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. Big Bushy Mustache

    Really? / For real? Why do I need medical insurance then. I want my money back?

    December 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  2. Atheist #1


    December 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  3. Skeptic

    "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."

    And then..

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

    Makes sense.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  4. outawork

    Another sign of the coming collapse of civilization.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  5. marvin

    This is nothing new, it has always been this way for true believers

    December 27, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  6. Cas

    This is taxation on human ignorance. No surprise that many here are blacks, simple socio-economics; blacks have less access to good education which is a good antidote for the ignorance displayed here.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  7. James


    December 27, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  8. Phyrro

    A picture caption states: "Sandra Ashford, right, and her mother, left, attend a healing service in Maryland". CNN didn't correct the mispelling of "healing" it should be "heeling" as in the command to dogs to "heel".

    December 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Phyrro you are an as.s hole. But I am sure you already know that. Sick fuk.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Phyrro

      The Central Scrutinizer: Thank you for those kind Christian words. Jesus is applauding you in heaven.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      Phyrro, there is no question, if there were a heaven, Jesus would be pleased with my words.

      December 27, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  9. The Central Scrutinizer

    They are still bitter they didn't make the cast of The Wiz Jr. in Middle School.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Enlightened

      The white zone is for loading and unloading only.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • The Central Srutinizer

      Enlightened, I don't get it. What are you enlightened about and what does is have to do with an old comedy from 1980?

      December 27, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  10. NW1000

    Maybe they need a "preacher" to scream GD America. Then they would be ok.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  11. HereticX

    Concur with ParteDos. And I'll go even farther. In the end, these followers are a revenue stream for the church leader(s). There's a market for people wanting to be healed, and these church leaders provide the service – someone who will sell what the people want. It doesn't mean the individual person wanting to be healed is paying, but the collective congregation as a whole is paying. It is the congregation that is the revenue stream for the church (i.e., church leaders). There has never, ever been a 'miraculous' healing of anyone from any ailment of any kind, but it is claimed by religious people all the time to re-enforce and promote their beliefs all the time. We always hear about the miracles, but we never hear about the unanswered prayers where millions suffer and die with untold numbers of people praying over them for a miracle. If there were miracles for the devout, then churches would be filled to the rafters with old people living through miracles.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Andy

      Mr. X, there is suffering because evil entered into the world. The wages of sin is death, you have probably heard one time or another, atheist or not. Why would a moral God allow evil? Probably the lynchpin argument for most atheists. You have a world, who for the most part, hates God. Why would God bless America when most people hate him? Then someone would retort, " We would never say anything like that." God says you say it not with your mouth but with your life. Because there is evil there will be suffering. God allows the congregation of the damned to run amok because most of human kind hates God. Why should there be heaven now for people who hate God?

      December 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  12. gary

    these god-whacks are delusional and sick. If I acted this way in front of a tree and said I was worshipping nature (that we can SEE) I'd be locked in a padded cell. There is not god, no souls, no demons or deities, no dragons or leprechauns or trolls. Can't we move past ancient myths and into the 21st century???

    December 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • J

      Oh wont the judgement day be fun for you then!

      December 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Andy

      J, come on dude. I am a Christian and I am bewildered by your statement. Come on. Why would you say something like that? Sarcasm is not necessary. You think its truth. But, you are only driving a wedge further between yourself and the unbelieving world. You will stand accountable for your words on judgment day as well.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Phyrro

      J: Are you God to judge other peolple. God will be very upset with you for usurping his role.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • NW1000

      You sound like a nut.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Big Bushy Mustache

      Oh please two asprin and a colt 45 chaser would do the same thing. Seriously!

      December 27, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  13. NW1000

    Most of the folks in the pictures are African Americans.
    Sad to see so much racism on display in the comments.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Aryan

      Yes, so "sad" to see people facing the facts about nigras.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Agree NW1000. There are some really sick fuks in here. wow.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Big Bushy Mustache

      Maybe they can prey the gay away like Michele Bachmann and her nancy man husband.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  14. Phyrro

    The articlw states: "A basic tenet in this healing ministry is complete belief, invoking one’s blind faith".

    "blind faith" is redundant.

    When you can convince a person to have blind faith then you can convince them to be a suicide bomber.

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

    And you believe that artificially propping these "people" up economically, educationally and occupationally is somehow good for America? The sooner they get back to work in the fields, the better!

    December 27, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • gary

      people this whacko for a ghost in the sky should be euthanized.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Aryan

      I'm an atheist.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Andy

      Gary, yeah right. And how are you helping spouting your hatred amongst this blog. This is just an informational movement not a crusade. Stop belittling people for their given right to believe.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  16. The Central Scrutinizer

    The Universe ceases to exist at the moment of your death. Likewise, the Universe springs into existence at the moment you can comprehend something. “Reality” is personal. It is not universal. What I believe is true. What I perceive is real. Therefore, there is an infinite number of realities (call them universes) both coming and going at all times for infinity. The reason physics breaks down as we get close to that frightening doom is because we realize at that point that WE are the God we seek. We create our reality and destroy it.

    Is there a Bible when I die? Not for me. Is there a Milky Way Galaxy when I die? Not for me. Do you exist when I die? Not to me.

    A “life” is a dream so amazing and long coming that true comprehension is out of reach.


    Try meditation and find the heart in your stomach. Not the one in your chest. It is there. A bundle connecting mind and body. There are clues available to those who can concentrate and not waste time with religion. Look into the pool. See the reflection of the impossible. Perhaps you will see you.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Wow, I guess I put this in the wrong place. I did not know this was a KKK meeting. SEEE ya.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • trinitynj

      The Central Scrutinizer – enjoyed your answer. I wish more people answered with answers like you gave on the mysteries of life. Can you email me? – trinityfreire@yahoo.com

      December 28, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  17. Phyrro

    The article states: "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,”

    Until they heal an amputee, I will never believe this junk charismatic movement.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • sybaris

      Funny how their god "heals" those internal things but stops short of regenerating fingers and toes.

      Religion.......... the ultimate ponzi scheme.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Phyrro

      Reply to Sybaris. The omnipotent God can heal erectile dysfunction but not castration. Maybe there hope for me yet.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  18. thes33k3r

    Ignorance on parade. Pass the collection plate around.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • gary

      tax free money just handed to you and it's legal ... nice gig if you can stomach lying to people

      December 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  19. LEE


    That is exactly what the Bible says about unbelievers. Unbelievers do not understand that they are under God's wrath and judgment. You must repent of your sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for he is the only One that can atone for sin. He is the only Righteous one and his death satisfied the wrath due to His people.

    The Bible says you will not believe unless it is granted to you. You will not see that you are condemned until you heart is changed. I pray that God will open your eyes to see that you are a sinner according to God's perfect law and repent of your sin and believe on the Lord Jesus.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Eric G

      So, if I understand you correctly, you think that Jesus died for your sins and thus can do anything you want as long as you believe in him?

      Also, is it moral for you to accept that someone else died for something that you did?

      December 27, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • sybaris

      Lee, if you were born and raised in Saudi Arabia what religion would you most likely be following?

      December 27, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Phyrro

      You state: "Unbelievers do not understand that they are under God's wrath". Boy will you be sorry in Muslim hell.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Patrick

      That's the problem these days. Too many people like yourself who believe in myths and stories written by people hundreds and even thousands of years ago. It's fine to examine the stories for human truths but you need to look at stories from all different times and places and you don't go turning any of them into cults and religions. Nothing but pain and ignorance follow.

      December 27, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • gary

      look up Deut 23:1 the bible is nonsense, folklore, twisted ancient myth and nothing more. Only the delusional believe it is real. There are no invisible beings, no demons, no deities, etc. Peace.

      December 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  20. ParteDos

    All I can say is, there is nothing new under the sun. People will follow anything to soothe the pain, whether physical, emotional, and/or spiritual pain, they suffer at any given moment. People don't want to do the work – it is easier to be a sheep; it is simpler to be led ("...show me, tell me, teach me..."). I do not want to diminish the pain people are in at all. But, a weak soul is easily preyed upon and the wrong predator can smell them a million miles away...

    Churches who focus on charismatic worship don't necessarily get to the root of a person's problem or weakness. For example, those with mental illnesses are said to be possessed with demons and are in need of "...having their demons cast out...", instead of seeing a professional. Other social issues are dealt with inside of the confines of the ministry with prayer, laying on of hands, bible study, speaking in tongues; all well meaning, but the so-called leaders of the church need to know when to contact outsiders to intervene for instances of domestic violence, drug abuse, child abuse, homelessness, etc. In addition, emoting an audience with "God" allows mass manipulation (of the weak). And, just because a person or persons believes they are "called" (which appears to be every 30 or 40 seconds) and they are compelled to either open a store front church (the scourge of the Black community) or to invade a hotel (what a shame) to espouse their take on what's already been stated before, doesn't mean they know what they're doing with their online theological degree. What a shame.

    So, leave them be. Charismatic ministries may be on the rise throughout the world; but, just remember, there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, new under that sun.

    December 27, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
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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.