Monday, July 11, 2011

Testimony From Nigeria...?

What do you think of this video? 

I don't think cynicism or skepticism is a fruit of the Spirit, but I do think a healthy concern for truth is. Would it please God if I accepted this report without any further evidence than the report itself? I don't know. I know God values faith, but He values faith in Himself, not necessarily faith in what I hear on youtube. Do I want this report to be true? Absolutely. Do I think it is? Maybe. I feel like the father of the demon-possessed boy in Mark 9: "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

The report claims that 500 people received new limbs. Limbs! We're not talking about people in wheelchairs unsteadily rising to their feet when the adrenaline is pumping. We're not talking about people with uneven legs suddenly having even ones (which, I have to say, is a terribly unconvincing "miracle" in every video I've ever seen). We're talking about people who don't have arms and legs getting arms and legs. And 500 of them at that. This is a truly incredible claim.

Stuff like this stirs up mixed emotions for me. I have spent the last five years of my life in full-time ministry and much of that time has been spent trying to witness to highly skeptical people. As far as these people are concerned, nothing miraculous or supernatural has ever occurred or ever will occur. Paranormal claims, they say, never hold up under scrutiny. Even though I have fundamental disagreements with these people, I have to admit that when it comes to my own personal research I have also found that most "supernatural" claims are easily dismissed. With a few questionable exceptions, most remarkable claims turn out to have natural explanations, as much as I would prefer otherwise. 

So, when I hear a report like this, you'll have to forgive me if my first reaction isn't "Hallelujah!" Instead I find myself wondering: Did no one in the crowd have the presence of mind to realize that this event was worth documenting? Maybe 20 years ago "no one had a video camera" would be a legitimate excuse, but not today. I realize Nigeria isn't exactly smartphone central, but this report was coming from American missionaries. Did no one take a video? I've googled "limbs regrown in Nigeria" and looked on youtube but I can't find anything. 

If 500 people really received new limbs, I'm sure many of those people have family members who can testify to the fact that, not long ago, they didn't have those limbs. I'm sure there is photographic (and video) evidence proving that many of these people once did not have limbs. Out of 500 people, surely there is at least one person who's transition from no-limb to limb can be proven. Never mind just one - there should be dozens.

Do people not realize that all it takes is one documented case of a limb growing back to destroy the entire philosophy of atheistic materialism? Right now, millions (maybe even billions?) of educated people hide from God by saying that the material world is the only thing that exists, but if 500 people had limbs grow back in a revival meeting that philosophy should be finished. Who, in the face of that evidence, would be able to maintain a purely naturalistic worldview? Only the absurdly obstinate. 

If this really happened, where are the news reports? In this time of global interconnectedness, why can't I find anything on Google? Why isn't half of National Geographic's staff in Nigeria investigating? There should be thousands of witnesses and an incontrovertible amount of evidence demonstrating that 500 people did not have limbs and now they do. Is anyone looking into this? If not, I'd be glad to. Just tell me where to go and take care of my finances, please!

There is a well-known atheist website called "Why Won't God Heal Amputees?" If God really does heal people, the site asks, then why are there no cases of Him healing amputees? The reason, they say, is because God doesn't exist and the healing of an amputee is one of the few "miracles" that can't be faked or achieved through natural means or chance. I disagree that "God doesn't exist" follows from the premise "amputees aren't healed," but that's beside the point. If this event actually took place, it's time for this site to come down. Has anyone informed the webmaster? 

I don't mean to sound sarcastic. I just can't comprehend how an event so miraculous could occur and only be known to a handful of "wacky charismatics" (and I use that term lovingly, believe me). What is going on here? I can only think of four legitimate options:

(1) The event never took place.
(2) The Devil controls the media and the scientific establishment in a way that prevents this sort of event from being verified and reported.
(3) God only performs these kinds of miracles when circumstances prevent them from being reported/verified because He doesn't want them to be known.
(4) The events will be verified and reported around the world, this just hasn't happened yet.

My favorite option is #4, but I actually think it's the least likely. The video was posted two and a half months ago. Surely that's enough time for some sort of report to emerge. I really hope #1 is not the answer, but if I'm honest I have to admit it's the option I consider most likely given my history of seeing supernatural claims dissolve under scrutiny. Both #2 and #3 are frustrating. If #2 is true, I can't help but wonder why God allows the Devil that degree of influence. If #3 is true, I'm left baffled by God's ways (what's new?). 

How about you? Do you lean toward one of the options I've suggested? Do you think there is another option (or options)? 


  1. I found the video terrifying, as an atheist it was almost insulting to see a man talk about acts of God as if he were God himself.
    It's no wonder you have non believers when you see things like this.
    It shows to me the dark side of religion where weaknesses or vulnerabilities are exploited by charismatic speakers.
    Your blog was very balanced however and brings the reader back to a true sense of what religion can mean.

    1. Hi Roy,

      Thanks for your comment and for the kind words about my blog. I agree with you - if this report is in fact a fabrication, it is an awful example of church leaders exploiting the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of others. On the other hand, if it's real that's great - but such extraordinary claims merit a little more evidence than "someone says that someone said...," especially when such claims should be so easily verifiable.

    2. Hi Ryan, you are welcome

      I actually really appreciated your honesty in challenging such a 'claim'. Especially when you seem to be a learnered religious person.
      To make such claims as the speaker does simply astounded me, if they are true then I for one would quickly convert as it would provide undeniable evidence that miracles for one reason or another can happen. I'd happily place my faith in a higher being or power, but to claim that not only were persons cured of leprosy and disfigurement, others confined to wheelchairs run to the stage,,,limbs miraculously grew,,,,,all incredible but to say children were raised from the dead?

      I actually think this is rather sad and gives false hope to those people who are unfortunate to be in the same position.

      This type of apparent lie only serves to push those uncertain about faith further from any religion.

      You seem like one of the good guys though,,,,good luck on witnessing to others

  2. Nobody else has responded to this? I have tried to do research on miracles taking place in the world, and have found no evidence for any of them.

    1. I only wrote a short reply because I wasn't sure it would post.
      I started looking for proof of God's miracles when I was a Christian. Had been a Christian for about 25 years, involved in the ministry, married to a Pentecostal preacher, and leading worship. I had never really had access to computers, so I just believed all the stories about miracles, the ones that always happened in Africa, or some other backwards place where they had no camera's, or good medical proffesionals to confirm claims.
      I was actually VERY surprised there were NONE.......
      No miracles, and no proven " ghost" or demon possession stories either.
      I have since then done a lot more reading, and have actually become an Atheist. I no longer believe any of the things I believed, I no longer just take somebodies word for things.
      I was very gullible for 25 years. I told people that Jesus was my closest friend...but honestly, I never heard from him.
      I told people God answered my prayers., but to be honest, he never healed as much as a simple head ache or tooth ache....never mind anything worse.
      And Christian know this to be true.....that's why they take medicine, go to doctors, and have insurance.
      They know God is not there, and yet they swear he has never let them down.
      They will explain the lack of healing away with something like " you don't have enough faith "...or " there must be some deeper reason"....
      I would recommend you listen to some episodes of " the atheist experience" they have Christian callers call in all the time, trying to prove that god exists, and that the bible doesn't contradict itself, and they never make a good strong point or argument.
      Now, why would a Christian, with the almighty god on his side, not be able to speak words of wisdom that would just baffle the average atheist?.....The bible says " don't worry about what you will say"....yet, nothing but ignorance comes out of their mouths.......That makes me wonder...a lot....
      I know it would be easy for you to say I was never a Christian.....but, if I wasn;t sincere, I wouldn't know what I could possibly have done differently.....I believed strongly, prayed , fasted...and I now now, looking back , that I REALY believed, no doubt in my mind.

      Anyway......people make up stories about so called miracles, because they want it to be true so badly...they may even think they are doing god a favor by somehow using it to draw more people? who knows.

      I became an Atheist....I waited ( honestly) for a good while , because I thought Jesus would maybe come looking for his lost sheep ( me).....If it was true, and he was there, I was most certainly very lost and pitiful.....I still cried out In the dark.....saying.....if you are there, shepherd, come find your lost sheep and carry me home.....
      So, if he is real......and refuses to comfort and help a lost sheep in a struggle....then maybe he is ( again) not doing what the bible says he will do.
      So.....over time......I have become convinced it is all a lie.