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. Neeneko

    ah... tax exempt scams....
    it this was not hiding behind the cloak of christianity, the people running these churches would all be in jail by now.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  2. MoreChoices

    "'It is the will of God that everyone be healed,' Samuel Fatoki said."
    Well yes, of course. Except for amputees. Cases may exist, but I'm not aware of a single case of an amputee's limb growing back. Weird. Does God hate amputees or something? Or, is it possible that instances in which people think God is doing the healing, isn't really God afterall?

    December 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  3. 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! Forget probable! Let’s embrace possible! Even though we would never use this type of reasoning for anything else in life. After all! The local shaman nut says it’s a good thing! And he went to fairy tale college!

    December 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  4. Reality

    Dear Charismatics et al,

    Free Will and Future are inherent to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers. Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature..

    So stop your singing and shouting, put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows or bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the proper rules of your religion or any good rules of living as gracious and good human beings.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  5. James


    December 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • jeff

      Your faith or lack of faith is between you and whatever you call God. Its very scary when one man (Fatoki) "knows" what Gods will is. Look out for the Koolaid! That too will be the will of Fatoki's god.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Atheist #1

      Europe is super majority white! And most of them are all WELFARE STATES!

      December 27, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  6. Aryan

    Great photo! I like the nigress in the front row dressed as Santa with her snout in the air.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • James

      EWWWW! Tar baby.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  7. mdc

    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.

    We as a species are doomed....doomed I tell ya!.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  8. Texas Tumbleweed

    Total BS.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  9. JC

    "The mind is its own place, and in it self
    Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n."

    Well, I've seen evangelists and showmanship, and voodoo religions and animism and everything in between. I've seen cults and canons and Jesus pancakes, and clasping hands. We really haven't gotten anywhere, have we? The mind can do wonders if the person is of a mind to see wonders; a useful and dangerous thing. Just how long do the wonders last, and who benefits?

    December 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  10. jojo

    In this day and age people have so little that they will grasp onto anything. This is just a disgusting way to make money from those who can least afford it. YOu don't have to be stupid to fall for this, just void of certain things in your life. The people are charlatans. Shame on them!

    December 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  11. Mr Mark

    The power of myth.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  12. Atheist #1


    December 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • jojo

      George Carlin was a great thinker and an honest man. What is said in this was truthful from start to finish. This should be played daily on every tv and radio station in the US.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • James

      George Carlin Wasn't a Racist like You JoJo!

      December 27, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  13. Man of GOD

    To all those who promote hatred the LORD has a special place in Hell Fire for you. Keep hating your neighbor and rejecting the Son of GOD and you will surely fill the reservation that awaits. To all those who love the Lord I will meet you in the air when HE calls with the trump of the Archangel. The wicked can have this earth. Jesus has prepared a place for us! Until then brothers and sisters endure because we know where our eternal hope is.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Jim

      The Archangels play Euchre? Maybe I"ll reconsider...

      December 27, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Jon

      That's an awful lot of pride there, bucko.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Fury

      Did Jesus ever talk about Hell? Don't think he did. Learn your bible before you sit back in your heaven with your supposed saved people.

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

      Funny monkey want banana?

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

      Some of us are not Christians, and therefore have no need of saving by your Christ. Please do not assume you know your entire audience.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Phyrro

      Wow!!! Condeming Hatred and then in the next statement expounding the hatred of hell on all that are not like you. I hope you take your vile hatred to heaven because we don't need it on earth.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Jim

      @Fury, of course he did. This one's from Matthew 5 (Sermon on the mount):

      21“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder,a and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brotherb will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,c’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

      So take it easy on the word "Fool", K?

      December 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • LEE

      Actually Jesus did talk about what happens to the unsaved. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the woe's and warnings he gives to the pharisees and the religious establishment, as well as in the Revelation to John.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Brandon

      So either god knows in advance who will go to hell and who won't, or he has no control over it. If he knows in advance, that essentially means that he purposely created life, knowing that it is doomed to burn in hell. Or, he has no power to control the outcome, in which case I ask what power does this god really have?

      December 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • sybaris

      So MOG, you're saying your all loving god created a hell. Nice god you got there.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  14. Jim

    Wow, racists commenting on magic. Is this what Sarah Palin called the "Real Americans"?

    December 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • PC Hall Monitor

      Good one, Jim! But you really need to stretch it out a bit. Remember: Alan Alda!

      December 27, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Jim

      Sorry PC, you lost me.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  15. ufadoof

    So god made us in his image right? Now we all know folks take big nasty bowel movements. It stands to reason then that god must take some really big dumps. "Holy S__t!"

    December 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  16. Jon

    Interesting that so many people report being healed of all sort of impossible-to-verify illnesses, but not one with a regrown limb or anything else falsifiable. Those that read that sentence and are capable of thought know exactly what I'm saying, and I'm not going to convince anyone else, so I'll refrain from stating the obvious. I'm routinely saddened by the blindly credulous masses, and frustrated by the fact that I can no more show them the truth by argument than I can cure schizophrenia that way. How can we save people from their own delusions if the delusions offer more comfort than the truth? This article and these comments are just plain depressing.

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

      Their brains shrunk.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  17. PC Hall Monitor

    OK, everyone, these posts are getting racist, so although we all know that blacks are intellectually inferior, it's up to all of us to pretend that we don't know it. Some of you are not pretending, and this makes those of us who derive a sense of moral superiority from the pretense feel uncomfortable. Remember, it's not about "truth"; it's about expressing the "correct" opinions. Thanx! xoxo

    December 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  18. Rich

    very sad ....but a fool and their money.........gop base

    December 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  19. James

    Blacks are Just a Feeble and simple minded Race.

    December 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • James' Mom

      That should be "simple-minded", James.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • James

      Go pray to the Invisible White guy who lives in the Clouds and his son.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Jon

      Ha! A racist lecturing us about self-serving delusions. Rich.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Mr Philosophy

      Oh Mr James. People like you are so engulfed with racist thoughts and ideology that you even forget your own existence. I can
      see your manner of thinking is nothing but a blunt portrayal of hatred onto others simply because their skin color is not the same as yours. you are not worth my insults but I can simply say people like you are not worth existing in order for the world to be a better place.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • ufadoof

      There are white people there as well. So by your logic white people are simple minded.

      December 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Paul

      James, you need to go To heII for your Crimes Against random Capitalization.

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

      Most blacks are, as you say, inferior. They destroy every country they come to, sighting England and France as their latest victims. The are animalistic in behavior, and just a tad below Mexicans. Why these people think that violence is the answer to everything just goes to show how far down the evolutionary chain they really are.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  20. cg10

    For you who have a problem with blessings/miracles, everyday you wake up is a miracle. God is giving you another chance to accept Him. Putting all the weight on God means that you have no responsibility in your situation but you do. The Holy Bible says if YOU HAVE FAITH, YOU CAN move mountains. Faith is when you believe in God spend time with Him is in worship and prayer, not just being religous but because you believe in Him. Knowing is believing and understand this, God also blesses who He pleases and don't forget He is God! The Holy Bible also says His Ways are NOT our ways, and His Thoughts are NOT our thoughts so what seems logical to you may not fit into God's over all plan. Therefore, acceptance is greater than sacrifice and when you don't accept and respect Him, don't expect God to listen to you. Just trying to help ya!

    Find peace in knowing God and be blessed by the best!

    December 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • James

      I mis the Days When The Priest Didn't allow Blacks into Heaven

      December 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • TR6

      @cg10 :” The Holy Bible says if YOU HAVE FAITH, YOU CAN move mountains”

      Typical snake oil sales man/Christian promises everything, delivers nothing. I’d love to see just 1 demonstration of something done by prayer that hasn’t been done without it (eg. sometimes cancer disappears without medicine or prayer).

      How about this. Put up or shut up. Let’s see you move a mountain by praying at it

      December 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
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