In his book "Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?" religion writer Philip Yancey reports that in Nepal, where Christianity didn't take hold until 1950, there are now more than half a million adherents. Nepalese church leaders estimate that 80 percent of the converts have embraced Christianity as the result of physical healing, often attributed to prayer. They say the European and American doctors who work there as missionaries sometimes admit they have no scientific explanation for some of the amazing recoveries they have seen. Yancey also cites reports of a similar pattern of "apparent miracles" in China.
Wonderful, yes – but not miraculous. Healing is the natural outcome of prayer and faith in God. More than 125 years ago, Mary Baker Eddy discovered a system of healing that proves God is scientifically accessible to all. She explained that her revelation had come through "a spiritual sense of the Scriptures" and through her proof that "the so-called miracles of Jesus did not specially belong to a dispensation now ended," but "illustrated an ever-operative divine Principle" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 123).
Continuing evidence of the way an understanding of the Scriptures changes lives, bringing hope to millions of humble truth-seekers, comes in reports of burgeoning attendance in faith communities around the world, including Christian Science churches, like the one in Suna Migori, Kenya, which has more than doubled its membership in two years. In the Zionist Christian Church at Clermont, near Durban, South Africa, the hunger for spiritual growth has been so great that 17 hours of church services are now provided every weekend, with congregations spilling out across the grounds of the church. People are discovering that more than anything it's an understanding of the Bible's healing works that humanity craves as never before.
It appears people everywhere are appreciating more and more that spiritual vitality and healing are more important than the size of the congregation, the amounts of money in the coffers, the choice of music, or the color of the paint on the walls. At the same time, there is extraordinary exhilaration in growing with other believers into a spiritually informed awareness of our real nature as God's very reflection.
The early Christian church described in the New Testament provides an inspiring example of committed seekers striving to better understand their relationship to God and to humanity. They joined together in order to support, encourage, and pray for one another, to help bear each other's burdens and foster spiritual development. Of course, church members – then, and now – don't come together just because they're likeminded. Nor are they always going to agree about everything. Think, for example, of the way the Apostle Paul addressed the fractious congregations in Corinth, Rome, Ephesus, and Galatia. He didn't mince words in describing how church members could live to bring about the unity God required, kindling an awareness of the church's timeless role as a vital institution centered on healing. Paul made it clear what an awesome privilege it was to be called God's very own. And he spelled out the priorities: "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever" (Eph. 3:20, New Revised Standard Version).
The really good news is that churches of all sizes are harnessing "the power at work within them" to accomplish – abundantly – far more than they even dreamed of. Christianly scientific healing is taking place today – not just in Africa and Asia, but right in our midst. Spiritual development flourishes everywhere, and we are all privileged to be a part of it.
Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel.