The Steve Hill Meeting: Part II
In my "Steve Hill meeting Part I" I recounted some general observations from the meeting Hill held at People's Church in Salem, Oregon on January 10, 2000. This missive will pay particular attention to the medical miracles, or lack of them, that I noted.
For the last 20 years or so I have been occupied in the field of surgery. At present I am a quite busy general surgeon, and have probably performed 5000 operations or so and have taken care of hundreds of ICU patients. By training, then, I am perhaps a bit more observant of a person's medical condition then the average churchgoer might be.
Upon arriving at People's church sanctuary on Monday night there were several things I observed that were somewhat bothersome. The first I have already mentioned in the previous post; I encountered a very nice gal who used to work for me. She was in a pew but instead of sitting up was bent over with her forehead on the back of the pew in front of her and appeared frozen in that position.
She later explained that God had froze her as she was sitting in the pew praying. The freezing only lasted until the service begin, and she was again able to move freely.
What makes her case particularly interesting is the fact that she has some type of seizure disorder that developed about a week after her return from a pilgrimage to Brownsville A/G several years ago. Her first seizure occurred as she was driving her son to school.
Fortunately, he was able to get their Suburban off the road without any accidents occurring. Subsequent medical evaluation did not reveal any basis for the seizures, but she continued to have them. As a result she lost her driver's license.
At the very least she would not be a "poster child" for a Brownsville healing miracle, unless being frozen in position bent over is considered a miracle. Of course Hill and Brownsville A/G had presented a young lady who shakes her head violently as an indication of her neck being healed.
Second, at the beginning of the service the speaker made an interesting request: "Parents, please make sure you keep your children with you whenever people are being prayed for. We almost had several hurt last night during ministry time." When he first started, I was expecting him to repeat something like William Branham used to teach at his healing crusades.
He cautioned that any children who wander away from their parents might be attacked by demons and crippled. But the request that evening was much more mundane; apparently a couple of munchkins had almost been injured as people were collapsing after being "slain in the spirit."
This immediately caused me to wonder whether God was acting responsibly or not in the "fresh anointing" services. Is God really going to knock over some 300 pound gal who then proceeds to squish some three year old who has wandered away from his Mom and Dad, who are perhaps in the throes of being "anointed" themselves?
I noticed several folk I had operated on in the past, some of whom came and greeted me. Two in particular stood out in my mind; they were seated quite close to the front, and I had done surgery on both for cancer.
The first was a very sweet lady about 70 years old that who came to me several years ago for breast cancer. What was noteworthy about her case was that between the time we made the diagnosis of breast cancer (with a needle biopsy) and the time she was scheduled to have a lumpectomy she was prayed for at this same church and was "slain in the spirit."
She, along with others, were convinced that the "slaying" was evidence that she had been healed. When I examined her the next day it sure appeared to me that the breast mass was still there. She agreed to proceed with surgery. I did the lumpectomy and accompanied the specimen to the pathologist, who cut it and did a frozen section.
It sure appeared to the pathologist that the cancer was still there. Subsequent tests revealed that this was a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, and besides radiation therapy she also required chemotherapy. The stress of the treatment forced her into retirement -- she had previously operated a catering business.
Fortunately, there hasn't been any suggestion of a recurrence of the cancer. Some might argue that the lack of recurrence is proof of a medical miracle. If it is, it's sure not the way Jesus did things. The nice lady was functioning as part of the prayer team at the meeting.
Another patient had been on the board of elders at People's Church in the past. I split his sternum and removed a lung cancer about five or six months ago. His cancer was somewhat unusual; there was evidence that it had not arisen in the lung, but from somewhere else, possibly the skin. (No, he was not a smoker.)
For some 30 years this unfortunate man has had recurrent skin cancers and literally has a skin cancer removed somewhere on his body on a monthly basis. Some of the cancer surgery has required extensive plastic reconstruction. Needless to say, his prognosis is quite guarded. At present, he is certainly not an example of a "medical miracle."
Just before the service started I noted a very sweet gal who works in my office at present. She has had chronic neck pain since an automobile accident several years ago. More on her in a few paragraphs, though.
I also noted several other people towards the front of the church with specific medical problems. There was an elderly man sitting in the "pastor's pew" just in front of me with an obvious left sided hemiparesis. As I recall, his left hand was curled in, and he used a cane to help him walk.
Just to the right of me there was a deaf interpreter ministering to several people who obviously couldn't hear. I also noticed a silver-haired gentleman in the choir who appeared to have had a stroke and had the same physical characteristics of the pastor in front of me.
During "ministry time" there was a young fellow in a wheelchair who probably was a paraplegic who attempted to receive a healing.
The final physical abnormality that I noted was on none other then Steve Hill himself. I was seated in the second pew back, and on one occasion he came within about six or eight feet of me. I was able to notice a fairly good size skin lesion (maybe five millimeters in diameter) located on the right glabella (bridge of the nose) adjacent to the inner aspect of the eye. It's probably a benign lesion, but if it gets much larger will certainly require removal, and probably by a plastic surgeon.
I'm a general surgeon, and I know that I would refer a patient with that type of mole to a plastic surgeon for removal. Hill also had a mole on his posterior left neck which is also probably benign.
Midway through the song service Hill's sidekick, Bob Rogers, announced that besides salvation there was also healing in the atonement. He then tried his hand at "calling out" a healing. He announced that God, at that very minute, was healing someone of four vessel coronary artery disease, and probably in the balcony.
He instructed the healee, who he didn't identify, to place their hand over their heart, and told them that they would feel a warm sensation at that location which was an indication that God was fixing the problem inside. If God was doing something no one was willing to 'fess up to it.
I was struck by the irony of Rogers getting up and proclaiming that healing was readily available in the atonement in this particular church. Within the past year the head Pastor of People's Church, David Markese, died a lingering painful death at age 50 from cancer after refusing medical treatment. (Although in fairness, any treatment would have probably only succeeded in delaying his death.)
He had received a personal prophecy at the Church that the illness wasn't unto death. Several months later, a missionary from the same Church also died a rather gruesome death from cancer after refusing surgery months earlier that might have saved his life.
This missionary was the author of a book entitled "I'm Healed! Put the Coffin Back!" After a series of emergency surgeries, his life ended when his family announced to ICU personnel that they had received their miracle and God had completely healed the man.
All God wanted him to do was march around his ICU bed seven times. The ICU nurses was quite skeptical about the proposed treatment plan, but finally agreed after the family signed several release forms.
The family then hoisted him out of bed and dragged him around the bed. I'm not sure which lap God called him home, but he was quite dead long before lap number seven was completed.
In any event, the pastor and the missionary sure aren't "poster kids" for divine healing. I don't know if anybody had a Divine quadruple vessel bypass surgery done that evening, but like I said, if they did, they sure weren't admitting it.
After the salvation altar call and several hundred sinners (including
two from the choir) getting right with God, Hill opened "Ministry time."
He announced that this was a "fresh anointing" for preachers. Any preacher
whose shadow was not healing the sick needed to come down and get a fresh
batch of anointing. Hill did humbly admit that his shadow wasn't quite
That caused me to wonder just how you would know if your shadow was healing the sick. If I possessed that power I probably wouldn't know about it, since around here we don't have many sick people lying on sidewalks in the sunshine. I don't know of any place in the US where you could readily test out this gifting.
Normally if you go to a hospital everything is on the inside and it wouldn't be possible to cast a good shadow on a patient. I suppose you could bring along a portable flood light, and set it up so you could cast a shadow on the person in the hospital bed. Who knows? Maybe it will become part of a hospital visitation; you serve the stricken some communion, and then turn on the floodlight so your shadow can fall on them.
Hey -- my ideal has as least as much scriptural foundation as being slain in the spirit, and everyone one who is anyone in the Pentecostal movement seems to be practicing that nowadays.
Anyway, the "fresh anointing" service started and soon Hill and sidekick Rogers were rushing around whacking everyone on the head. A bunch of people fell down. One of them was the sweet gal who works for me that I mentioned earlier. She has had chronic neck pain since an auto accident several years ago, and went forward "with an open mind seeking more of the Lord."
I was finally able to sit down with her and talk about it earlier this
morning. She said she was bothered how Hill refused to make eye contact
with her -- He looked away from her when she was talking to him, and then
grabbed her head and gave it a slight twist. It actually took Hill three
twists on her head to get her down on the ground. I watched the entire
scene, and it
was obvious that Hill was pushing her down to the floor. Since she's only about a little over five feet tall and weighs maybe 110 pounds soaking wet it wouldn't be too difficult to do, especially for someone of Hill's size.
I asked her what she felt. She said she felt nothing. She also thought that maybe if she just laid there for a while that maybe something would happen. Nothing did. I asked her the next day how her neck was doing, and she said it wasn't really any different from the day before.
But now, her condition has changed. She says it hurts quite a bit more then it did. It was bothering her so much that she absolutely refused to let me demonstrate the Hill maneuver on her for the edification of the other office staff.
What about the other people that I had noticed? Hill did pray for the silver haired choir fellow with the stroke. He still appeared to have the stroke after prayer. Rather then pray for the fellow in the wheelchair who came for prayer, an usher wheeled him away from the front to the back, almost out of the sanctuary.
The pastor with the stroke, my patient with the breast cancer, and my patient with the lung cancer -- as far as I know, nothing happened. None of the people in the deaf section were called out for healing. Of course, perhaps the people in the deaf section didn't really want to be healed, or maybe the Holy Spirit didn't realize they were there.
There is a record album that I've had for almost 40 years by Revivaltime Choir, conducted by Cyril McClellan. I think the title is "Music of the Pentecostal Churches." One of the songs on it is "Living on the Shore": The chorus lyrics are as follows:
Living on the Shore, I'm living on the Shore
I'm living where the Healing Waters Flow!
Living on the Shore, I'm living on the Shore
I'm living where the Healing Waters Flow!
Sadly, where I was at on Monday night was not where the Healing Waters were Flowing. "The River" doesn't seem to be flowing with healing water. If anything, it was where the huckster waters were flowing. No one there was getting healed of anything. If anything did happen, people were worse off then before.
I realize that I have just made a rather strong statement. I am accusing Hill and Rogers of being frauds and charlatans, at least when it comes to Divine healing. Someone has noted, though, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Hill and company have been claiming that Divine healing accompanies their ministries for several years.
He has claimed that people have been healed of cancer in his meetings. He has claimed that the Spirit of the Lord is so intense that he expected resurrections to start occurring.
But where is the evidence? Where are these people that have been healed? Consider the patients I noticed at the service: there were two people with hemiplegia (paralyzed on one side) and a young fellow with apparent paraplegia (paralyzed below the waist). There was at least several who were deaf.
There is one thing I can guarantee you about these people; they all have extensive sets of medical records. Furthermore, these medical records are readily available to any treating physician. If any of them were healed, confirmation of their miracle would be an almost trivial matter.
For someone who beats the publicity drums like Hill does, if such a miracle occurred the confirming evidence would be published abroad and with much gusto, along with an announcement of the next Steve Hill Ministries meeting, an invitation to view his upcoming television special, and a plea for funds.
But you never hear anything like that. Why not? It's because Hill and company are lying through their teeth when they announce that God is now performing Divine coronary artery bypass grafting in the balcony. They are lying when they claim that because of the divine healing occurring in their meetings that family members are coming and getting saved. They are lying when they announce that God is getting ready to start resurrections in their services. And they are lying when they announce that people with seizure-like conditions are engaged in "intercession" and that shaking the head violently is an indication of healing.
Hill & company are quite gifted at dodging questions about their operations, though. You don't believe that Steve Hill has the gift of healing? That must mean that you don't believe that God heals people today!
You weren't healed of your paraplegia? It must have been because you don't have enough faith!! How could Steve Hill be lying about any of this when all those hundreds of thousands of people are getting saved at Brownsville and in his "Awake America" crusades?
It's true that Hill appears to be the most successful soul-winner since Jimmy Swaggart. (See Endnote) But Swaggart had a problem, and Hill does too. The Spirit of Truth is nowhere to be seen. Instead of "Awake America," I would suggest "Awake, Assemblies of God!" Your most famous preacher is deeply involved in spiritual deception, and practices and encourages lying from the pulpit.
There were obvious problems with Bakker and Swaggart, but it took a national scandal for the problem to be dealt with in each instance. Please don't repeat this with Steve Hill. I urge you to prayerfully consider and deal with this problem.
In Jesus mighty Name,
Benjamin R. Wilson, MD
ENDNOTE by DITC: What appears to be fact to some is fiction to others. Just because Steve Hill can cajole thousands of people to come up front in his meetings by using the name of Jesus and getting them to repent, then conferring an occult "anointing" on them does not a "most successful soul-winner" make. The MacDonalds-style tote board of "souls" from Brownsville/Awake America! is a scam from beginning to end. Keep in mind what the Bible has to say about this matter:
2 Cor. 11:3-4 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
1 Cor. 15:2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
That Steve Hill has not been holding "firmly to the word" is an understatement at best. If that is the case, which is well documented, then the poor souls who sit under his teaching have "believed in vain". It would be more accurate to state that he is a heretic of the first order in so many ways it is hard to count them all.
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