her mother, McDougall fell to the ground and began speaking in tongues. Ashford said her mother writhed on the floor, contorting in ways she couldn’t stretch before.

Both said she’s been walking upright since.

The Pew report categorizes charismatic Christians as a subset among non-Pentecostal denominations and includes Christians from each of the major branches: Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant.  The movement shares similar beliefs to Pentecostal denominations and similar practices like “divine healing, prophecy and speaking in tongues,” according to the report.

Dale Stoffer, professor of historical theology and academic dean at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio, said the charismatic movement has been present in the United States since the 1960s. The religious experience in the movement is more experiential, rather than based in intellectual expression.

“There’s a high degree of emphasis on the Holy Spirit working in supernatural ways,” Stoffer added.

While the movement is growing here in the United States, there’s been an “explosion in Christianity,” Stoffer said, in Africa, Latin America and Asia: regions of the world that have seen increased numbers of charismatic Christians.

A Pew Forum survey from 2006 found that 34% of Brazil's population identified themselves as charismatics.

“These are cultures that have not been impacted by the Western Enlightenment,” explained Stoffer.

A basic tenet in this healing ministry is complete belief, invoking one’s blind faith.

“And the signs shall follow them that believe, they will heal the sick, lay hands, cast out demons in my name,” Marcia Fatoki recited from the Gospel of Mark. She said she also shares her husband’s ability to prophesy.

Pastor Samuel Fatoki listens to his wife speak at a recent service.

Both asserted that they are not the purveyors of the miracles. “We’re not the ones healing,” Samuel Fatoki said.  They are just the vehicles through which the Holy Spirit is working.

But it’s not a gift that can be called upon on command, like magic, as a skeptic may expect to see in order to be convinced.

“People’s faith level increases with more examples from others,” Marcia Fatoki said.

At a time when individual tribulations seem to have grown with increasingly difficult economic times, it’s no wonder that the ballroom was filled with at least 200 people from as far as New York, New Jersey and Virginia, many with testimonies of being cured of ailments from chronic sinus issues and financial woes, to smoking cessation and the disappearance of tumors.

So, what happens when neither of the Fatokis is able to heal someone? Samuel Fatoki said that that too is out of his hands, and it is the will of God.

But for Sandra Ashford and her mother, what they have seen is enough to inspire a deepening of their faith.

“To witness a family member go through this speaks volumes,” Ashford said, still giddy that more than three weeks later, her mother is still pain-free and walking with ease.

“It is the will of God that everyone be healed,” Samuel Fatoki said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Catholic Church • Christianity • Pentecostal • United States

soundoff (685 Responses)
  1. flashtrum

    Please meet me at Interstate 895 and I 95 in Baltimore. I have a tunnel I'll sell you for 5 bucks.

    You can collect tolls and save souls.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  2. Gumby

    Buncha gullible, deluded loons. Hey, guys, here's a thought – try reality sometime.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • Not Now John

      Cue Reality ...

      December 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  3. James

    What race on Earth starts a Riot Because GEOMETRY IS TOO HARD?
    a)Arab People
    b)White People
    c)Asians People
    d)Black People

    December 27, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Stan

      The Answer:
      e) religious people.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • James' Mom

      James has a hard time with geometry, and his teacher is, you know, one of "those" people.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Latrina

      Yu beez racis n' shiit! I dont gots ta lern no geonomitry! Whats I gunna do wit dat?? Yu a crazy craka!

      December 27, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Kunst

      "Asians" people?? Oh well.

      What did the mathematical acorn say when he grew up? "Gee, ah'm a tree!"

      December 27, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  4. william

    Have any physicians come forward to acknowledge these miracle cures of their patients? If not, I'll continue to suspect that this is pure showbiz to put more money in the coffer.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • Alfred E Neuman


      December 27, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Laurie in Dallas

      Every one who has had a miracle healing has gone to the doctor. The doctor's were astonished and had nothing to say except "It must have been an act of God"!

      December 27, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  5. james Levant

    Show me ONE time that God-Jesus EVER healed an amputee! You don't even have to prove a whole leg or an arm. I mean show me ONE TIME that god even replaced ONE LOST FINGER. i mean god can raise the dead right? He can heal cancer, he can make the blind see. Surely one little lost finger can be replaced? Show me that, and I'll THINK about it!

    December 27, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      100 years ago a lost finger or limb was lost indeed, now God working in partnership with medical personnel have developed procedures that allow lost parts to be reattached. Even now people are working on regeneration of body parts and God is imparting knowledge. When regeneration finally becomes a reality what will you complain about?

      December 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • adf

      Faith in the little baby jebus does not require hard evidence...just a dose of goofiness.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Stan

      @A-I-T, no truth to your comment and how dare you perv-ert Al Gore's t-itle. I give the doctors and researchers credit, not your do-nothing sky fairy.

      Think about it (for a change): your god is supposed to be super-powerful but people have gone to their graves for centuries without regaining the limbs they lost, and your (non-existent) god didn't lift a finger to help them.

      It's the doctors, stupid, not your sky fairy.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Sue

      Great comment, Stan. I agree.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • An inconvenient truth

      The overwhelming majority of doctors, researchers and scientists give credit to God . Will you be calling all of those wrong as well?

      December 27, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • fred

      Think again the serpent and staff used as symbol for the AMA came from the Bible because God Healed the people who looked at it.
      Good to see you agree with the Bible where God is the root of all that good and healing.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • jay

      Well there was an occasion where Jesus grabbed the ear of the roman soldier which had been cut off by Peters knife and the Bible says Jesus placed it back to where it was suppose to be and the ear was put back in place, does that work?

      December 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • fred

      Stan stated that it was doctors not a sky fairy. The AMA adopted the sepent coiled on a branch for the sympol of medicne. The serpent in the Garden of Eden was the deceiver and later Moses lifted it up on a staf any that looked at it in faith were healed.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  6. quagmire

    Poor the US if this is the future

    December 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  7. Eleftheria i thanatos

    Why doesn't God heal amputees? How come these signs from God can always be ascribed to natural causes? Oh, could it be that people are hungry for signs because they think their soul's fate after death rests on them believing that a mere man was a God? And perhaps that there are sick twisted people who are willing to take advantage of gullible people? Like Pastor Moon from S.Korea, Jose Miranda, etc. It has to be the zombie God who left us with only a propaganda book, who is using fear tactics equivalent to the ones employed by Kim Jong Il's regime!

    December 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  8. quagmire


    December 27, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  9. James


    December 27, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • James' Mom

      That's "citing", James

      December 27, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Aryan

      Let's not forget the rampant black-on-white crime and the recent Air Jordan riots.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • Who Is James?

      Not too bright yourself, it is "citing."

      December 27, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  10. Aryan

    Nigras lack Neanderthal genetic admixture. They are not fully human. This admixture was the latest stage of our evolution.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Kunal

      I usually don't pcaitripate on blogs/chat rooms but had to this time .you are a class act and I admire your decision to make a big change in your life. I have done the same thing and it was the best thing I ever did. It surely isn't easy but it life goes to quickly and you don't want to look back and have regrets. Best of luck to you!! We will all miss you.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  11. James Cook

    "we experience healing, miracles. The blind see, the lame get up and walk, and the deaf can hear. That attracts a lot of people"
    Yes but all those miracles are fundamentally uncheckable. What about an amputee growing a leg back, a verifiable miracle? I think we all know, even the believers on some level, that it isn't going to happen. I suggest one really needs to think about why amputees aren't incuded among those who experience miracles.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  12. 21k

    is that herman cain in the front praying for an election rebound? after all, he only suspended his campaign.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  13. veritas

    America is doom in the global world. Everyone is beating us at science and math because we have this mentallity. Look at our space program....we are a disgrace....we were the leaders...
    Grow up.....90 % of the history in the buy bull is incorrect.....
    For the country with the most xians we sure kill a lot.....of one another....guns no guns....

    Save me Jebuz

    December 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  14. Chuck

    They should go to St. Jude's and lay hands of the kids!

    December 27, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • 21k

      how about just sending their church contributions to the hospital to help find cures for childhood diseases. i bet that's what jesus would do instead of enriching the pastor.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Net

      Your writing is nmtneoplaticg. Your singing is exquisite. You are a treasure Lisa.. Your QVC fans will surely miss seeing you but we're, all behind you cheering you on toward new and grand horizons! Wishing you a meaningful Christmas and truly a wonderful and fulfilling life, ahead. The world is at your doorstep.

      April 4, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  15. 21k

    so what happens to all the people who lived before jasus? or all the people alive now that are not xtians? do their souls get smoked at the end? so only if you are lucky enough to be born an xtian, or to have internet access so you can sign up, will you be saved. even the jews? they are the real chosen people. well, maybe not according to the pope who says that only catholics will be saved. so complicated. i guess i'll just stick with being a black-hearted atheist, and take the big void when i go.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  16. spelling police

    Please correct misspelled word "charasmatics" : A Pew Forum survey from 2006 found that 34% of Brazil's population identified themselves as charasmatics.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • 21k

      are they part of the 90% that dance half-naked in the streets during carnival?

      December 27, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  17. Aryan

    The primitive nigra beast must be isolated and left to die off.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • 21k

      see folks, god still hasn't squished the nazis.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Aryan

      Thor shall never "squish" us!

      December 27, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  18. Corey Holbert

    Its just God revealing himself. God says we have the same powers as he has. We just have to operate in the spiritual realm. Anything Is possible to those who believe in God, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy spirit. Amen.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • claybigsby

      "Anything Is possible to those who believe in God, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy spirit. Amen."

      oh yeah? anything is possible? On this earth? Doubtful.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • 21k

      smoking a lot of weed helps too.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  19. ATLdoogie

    Don't be too surprised at these people....they also produce all those wonderful rappers.

    December 27, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  20. Copper's Donut Shoppe

    Why have they not be sent back to Jamica now that she is healed.
    Send her hoome don't let more illegals overstay their visas.
    There are almost as many overstay visa illegals in the country as no visas

    December 27, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.