Monday, May 19, 2014
“Are any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” — James 5:14
I wrote yesterday about anointing a sick baby and making sure it got to the hospital. I never knew what happened to that child, but when I first became a pastor, I knew that anointing was one of the oldest traditions in the church and not reserved for the priests, ministers, and clergy, but for the laity and the pastors—the people of the church. I have carried anointing oil with me for almost thirty years now even when I was riding my motorcycle. I held healing and anointing services in the churches I served. I was ridiculed and resented by many of my fellow clergy and was even called the “mad anointer” by a District Superintendent (my boss). It didn’t deter me however, since I put more value in the words of the Bible than in those who were more interested in politics than in healing. I have anointed many who were dying and even held two of them while they slipped from this world to a much brighter one. I have also anointed babies who had been written off by the doctors. Of those, five that I know of are still alive and doing quite well. One is in graduate school, and one is a beautiful cellist in high school. I hear nothing from them and don’t even know if they know of my small part in their lives. One parent has even asked that I have no contact with the girl or any member of the family, and of course I honor that request. I think that it is better that way because I didn’t heal them. I was just like a hose, the water came from elsewhere, I just directed its power and asked for its healing use. I have anointed here as well. I anointed Charlini’s dying mother just hours before she died. I was also called (in fact in all the cases of infants, a parent or grandparent called and asked for my help). In this case it was a nurse at an orphanage in Bweri about an hour north of here. They only keep babies and the operator was out of the country and this little baby boy (from Bunda as it turns out) was dying. I immediately drove to Bweri and held this very sick little boy, anointed him and prayed for him. His name was Magesa which means a child from whom many blessings will come. The picture at the right is Magesa about a year ago. He thrived and has become an excellent student living with an extended family here in Bunda. My tribal name “Magesa” was the result of that anointing and it is more well known here and even in Mwanza and Arusha than any of my other names. I wear it proudly, knowing that it serves as a constant reminder that James 5:14 is one of those verses that needs to be taken seriously, yet is so seldom a part of the life of a church. Every time I visit one of our churches here, anywhere from five to thirty people line up to be anointed and for me to lay hands on them and pray. This does not come from me, it comes from God and it is the Glory of God that so many still crave it. The Magesa in the picture has no knowledge of my brief contact with him, and so it should be. I was the messenger, not the message.