On the weekend of September 15, 2012 I accompanied my friend Lyle on a trip to Westlake, Ohio.  Lyle desired to be prayed over by a Doctor who has become known to call upon the Holy Spirit, requesting and seemingly obtaining healings in the name of Jesus.  My account of our time in Ohio is my account. This writing specifically does not speak for Lyle nor does it speak for Joy Squared.  Lyle and I could have collectively chosen safety, going underground with this upon our return.  Instead, we believe this story needs to repeated aloud and in particular needs to be repeated aloud in Orange County, California. I have come to understand the touchy nature of this subject in Christian circles, so I will leave it to the reader to apply discernment and grace to what ever thoughts and concerns these words invoke.  I will write and post this blog in three parts.  For no compelling reason other than I desire the four or five folks who actually read these to in fact read this.  I fear if I write it all out at one time that it will be too long and the choice to skip it all together will be made.  I am particularly interested in your thoughts concerning this and the next few “installments.”                 

[I]f you schedule a healing service they will come.  Come they did, both Jew and Greek, speaking both figuratively and literally, they came.   Visibly broken they came, seemingly whole they came.  They came in wheel chairs and pin striped suits.  Male and female, young and old, they came.  They came to see a Doctor about a healing.

These current words I write on a flight between Cleveland and Houston bound eventually for John Wayne airport.  I write sitting next to my friend Lyle as we return from our pilgrimage of sorts, a pilgrimage of prayer. Prayer said over us and for us by a Dr. Issam Nemeh in a nondescript ballroom of the Holiday Inn in Westlake Ohio.

A number of months previous Lyle had informed us of some medical issues which had arisen in him and were concerning him.  I may be using an incorrect descriptor as my assumption is and was that his news was very frightening.  He spoke of some type of “blood cancer” and a blockage of the blood flow on its return to his heart.   My counsel to Lyle at the time was very weak as words of comfort and or words of solution were few.  While I felt great compassion for my friend, I also felt myself beginning the internal process of compartmentalizing the issue.   Oh for sure I would be praying for my friend and I would be standing by to do what I could.  On the emotional side though, I have developed the ability to soften the news.  My mind is sometimes able to create my own easier softer way.  I was successful in telling myself that Lyle was a little sick, that we would collectively pray for him and soon he would be all better.   A few weeks passed and my compartment walls were torn down by the reality of test results, confirming that Lyle was indeed ill and was ill in an immediate and life threatening way.

When Lyle asked me to accompany him to Ohio to see a “faith healer”, I knew my role.  My role was left unspoken but I knew it all the same.  Lyle and I have known each other, not a lifetime, but rather the relationship could be measured in months.  It has been a beautiful thing to come to know Lyle as he clearly has a heart for others as evidenced in his faithful service through Joy Squared at Mary’s Kitchen.  So our friendship, while growing, was one based on mutual respect of what each of us was trying to do in the service of others.  While logic would have it that Lyle would ask his wife to accompany him, or choose a lifelong friend, he chose me to go to Ohio.   Yes, I understood my role.   I was to be the somewhat neutral observer of what was occurring, to be Lyle’s eyes and ears.  I was to apply my gift of cynicism.  I would rather it be referred to as discernment but it is what it is.  I was to be the guy who calmly leaned over to Lyle and called bullshit if in fact bullshit needed to be called.  I understood my role and was more than willing to do the job.  I counted it an honor to be the one on point, looking out for a friend who may or may not be too emotionally involved to see the forest for the trees so to speak.      

So off we went to Ohio, Lyle and his newly deputized assistant. .  The Frick and Frack, the Mutt and Jeff maybe even the Laurel and Hardy of Yorba Linda.  One designated for prayer and one designated for righteousness.   I will not trouble you with too many of the details of the weekend.  I will tell you that it was easy.  Easy in the sense that it was smooth and pleasant, it was easy.  There was a general spirit of grace and kindness in almost everyone we came in contact.  (The hidden voice of the flight attendant on the flight from Orange County to Cleveland, not so much).  We met kind folks at the counter at Wendy’s.  The desk clerk at the Holliday Inn was particularly friendly and helpful.   The waiter at the Italian restaurant engaged in deeper than normal conversation and took a tease real well.   A young man working the valet post caught our eye as he studied his surgical technician textbook , allowing us to see  a large tattoo on his inner forearm.  The tattoo stated simply “I’ll Stand 1 Corinthians 16:13”.    A lively and interesting conversation about his studies and Jesus resulted.  I believe though it was on our first evening we really came to understand that there may be something special about this particular weekend.  I believe this evening we both realized that we were to pay attention, take in and appreciate what was going to play out over the couple days we spent in Ohio.  We headed out Saturday evening, at the suggestion of the Holiday Inn front desk clerk, to Hyde Park Steak House.  When I say Saturday evening, I actually mean Saturday night.  Three hours ahead of California time had us hungry at 9:00 pm local time.  The restaurant was still fairly lively but with a stated closing time of 10:00 pm, we knew we were cutting it close.  We were seated and a young woman by the name of Amanda was to serve us.  She seemed neither rushed in the process nor anxious to have us eat and be on our way.  She was, well, kind.   Each time she came to the table she seemed to linger a bit longer.  Each time she stepped away Lyle and I would formulate the next series of questions, which she would then answer with obvious forthrightness and honesty.  While she was away we understood and discussed aloud that we were in the middle of something that was not of the ordinary.

This young woman had what Lyle and I later characterized as a “glow.”  Something about her was recognizable as goodness.   The restaurant cleared but for Lyle and I and still she kept coming back, standing by our table seemingly willing to engage in the conversation.  Towards the end of the night, the question was asked of her, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  She seemed taken a bit off guard by the question but responded that she wanted to be a nurse.   We thought enough of Amanda by this time that we encouraged her to actually pursue something she was passionate about.  We asked her, “Are you passionate about nursing Amanda?”  She paused, looked at Lyle, looked at me and just fell apart.  I am talking she fell apart.  As she composed herself she told us of her uncle who was made quadriplegic after a tragic motorcycle accident.  How she had been given the honor of caring for him.  Spending time with him yes, but also bathing him, brushing his teeth, feeding him, dressing him.  She spoke of this “honor” with such emotion and purpose.  I imagine what I am trying to say is this;  Lyle and I recognized that yes we were to pay attention to what would happen this weekend.  We were to pay attention and we were to honor the moments that were unfolding in front of us and were soon to follow.