The “Happy Hunter’s” Revolution in Healing Prayer

The “Happy Hunter’s” Revolution in Healing Prayer
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“The Happy Hunters:” The “disciples’ authority” recovered

 

One would think that after over a hundred and fifty years of exploring and developing the Christian healing ministry, by brilliant, graced, and devout people, all that the Bible teaches about healing has been recovered. That is a common sense assumption, but it is probably not true.

A case study of this is the ministry a humble husband and wife healing team, Charles and Francis Hunter. They revolutionized the Renewalist world in the 1980s with their discovery that the healing ministry is most effective when spoken commands are given, just as Jesus did. This has been sporadically recorded in the Christian healing literature for ages. For example, healing commands were common in the ministry of the famous faith teacher, Smith Wigglesworth. In one his resuscitations from the dead, he came into a sick room as the woman died:

…I reached over into the bed and pulled her out. I carried her across the room, stood her against the wall and held her up, as she was absolutely dead. I looked into her face and said “In the name of Jesus I rebuke this death.” ….her whole body began to tremble. “In the name of Jesus, I command you to walk,” I said. I repeated, “In the name of Jesus, walk!” and she walked.[1]

 

 

But command/prayers of this sort have not been understood as something to be used regularly by all Christians. The Hunter’s development of Command Healing as normative is the latest, and perhaps most practical aspect of Faith-Idealism to be developed in the contemporary Church.

Command Healing was apparently done by the disciples from their first commissioning when Jesus sent them into the countryside of Judea:

“Heal the sick who are there and tell them, `The kingdom of God is near you.’ … The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” (Lk 10:8-9, 17)

Although we have no descriptions as to exactly how the seventy two ministered to the sick and demon possessed, it is significant that they were amazed by their authority, and did not mention prayer. From earliest times Christians have always ministered the exorcism of evil spirits as a direct command to the malignant entities, but normally healing commands were not continued.

It is in the book of Acts that we have detailed accounts how the Apostles and disciple healed and cast out demons.             It was always by command. For example, when Peters saw the lame beggar near the Temple:

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. (Acts 3: 6-7)

Command healing in Jesus’ name was not just a prerogative of the Apostles. We see the same thing in Paul’s account of his healing from the blindness he suffered when he first met the Risen Lord on the road to Demascus.

“A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, `Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him. (Acts 22:12-13)

Like so many great discoveries, the Biblical evidence is obvious once you are aware of it. But Christians who have believed in healing prayer have almost universally prayed prayers of petition, as in, “Oh Lord, in the name of Jesus, please heal Aunt Sue of her cancer,” etc. This is because prayers of petition are an important and valid way to pray, and we are most accustomed to them. That this was exposed by the Hunters as less than biblically normative has been one of the major steps in the Church’s recovery of its New Testament authority and power in the last century and a half.

 

The Happy Hunters:

Charles and Francis Hunter[2] have received scant attention from the general public.[3] No scandal has tarnished their decades of national and worldwide ministry. Humble people, they lived in a middle class home for decades, and collected a modest salary from their ministry. They donated the very substantial royalties from their books into their healing and evangelism ministry. At one point in the 1990s they used up all their savings to sponsor a special worldwide evangelistic drive and had only enough cash for one meal at the local restaurant. Providentially, fresh donations to their ministry came in the next day.[4] The Hunters have made the cover of the charismatic journal Charisma several times, but have had no coverage in such important Christian magazines as Christianity Today or other mainline media.[5]

Charles and Francis met and married late in their lives, in 1970. Charles had been a believer all of his life, but in a cessationist denomination. Luckily, both he and his first wife, Jeanne, had read Agnes Sanford’s Healing Light and Genevieve Parkhurst’s Healing and Wholeness are Yours.[6] Through those books the Charles and Jeanne had come to reject the stealth heresy and believe in healing prayer.

Mrs. Parkhurst was a disciple of Agnes Sanford, and major CFO speaker. People who remember her from the CFO circuit recall both her stately appearance as well as her Christ like faith and humility – and her power in prayer. She wrote a half dozen books on healing prayer, including one on the most important early works on inner healing, Glorious Victory Through Healing of Memories.[7]

Mrs. Jeanne Hunter, Charles’ first wife, came down with ovarian cancer, and in seeking prayer support Charles was able to contact Mrs. Parkhurst directly. Mrs. Parkhurt came to visit and pray for Jeanne. The Hospital room where Jeanne lay seemed filled with the glory of God, and Jeanne rallied. During this period Jeanne received a deep inner healing, but she ultimately passed away, happy to go to her Lord.[8] Charles grieved his wife’s loss. He knew however that she had gone to her true home, and renewed his own ministry of evangelization. A few months later he met Francis Gardner, who was on an evangelistic speaking tour.

Francis had been a widow for many years, and became a born-again Christian relatively late in life. She was raised in a liturgical church, – but never had the gospel plainly taught to her until she was forty nine. At that point she became a self-describe “Gospel fanatic” and joined an Evangelical church and learned soul-wining through instructors from Campus Crusade for Christ. Francis discovered she had a special anointing in this and wrote about her efforts in her first book, God is Fabulous.[9] She was soon invited to talk about her ministry throughout the country.

She also learned about the Holy Spirit. Although her church was not charismatic or Pentecostal, she began reading some of the charismatic books then just coming to print. On one of her evangelistic tours to Houston, Francis was introduced by a local pastor to Charles Hunter. She described what happened next:

As I shook his hand the most amazing thing happened! NEVER IN MY LIFE HAS THE SPIRIT OF GOD IN MY BODY BLENDED WITH THE SPIRIT OF GOD IN ANOTHER PERSON LIKE IT DID WITH CHARLES HUNTER! I stood there completely enveloped in the power of God’s Holy Spirit and for two solid minuets I didn’t say a word…The three of us were completely under the spell of God’s Holy Spirit.[10]

The couple began corresponding, and within a few months were married. Soon after, they began ministering together. But now, not only proclaiming salvation, but the message of Pentecost and healing.

From the very start of their ministry the Hunters observed and learned healing techniques from a multitude of sources. They picked up the old Pentecostal technique of praying for a person’s backache by “leg extension.” That is, having the person sit in a chair and extend his legs, and praying that the legs be equalized in length. As the legs equalize the spinal column comes into alignment, untangles pinched nerves, and often heals the backache. They learned a similar technique, arm extension, from healing evangelist, Joe Poppell. He had been doing it for years to heal upper back pain and chest disorders.

 

Command breakthrough:

As the Hunters ministered they experienced many miraculous healings. But not to the degree that they expected and saw described in the Bible, where all who came to Jesus were healed. (Mt. 8:16, etc.). They asked the Lord for a breakthrough. Charles described what happened:

One night a man came on the stage, held up by two people, and leaning heavily on two walking canes. He did not have the strength to life his feet off the floor; he scooted them along…When we finished praying, instead of saying “Praise the Lord and go on your way,” we said, “PICK UP YOUR CANES AND WALK!” He lifted his canes off the floor and slid his feet forward, and he didn’t fall!…pretty soon I was running alongside of him across the stage, and he began to say,
Praise the Lord!”[11]

Now, what makes this moment significant in the Renewalist movement is not that it was an original discovery, which it was not, but that thereafter they ministered by commands consistently and consciously. Furthermore, from the beginning of their ministry together they understood that every disciple (born again believer) had the authority and duty to heal the sick and cast out demons in Jesus’ name. Thus they began to teach and encourage command healing as the prerogative of every believer, and not just those especially gifted with faith such as Smith Wigglesworth.

Their technique was not perfect. At the beginning they believed that it was necessary to shout healing commands. My sister, who was among the first in her religious order, to become charismatic, recalls a healing event that the Hunter’s did in her parish in Scarsdale, New York, about 1974. A large Catholic charismatic congregation came, about four hundred people, and although some healing were done most person were entirely put off by the Hunter’s shouts and commands. The Hunters soon discerned that the authority of the command did not depend on its decibel level.

In spite of some missteps, the Hunters learned and adjusted. In order to focus the force of the command (and healing energies), they began asking the supplicant “What does the doctor say about your situation?” This proved to be very helpful in understanding exactly what was wrong and what organ afflicted. Through trial and error, and consultation with medical professionals, they developed patterns of command/prayers for specific diseases. For example, in praying of a person with diabetes they would cast out any spirit of inheritance, then command a new pancreas to be formed “in the name of Jesus.”[12]

In 1981 the Hunters published their now classic work, How to Heal the Sick.[13] This book incorporated a quasi-chiropractic understanding of healing ministry. That is, they had learned from chiropractic physicians, and from observing the results of the arms and foot extensions, that straitening the spine was an effective part in healing all sorts of ailments. This is basic to chiropractic. With this insight, they had added two other laying on of hands procedures with prayer commands, one to the neck and another to the pelvis. These supplemented the arms and leg extensions. They used very simple, almost self-deprecating, vocabulary in calling these moves “the neck thing,” “the arm thing,” etc. Doing all of them was “the total thing” (TTT).

A renowned chiropractor, Dr Roy Le Roy, heard about the Hunter’s ministry and came to witness one of their events with the specific intension of exposing and debunking them. He was astounded at what he saw, and became instead their close friend and ministry adviser.[14] Since then the Hunter’s ministry has had a more self-conscious chiropractic slant.

We should make it clear however, that the Hunter method and books do not teach chiropractic manipulation. Rather they teach the laying on of hands in conjunction with command prayer – the Spirit’s power and energies do the spine adjustments and other creative miracles.[15] In a way, the Hunter’s discoveries and experiments are a culmination and practical development of Agnes Sanford’s understanding of the healing energies of God first discussed in The Healing Light (chapter 00).

It seems that part of the reason this method of healing is so successful is that in giving direct commands to the body, the energies of God are unobstructed by the weak faith of the supplicant. The faith of the prayer intercessor is the more important factor, and the increase in Planck’s constant through faith is given full reign. Seeing a leg extended an inch or two by commanding it in the name of Jesus, and the resultant healing of back ailments, is perhaps one of the most common, repeatable and practical demonstrations of Christian Faith-Idealism.

 

Healing Explosions:

 

Unlike the classical healing evangelists who individually prayed for hundreds of person at a healing line, a pattern that dates from Dr Cullis’ time in the 1880s, the Hunters stressed “teach, model and do.” The Hunters held what they called “healing explosions” where hundreds of persons who were trained in their command/prayer method would minister to audiences of thousands. These mass events were held at sports arenas or other large venues. There hundreds of healing teams were prayed over and commissioned into the healing ministry by the Hunters and then did the healing ministry on the thousands of supplicants who came.

The healing explosions were carefully planned. A city was prayerfully chosen and the Hunter organization contacted local pastors and churches to assist with the event. These churches would supply the volunteers to be trained in the Hunter method. The training was based on 15 hours of video instruction and the practice of the healing command moves developed by the Hunters. Additionally each volunteer had to read How to Heal the Sick and The Handbook for Healing.

Carolyn and I participated in one of these healing explosions that came to Atlanta in March of 1988. The venue was the Omni sports center. The place was packed. The church I associated with had trained a healing team of over twenty persons. This group and several hundred other volunteers were given final instructions by a Hunter staffer an hour before the public started to arrive.

The healing explosion began with talks by both Francis and Charles, who stressed the ability of all Christians to heal the sick. I noticed and chatted with a reporter from Creative Loafing, a very secular/Pagan local newspaper, as he was taking notes on the event. (The next edition of Creative Loafing contained a dreadfully distorted account of the healing explosion which recognized no healings – sadly typical of the secular press.)

The Hunters’ talks were followed by a dramatic skit showing the Devil trying to ruin a believer’s life – as in a medieval morality play. (I thought it was awful, but I’m a playwright and tend to be critical.) The crowd roared it approval – and the Creative Loafing reporter grimaced in disdain.

The Hunters then called out the healing teams to the floor of the arena, and invited all who were sick to come forward and receive healing prayer. Several thousand came. That night our healing team of four persons prayed for three supplicants. One of whom received complete healing from a back and neck problems, and another person received much improvement in an arthritic knee. The other person had a blood disease that we could not test for healing effectiveness. All of this was truly a blessing to experience. The two hundred odd healing ministers (most of them novices to the ministry) really did effective healing ministry. Those supplicants healed were invited up to the stage to witness to their cures.

These healing explosions have been repeated successfully in many countries, such as Brazil, Nicaragua, and South Africa. In the healing explosion in Bogotá, Colombia, over one hundred wheel chair patients left their wheel chairs and walked out in healing and soundness.

This is really a sea change from traditional mass healing services, where the sick are lined up in prayer lines to be ministered to by the anointed evangelist. To be fair, in my Christian life I have been blessed by these healing line type events. But in the Omni, our healing team did not have that type of special anointing – no one was slain in the Spirit or “exercised” nor felt a dramatic surge of healing energies. Yet effective healing was accomplished. This is because the command/prayers, combined with the quasi-chiropractic laying on of hands, are a powerful way of ministering God’s healing energies. The minister does not need a special anointing.

The Hunters are right about insisting that all Christian should lay hands on the sick. Their book, If Charles and Francis Can Do It, You Can Do It Too!, says it again and again. What they do not stress is that indeed there are persons with unusual gifts of healing and anointing, including themselves. Francis had, for instance, a special anointing to heal cancer – a difficult disease to tackle. Claiming any Christian can minister healing prayer as well as they can is a useful teaching exaggeration and encouragement, but an exaggeration none the less. Very few people have their level of anointing.

But I have found in my pastoral experience that when I teach the Hunter method all Christians do discover some ability to heal, and a few flower with extraordinary graces in ministry. Many of these persons would not have tried healing prayer without the encouragement and step-by step materials developed by the Hunters.

The Hunters continued to search out any new scraps of information that would be of help in the healing ministry. They had a panel of medical doctors and chiropractors who advised them and keep them posted on new medical discoveries. For instance, in recent years medical investigators have discovered that human cells give out faint electrical pulses, but that cancer cells give out significantly different and disharmonious frequencies.[16] The Hunters encouraged the following prayer over cancer victims:

“Devil, I bind you right now by the Spirit of God in Jesus’ name. You foul spirit of cancer, I command you to come out right now in the name of Jesus. …We speak a new immune system into you and we also speak a new blood system so that the cancer cannot spread any further. We command all of the electrical and chemical frequencies in every cell in your body to be in harmony and in balance and digest the bad cells in Jesus’ name.”[17]

 

The Hunters’ last healing explosion was held in the Houston Astrodome in October of 2004. They subsequently “retired” to run their school of ministry near their home in Kingswod, Texas, and hold occasional healing services locally. In my last telephone conversation with Francis, she said, to me, “Between us [Charles and herself] we are a hundred and eighty-four years old. And the Lord has commanded us not to travel anymore.”[18]

The Hunters will have to be recognized as having greatly expanded the Christian healing ministry among Renewalists, and brought the “disciples’ authority” to its rightful place as the legacy of every Christian. From the 1970s they labored through prayerful observation and experimentation to bring the healing ministry ever closer to the New Testament standard, where all who came to Christ for healing were cured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Stanley Howard Frodsham, Smith Wigglesworth: Apostle of faith, (Springfield: Gospel Publishing house, 1990), 59. Originally published in 1948.

[2] Francis went home to the Lord on July 14, 2009. In the several years that it took to complete this work, she was gracious enough to take several telephone interviews with the author. Charles joined his wife on June 21, 2010.

[3] A “Google” search gives their website and hits on where to buy their books, plus the usual fundamentalist/cessationist anti-charismatic blogs. A search in the Christian academic literature shows no hits whatever.

[4]Bill Shepson, “Still Happy after All these Years,” Charisma and Christian Life (August 200), 95.

[5] Bill Shepson, “Still Happy After all These Years,” Charisma and Christian Life (August, 2000), and E.S Caldwell, “It is the Hour to Believe?” Charisma & Christian Llife, (October, 1887). Reprints of the latter article are available from Hunter Minstires on request. Web site with contact numbers is: www.cfhunter.org.

[6]Agnes Sanford, The Healing light (St. Paul: Macalester Park, 1947), Genevieve Parkhurst, Healing and Wholeness are Yours (St. Paul: Macalester Park, 1957)..

[7]Genevieve Parkhurst, Glorious Victory Through Healing of Memories (St. Paul: Macalester Park, 1973).

[8] The story of her sickness and death is told in Charles Hunter’s, A Tribute to God (Kingswood: Hunter Ministries, 2008) Mrs. Parkhurst’s ministry to Jeanne is found on pp. 17-43.

[9]Francis Gardner Hunter, God is fabulous (The Story of an “Unsave Christian”) (New York: Family Library1973).

[10] Francis Hunter, My Love Affair With Charles (Glendale: Regal books, 1971), 4.

[11] How to Heal the Sick, 45-46.

[12] Charles and Francis Hunter, Handbook of Healing: Supplement to How to Heal the Sick (Kingwood, TX: Hunter Books, 1987), 114.

[13] Charles and Francis Hunter, How to Heal the Sick (Kingswood, Hunter Books, 1981).

[14] Dr Roy J. Le Roy, and Norma Jean Le Roy, The Supernatural Spine (Kingwood: Hunter Books, 1993).

[15] For example, see the chiropractic charts in the Hunter’s more recent book, If Charles and Francis Can Do It, You Can do it (Kingswood: Hunter Books, 1997), 44, 92-93

[16] On the body’s electrical mechanisms see, Robert O Becker, M.D., and Gary Selden, The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the foundation of life (New York; William Morrow, 1985). On the electromagnetic properties of cancer cells see the Internet article by Steve Haltiwanger, M.D. C.C.N., “The Electrical Properties of Cancer Cells,” at http://www.sanum-per-aquam.de/pdfs/spa-study-alkaline-14.pdf.

[17] From the Hunter’s website: http://www.cfhunter.org/Prayer_Cancer.htm

[18] In my last telephone conversation with Francis Hunter, in Oct. of 2008.

William DeArteaga

William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include, Quenching the Spirit (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He and his wife Carolyn continue in their healing, teaching and writing ministries. He is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations.

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