The author's unusual spiritual journey transformed him from a Royal Marine Commando, trained to kill or be killed, to the director of the healing ministries of Christ the King Spiritual Life Center, where he now teaches people to heal and be healed.
This long-awaited sequel to Hand to Hand: From Combat to Healing, Mumford's experience of healing in the trenches, offers vivid snapshots of God at work in the world. These true tales from the author's healing ministry and prayers gives the reader insight into the little-known world of modern miracles.
Inspiring to Christians and non-Christians alike, these accessible stories challenge us to explore the depths of our faith. They will encourage healers in their ministry of prayer and those who are ill to seek physical and spiritual healing for themselves.
|Publisher:||Church Publishing, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||5.63(w) x 8.44(h) x 0.39(d)|
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The Forgotten Touch
More Stories of Healing
By NIGEL W. D. MUMFORD
Church Publishing IncorporatedCopyright © 2007 Nigel W. D. Mumford
All rights reserved.
Witness to the Resurrection
Embracing a Ministry of Healing
Jesus said to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25–26)
Do you believe this? I do. Like those first disciples, I have been a witness to the resurrection: the resurrection of the forgotten touch of the healer, Christ. I am a former Royal Marine Commando drill instructor. I am a man who has spent a full year in combat, has been shot at three times and blown up at bomb sites five times. I have drowned, suffered shell shock, and struggled mightily with my faith. But I am also a man who has been transformed and indeed resurrected from the pit of discouragement and depression. Resurrection comes in many forms: the resurrection of hope that God is truly listening, the resurrection of knowing that prayer is truly answered in the form of healing in all areas of our life. I am privileged to be a witness to this resurrection of the forgotten touch in my life and in the lives of others.
My call to the healing ministry came shortly after my sister, Julie Sheldon, formerly a dancer with the London Royal Ballet, was healed from a neurological disease called dystonia. Dystonia causes full body convulsions, and Julie was not expected to live long: the doctors feared she would break her own neck during a particularly severe attack. Her dancing career was destroyed by the disease, but after she was completely and miraculously healed of that devastating condition she encouraged many others by telling the story of her healing in her book Dancer Off Her Feet. In witnessing her healing by prayer, my life was changed. Totally changed. Absolutely transformed. Since that healing I have dedicated my life to the healing ministry.
There are so many facets of the human being that need to be healed. Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and even generational issues can be handed down through the family tree, both good and bad. I believe it is helpful in trying to understand who we are in looking at one's life story and then looking at God and combining the two. In this way we can all see the healing touch of Christ in our lives, and know that we are indeed witnesses to the resurrection.
* * *
To look back on my life and see the hand of God at work is truly amazing. Life has led me from being a drill instructor in Her Majesty's Royal Marine Commandos to becoming an ordained minister with a passion for the ministry of healing. The Roman Catholic priest Henri Nouwen wrote about the pastor as a "wounded healer," and surely I qualify for that position! As I look back on my life I see many dark nights of my soul, as well as the shining grace of Christ the healer. I thank God for his healing presence in my life.
At the age of seven Winston Churchill was told by his boarding school teacher, "You are useless and will amount to nothing." He was humiliated in front of his class. At the age of seven, at Plymouth College prep school, I had the same experience. I still remember it as if it just happened; I can feel the teacher's frustration coming at me in anger as he bellowed, "Mumford, you're useless, and you will amount to nothing." I felt that I had a tattoo on my arm that proclaimed: Dunce. A very deep wound pierced my heart right then. Children are so malleable and can be hurt so easily. The humiliation of that day has built up into layer upon layer of scar tissue in my life. Yet just as Churchill was released of that curse as he saved a nation at war, so I have been healed through the ministry of introducing people to the gospel of healing, one at a time. Much of the ministry I witness is in healing such wounds of the past in inner healing or the healing of memories. Christ heals even the scar tissue of life.
The scars of my experience of combat are both physical and emotional. I remember the gaping wound above my left eye that poured so much blood I could not see, the bucket of human excrement that was poured over my head, the three bullets that narrowly missed my head and groin. I can still hear the bombs that deafened me and in one case threw me violently backward into a door, where I crumpled to the ground, counting my fingers and checking for blood in my ears. My mind was tormented with shell shock after four of my recruits were killed in combat.
The wound of divorce is also part of my life story, when seventeen years of marriage ended rather abruptly and, from my perspective, out of the blue. Those who have gone through the pain of ripping one's heart apart know that divorce is a living hell for several months or indeed for some years. But even in the midst of such devastation God was gently and quietly present, as people who had been divorced came out of the woodwork and stood by me. They understood, and their prayers helped me through the very painful transition. For several years I was single. Judith MacNutt prayerfully told me, "Nigel, you are ready but the woman God has for you is not. Have patience and wait on the Lord; she will be revealed." Judith was right on the mark. I waited. The woman I was going to marry was not ready. She was going through a divorce herself?
In November 1996 the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut installed me as the director of the Oratory of the Little Way on a dark and stormy night when four hundred people came through the rain. As the head usher (who, I might add, did not want to be there) swished up and down the aisle seating people, she caught my eye. After a while (five months, as Lynn likes to remind me!), I got up the courage to ask her out for a cup of coffee. She said yes—and the rest is history. As we learned after the wedding, my mother, who did not come to the installation, picked out Lynn in the video and said to my father, "That's the girl for my son." God is so good. I even have two adult step-children, Matthew and Megan, who have taught me so much.
Four years after we were married, I took Lynn to the Plymouth area of Devon, England, where I was brought up. It was so healing to visit the places of my childhood—including my old boarding school, where I went at seven years old and was so badly bullied. The building was for sale and no one was there. We walked around and I reminisced. We visited a couple of places where I had been deeply hurt, and we prayed.
I have been listening and praying for people since 1990, but I still get blindsided at the depth of human cruelty. After the horrors of 9/11, I was thrown into the deep end as I tried to help the people who had suffered so much. Many people who came to me had been at the World Trade Center that day, while many others were therapists who came for prayer suffering from compassion fatigue. All were seeking healing in so many ways, with most suffering in some way from post-traumatic stress disorder. My mother wisely said, "Nigel, God has recycled you." As a veteran of combat I have witnessed our inhumanity and cruelty to others, and now I have the privilege of witnessing God's healing touch.
The millstone hung around my neck after 9/11 nearly succeeded in dragging me under. Now I can see that all those dark nights of the soul were for a reason—basic training for life, living, and healing. Basic training in listening to others who have suffered. I thank God daily for his love for us and his gift of healing. There is hope and love and the light in his healing grace, of this I have no doubt whatsoever. The power of the Holy Spirit falls like a waterfall to help and heal people in need. What a privilege it is to hear the history of a soul and then observe God lifting the pain. What a joy it is to actually see someone change. What a gift it is to watch the smile on someone's face who has known God's healing grace follow the floods of tears and anguish.
The writing and publication of my first book, Hand to Hand: From Combat to Healing, was an extraordinary experience. The book took three years to write on my one day off each week, with much help from a friend. We spent six months editing the manuscript and then sent it to four publishers in the United Kingdom and four publishers in the United States. All the publishers in the UK wrote back and said that the book should be published in the USA. All the publishers in the USA said the book should be published in the UK. I considered going to Greenland!
I do not "do" rejection well, and at one point in frustration I physically lifted the manuscript into the air and offered it to God. "God," I shouted, "this is your book. If you want it published, you do it." In desperate perseverance I gave up and just handed it over to God. When we remember to hand it all over to God, when we can come to a place of complete trust with God, that is when things happen and prayers are answered. That is the fulcrum point. I was deeply worried and stressed until that point when I raised up the manuscript and gave it over to God. Then I let it go. Several weeks later, when I was walking out of church after the service, a man at the end of the very pew I had been sitting in approached me. "Nigel, you know my name but you do not know what I do," Frank Hemlin said. "That's true," I replied. "What do you do?" He responded, "I am the publisher for Church Publishing. Would you write a book on healing for the church?"
Time stopped. My jaw dropped as I looked at Frank in utter astonishment. In a quiet voice I replied, "I already have written a book on healing." A couple of weeks after I sent the manuscript to Frank, I got a letter saying that Church Publishing would publish the book. I am still in awe as to how this all came about. We sent manuscripts all over the UK and USA, but the answer was sitting right next to me. It was a miracle.
The other miracle is that through the publishing of my first book I was able to forgive the teacher who had put me down so long ago. On my birthday my wife handed me a present: a copy of Hand to Hand, hot off the press. I wept. "Mumford, you will amount to nothing" rattled in my mind. But then I was able to hear myself say, "How wrong you were, Mr. Teacher. I am not a failure. I am deeply loved and redeemed by God." Thank you, Jesus, for healing me.
* * *
After serving eight years at the Oratory of the Little Way in Gaylordsville, Connecticut, as a full-time lay minister of healing, I knew it was time to move, time to grow. One Tuesday afternoon after a healing service I had four phone calls out of the blue with offers of positions at healing centers or congregations in Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. I was thrown into a tailspin. How could four opportunities suddenly arrive in the same afternoon? What are you up to, God? My wife and I began praying for discernment. I distinctly remember one person who prayed over us at that time and spoke words that changed our lives, though he was not aware that we were praying for discernment. "Nigel," he prayed, "I see you as a pot-bound plant." He was right on target. The time at the Oratory had been a most blessed time, but one afternoon God clearly said it was time to be repotted.
Through much prayerful tension and after visiting a couple of possible ministries it became clear to us where God was leading. The process of discernment can be traumatic, and it was a huge relief when the decision was made. As we crossed the border from Connecticut to New York in our car full of belongings, following the moving van, I remembered the words of Julian of Norwich, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." I also heard words that were firmly planted in my soul: "Try less and trust more." It seemed God was saying, "I am transplanting you from a small pot to a bigger pot, and you have to rely on me."
To try less and trust in God more is the only way one can go in the healing ministry. Perhaps I had to prove myself and be redeemed from the classroom at seven to become a drill instructor. Once again in the healing ministry God has redeemed me and put me on a new path. Perhaps I am a late bloomer, or perhaps his healing grace has been working in so many ways within my life without my even knowing it. The publicity this ministry has received had been quite amazing, but I find that now I don't need to prove anything. I only need to be an example of the love of Christ the healer.
We arrived at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center on July 5, 2004. At that point it was only a building site, but we held our healing services at the Convent of St. Mary's on site until the healing chapel was completed. Hundreds of people have helped me in this healing ministry as I try to understand what concerns are plaguing the individuals who come to us for prayer and healing. After about a month at Christ the King I sat at my desk in a fog, overwhelmed with prayer requests. I was not sure where my boundaries were; I did not know the end of the field. I called my bishop for help. The bishop responded, "Nigel, I trust you, I trust the Holy Spirit. Get on with it." A few life-changing words, spoken to empower. The fog cleared, and I could see the boundaries more clearly. It is amazing how a couple of words can change a life.
The culmination of a lot of mentoring in the healing ministry came for me on December 17, 2005, at my ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. The chapel was full and there was such an outpouring of love. After the service Bishop Dan commented that this was the first charismatic ordination he had attended! My friend Russ Parker popped over for the day from England to preach. During the ordination service the ordinand lies on the floor prostrate while prayers asking for the presence of the Holy Spirit are sung. I had asked many clergy what spiritual revelation came upon them as they lay on the floor face down. One friend of mine commented that his revelation was: "I will never have another Sunday off for the rest of my life." Not what I had expected! I did think of his amusing comment as I was kneeling down, but as I lay on the floor I saw a slide show of my life. It was not like what I had seen in Malta while I was under the waves drowning; it was a different kind of near-death experience. It was the death of the old self and the birth of the new. My ordination was another moment of experiencing God's healing touch, just as through my ministry of praying with others for healing I have also been privileged to be a witness to this resurrection in the lives of many other people.
The Forgotten Touch
Jesus' Healing Ministry
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, the epileptics and the paralytics, and he healed them. (Matthew 4:23–24)
A story is told that Thomas Aquinas called upon Pope nnocent II once when the latter was counting a large sum of money. "You see, Thomas," said the pope, "the church can no longer say 'Silver and gold have I none.'"
"True, holy father," said Thomas, "and neither can she now say, 'Arise and walk.'"
There seems to be some truth to Thomas's reply: historically Christ's ministry of healing has struggled, seeing periods of revival and then apparently dying out. But I believe that things are changing. In recent decades we have seen a gentle and sustained revival, both among individuals and from within the body of the church. This renewal of an often shunned way of helping people is blooming in upstate New York and within other communities in the United States, Great Britain, and Canada. In these places faith has been uplifted and people have returned to heartfelt prayers for healing.
My dear friend Dr. Francis MacNutt gives a wonderful history of the strange relationship between the church and individuals who are called to a ministry of healing in his book The Healing Reawakening (formerly titled The Nearly Perfect Crime: How the Church Almost Killed the Ministry of Healing). We all know the saying "Don't kill the messenger," though the messenger whom God sent to help us all was killed two thousand years ago. History has a propensity to repeat itself, and I have witnessed far too many people shun the message of hope. We are just as threatened by this ministry as were the people who encountered Jesus the healer two thousand years ago. Threatened by a loving ministry of hope and caring—and, I might add, the fruit of answered prayer.
Excerpted from The Forgotten Touch by NIGEL W. D. MUMFORD. Copyright © 2007 by Nigel W. D. Mumford. Excerpted by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Foreword by Russ Parker.................... xi
PART ONE GOD'S HEALING GRACE....................
1. Witness to the Resurrection Embracing a Ministry of Healing............ 3
2. The Forgotten Touch Jesus' Healing Ministry.................... 13
3. Out on a Limb Moving Out of Our Comfort Zone.................... 21
4. Something Always Happens When We Pray Stories of Healing............... 29
5. The Great Physician Healing Through Medicine.................... 43
6. Healing the Whole Person The Healing of Memories.................... 51
7. Fresh from Heaven Praying with Children.................... 65
8. When Healing Doesn't Happen Blocks to God's Healing Grace.............. 75
PART TWO SHARING IN THE MINISTRY OF HEALING....................
9. Listen, Love, and Pray Healing Ministry Basics.................... 91
10. No Hands But Our Hands Caring for the Caregiver.................... 103
11. The Church at Prayer Planting a Healing Ministry in the Parish........ 111
12. Ask, Seek, Knock Introducing the Healing Service.................... 121