The foolishness of faith

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Roman centurion wanted Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant (Matthew 8), but added, "I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed." Jesus commended the soldier's "great faith" and announced, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." Verse 13 reports, "And his servant was healed that same hour."

I suspect Nneka Ekechukwu might fall into the "great faith" category. Several years ago her husband, Daniel, a Christian pastor in Nigeria, was in a car wreck on a Friday evening. Just before Daniel was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, he made his wife promise to get him to his own doctor. Daniel died of massive chest injuries on the way to the hospital, and the emergency room physician signed the death notice. Nneka, pregnant with their third child, unwilling to accept Daniel's death and wanting to honor his last wishes, convinced the ambulance driver to transport her husband's body to his own doctor. This doctor examined the body and also declared that Daniel was dead. The body was next taken to a mortuary and administered a chemical injection to slow down mortification.

Meanwhile Nneka kept speaking Hebrews 11:35, "women received their dead raised to life again" and believing that her husband would come back to life. On Sunday she had the body taken in its coffin to a church where the German missionary Reinhardt Bonnke was preaching. Finally the security people consented to put the body in an empty room in the church basement. Two church staff members, after much effort because of rigor mortis, got the body out of the coffin and laid out on a table, and began to pray for it.

As Bonnke preached unaware upstairs, Daniel's stomach began to twitch, then he drew a breath and soon began breathing. It's all on film because Bonnke's ministry draws millions of people and television crews. Daniel is well today with no scars or brain damage. I have the video with the "resurrection" footage and interviews with the doctors, mortician, Nneka and Daniel. I've also seen Daniel in televised interviews as he talks about his two days at heaven's and hell's gates. When asked why he was brought back to live on earth, Daniel said Jesus told him that he was going to be one of the signs to this generation.

I'm in awe of folks with great faith. I think a lot of us are helped in our faith as we hear testimonies and see miracles. I suspect the same was true in Jesus' day. Crowds of thousands followed him. Was it just to hear a Galilean preacher? I'd guess that a lot of folks came to get a healing or see a miracle.

Mark 8 tells about a crowd of 4,000 who stayed with Jesus for three days and ended up at a fish feast. If there'd just been good preaching without the miracles ("And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all." Matthew 12:15), do you think the crowds might have dwindled a little come dinnertime? Shucks, today we start checking our watches on Sunday mornings when our stomachs start growling. And heaven forbid that the churchgoers down the road beat us to the restaurant!

I haven't met Nneka Ekechukwu, but I like her. I like her tenacity, her bulldog faith, her bold decrees in the face of impossibility, her determination, her willingness to be thought a fool. I have a hunch that if more of us Christians were as foolish as she, we'd see more miracles today.

June Seabaugh is a member of Christ Church of the Heartland in Cape Girardeau.

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