Heidi and Rolland Baker head a burgeoning Christian effort (Iris Ministries) in Mozambique. Iris is planting around a thousand churches a year in a region which has historically been resistant to Christianity. A key part of their ministry is prayer for healing. Friends of mine have traveled to Mozambique and reported back that they saw numerous healing miracles in Iris’s meetings. Often this occurs in visits to villages, where people can see that individuals whom they knew to be formerly deaf or mute can now hear and speak. For instance, this one-minute clip shows a woman declaring her vision to now be “normal”, and her villagers rejoicing (“Obrigado” means “Thank you” in Portuguese). I heard Heidi speak in New Jersey last week. The main thrust of her talk was living a life of radical love and trust in God. She mentioned that there is a special grace on her ministry for healing of deafness, such that essentially everyone from their local Makua tribe gets healed. She noted that a team of PhD’s had recently come to check out reports of these healings. She indicated that some of these scientists had arrived as skeptics, but were won over by what they observed. The results of this research have just been published by Brown., et al. here in the peer-reviewed Southern Medical Journal. I suggest downloading the “Article as PDF” for better readability. The researchers measured changes in hearing and vision before and after healing prayer.
For hearing, they used a standard audiometer which made tones of varying loudness in a pair of earphones. The subjects responded verbally or by pressing a button when they could hear the tones. This enabled the researchers to determine how soft a sound that the subject could hear in each ear. The usable results for hearing before and after prayer are shown in the figure below.
For each ear tested, the left bar shows the hearing threshold before prayer, and the adjacent (right) bar shows the hearing threshold after prayer. Lower bars mean better hearing ability. Seven subjects had both ears tested, and three had only one ear tested. There was a high level (50-100 decibels) of ambient noise during the testing, so it seems that a 40-50 decibel hearing theshold was about normal here. The researchers note that “Field conditions were challenging.” I can imagine the noise and chaos they had to endure, along with language and cultural barriers. For many ears the hearing threshold dropped dramatically after prayer, indicating healing. The article clinically notes “a significant effect of PIP on auditory function (P < 0.003)”, where a P value this low indicates a super-high statistical effect. “PIP” stands for “Proximal Intercessory Prayer”, which denotes prayer typically within earshot of the recipient. For the seven ears which started with significantly impaired hearing (approximately 70+ decibel hearing threshold under these measuring conditions), every single one got major ( more than 20 dB) improvement. Two ears went from deaf or nearly deaf to normal. All but one person (designated subject 7H-2) came away with normal range hearing in at least one ear. Even 7H-2 went from majorly deaf in the right ear to merely impaired. This backs up Heidi’s claim of essentially 100% healing of deafness in Iris’s evangelistic meetings.
For vision testing, the subjects were shown a chart with E’s pointing up or down or left or right. The subjects were asked to identify which direction each E faced. Lower rows on the chart had smaller and smaller E’s, to test the visual acuity. The usable before and after results are shown in the following figure:
Lower is better for these data bars. As I understand it, a value of 6 here represents 20/20 vision. Again, many improvements were shown after prayer. The scientists concluded that significant improvement was observed (P= 0.02). As I see it, five of these ten subjects were more or less blind (6/100 is like 20/333 vision). Two out of these five improved to pretty good vision (6/7 , 6/10), two ended up with some usable vision (6/20, 6/35), and one showed no measurable improvement. Three cases started with moderately impaired vision (6/30 to 6/50); two of these three showed significant improvement. Subjects 7 and 9 started off with fairly decent vision, and showed little or no improvement. So there it is, in black and white. It is not known how much of the initial vision problems were near- or far-sightedness, versus problems with the retina or cataracts. In a region with no optometrists or money for glasses, correction of severe myopia counts as healing of blindness.
To get an understanding of how Heidi and Rolland Baker function in a supernatural lifestyle, I’d suggest visiting YouTube for videos of their talks, finding a time (maybe while doing the dishes) when you can let the video stream for at least 30 minutes. Heidi has a unique blend of inherent faith, gushing love, and administrative vision that keeps her joyful and effective in the face of some horrifying disasters. Rolland is a bit of an odd duck, a man with a genius-level intellect now living and trying to interpret a life of childlike faith. Rolland and Heidi also have books available through Amazon. They and their associates are the real deal, laying down their lives to bring blessing to the poorest of the poor.
The article did not attempt to explain mechanisms by which functional improvements occurred. The article includes discussion on why some other studies, typically in Western countries and not involving hands-on ministry by Pentecostal-type Christians, showed lesser benefits to healing prayer. My add: There does seem to be a huge disconnect between stories of miracles overseas and the lack of confirmed miracles in the West. In Tim Stafford’s Christianity Today article about the Bakers’ ministry, he noted that the same researchers (led by Candice Brown of Indiana University) had confirmed miraculous healings in Brazil, but were unable to do so at charismatic Christian gatherings in North America. Nevertheless, there are glimmers, even in the U.S. The largest credible community I know of in North America that models a lifestyle of the miraculous is Bethel church in Redding, CA. Talks, testimonies, and books can be found on Bethel’s website. Also, Global Awakening (Mechanicsburg, PA), which co-sponsored the outreach in Mozambique studied above, offers training in many cities for effective healing prayer.
POSTSCRIPT: I added a short post The Power Behind The Miracles in Mozambique summarizing Rolland Baker’s description of the attitudes and practices that power their lives. For more on healings in answer to prayer, see Healings on YouTube: Legs Growing Out . ******* FOR FIRST-TIME VISITORS TO THIS BLOG ********* Other posts are listed on the right hand side of the main page. For instance, one deals with God and chaos in the book of Job, and how that may relate to evolution. There are longer essays or letters dealing with science and faith (e.g. STAN 3) that are accessed by clicking the tabs at the top of the page. I’d suggest skimming the README page first, to get an overview of what is in these essays.