< This was probably written in 2000 >
Although I am not a conventional Christian, I was raised in the Pentecostal tradition and my experiences there were life-changing. Even with decades between me and some of these events. they still hold important indications of the nature of divinity.
The most incredible of these experiences occurred when I was 9. I was born with a double cleft lip and palate. I had a slit on each side of the center of my lip, and a long slit down the roof of my mouth. Plastic surgery in the 1960's could close the lip and the soft palate, but not the hard palate. A narrow slit remained. When I ate, food would pass through it and enter my nasal passages and sometime the eustachion tubes to the ears. I had several deafening earaches and a couple of eardrum ruptures.
When I was nine, my father learned about a faith-healer visiting a nearby town. We attended and this preacher was there calling out illnesses he said God revealed to him. He called out epilepsy and a few other details of the person he was to pray for, and my dad believed it was him. He went down and after the prayer, he never took his medication again. Never had another seizure.
Needless to say, my Dad became a true believer in this man. We went all over western Illinois and my Dad even began to help manage some aspects of the meetings.
One night, near the end of one of these healing "crusades" I went forward and asked the minister to pray for my palate. I went home that night full of faith that I would be healed. I told my parents that the roof of my mouth was tingling.
The next morning, my parents say they saw skin growing across the cleft. In about 2 months, the cleft was reduced to a fraction of its original size. Then, it unexplainedly stopped closing. I remember some kind of impression in my mind that the healing was over.
On the basis of this experience, I believe in a healing power that is accessible to humans, though it is not under human control. Faith seems to be part of how it works, but I know enough true believers who have never found their healing to know that it is an inscrutable agency.
I am not making any kind of truth claim for Pentecostalism or Christianity. I am reporting this experience as best I recall it. I know that "prayer" does seem to release something inside our bodies and I still participate in meetings where needs for healing are held in the Light of divinity.