Although reared within a conservative Pentecostal ethos, Bill Johnson possessed an insatiable hunger for the presence of God. Because of this, he journeyed to the controversial renewal meetings in Toronto in the mid-1990s.

In the midst of raucous displays, Johnson earnestly sought the Lord. He “went up for prayer every time it was offered.”[1] Although he “didn’t have anything dramatic happen,”[2] Johnson understood that he had been impacted.

Arriving back in Northern California, the fervor “started immediately on a Sunday night.”[3] After opening the altars, Johnson “invited the Spirit of God to come.”[4] As an unmistakable display of glory came upon one young woman, Bill declared, “We’ve got it. It’s now unstoppable.”[5] Her encounter became the “crack in the dike and . . . from that point on, it exploded!”[6]

As the meetings erupted, a myriad of healing testimonies were being recounted. There were reports of the deaf hearing and the invalids regaining strength. In one service, “two people were healed of broken necks during worship. Another Sunday morning, a woman had a tumor disappear that doctors couldn’t even remove with surgery.”[7]

On one Sunday evening, they encountered a terminally ill man dancing up and down in the middle of the room. He was holding up his trousers with his hands “because the four large tumors that had held his pants up before were gone.”[8]

Later a missionary from Sudan with multiple sclerosis, myalgic encephalomyelitis and fibromyalgia journeyed to Redding. Johnson and the congregation prayed, “and within fifteen minutes she was completely set free.”[9] Previously it would have been difficult for her to walk fifteen feet. However, “she could now sprint around the room. She was absolutely, absolutely healed.”[10]

In another astounding account, a woman whose life depended on a machine that pumped fluids into her heart came up to Johnson at the end of a service. She claimed that she could only survive four minutes without the daily intake of this medication. Her fluids had to be changed every morning at 7:00, or she could not survive. She received prayer and fell to the ground, feeling a “fire” in her chest. Johnson attests

She left to drive home, which was a couple hours away. She showed up the next night at our meeting with half her church. She testified, “When I got up this morning, I went to change the bag of medication, and the Lord said, ‘You don’t need it anymore.’ So I removed it.” When you’ve got four minutes to find out whether you’ve heard from God or not, you know that’s faith! And the Lord healed her.[11]

Sixty-year-old Cheryl Haase journeyed to Bethel after having several surgeries to correct a severe spinal injury. The doctors reportedly labeled her “the worse pain case in the country.”[12] Julia Loren reports, “Doctors could do nothing for her but insert a pump into her stomach that would administer pain medication directly to her spine and neck immobilized by two rods. Haase eventually discovered that she was dying. Her body could no longer tolerate the pain or the medication.”[13]

Haase received prayer in Redding and was powerfully healed. Reflecting on what transpired, she declared, “This time I came into the church in a wheelchair, and I came out of it walking. I felt the heat go down my spine and I walked the whole room.”[14]

Sometimes Johnson and his team would operate in unconventional ways. This is evidenced, in part, in an encounter with a woman with severe rheumatoid arthritis. As she came up to receive ministry, Johnson felt that it would hinder the work of God if he overtly prayed and laid hands on her. He states.

“I asked her to close her eyes so that the other ministry going on around the room would not distract her. She did as I requested. Then I sensed a heat on the back of my neck, obvious but subtle. It felt like hot oil slowly flowing downward, so I told her the anointing was flowing down her neck. She said she felt it. When it reached the base, I told her the neck should be healed by now. She moved it about in ways that would have caused pain before, only to find that it was, in fact, healed . . . The hot oil continued to flow down her shoulders with the same outcome. From there it moved down the spine to the tailbone. Each time I would describe what God was touching. And each time she acknowledged that she felt the same thing. She would move about, testing the area that God had been touching, each time finding that God had completely healed that area. We followed this pattern until the healing reached her toes, where we were able to give thanks for a complete and total healing. This happened without anyone even praying for her.”[15]

One of the more electrifying accounts at Bethel was the healing of twelve-year-old Adrian Nygård from Norway. He had a severe immune deficiency that was threatening to take his life. His family decided to take him to Redding, California. LeClaire reports, “He had been fed intravenously for ten years and confined to a wheelchair because his muscles were deteriorating. His parents did not know if he would live through the long journey, but they came believing.”[16]

After receiving concentrated prayer from the designated ministry teams at Bethel, Adrian’s health began to make rapid improvement. He began doing things he had never done before. Johnson states, “They went to a restaurant afterward and gave him a piece of bread to smell because he enjoyed that . . . and he ate it. There was a moment of terror because he couldn’t digest food and his temperature would rise to 106 degrees. He was dramatically healed.”[17]

Adrian’s primary care physician, who had assisted him for over 11 years, was astounded with the changes.

In subsequent years, thousands of healing reports were published and the influence of Johnson’s ministry grew. Word spread about what God was doing. Ultimately, missionary-evangelist, Randy Clark, surmised, “In North America, I think no one is having a greater impact on the church worldwide than Bill Johnson.”[18]

This article was adapted from my work Regeneration: A Complete History of Healing in the Christian Church. Find out more here.

[1]. Bill Johnson quoted in Julia Loren, “California Fire: Heaven Has Invaded Earth in Redding, California, Where a Sense of Revival Has Been Stirring Bethel Assembly for Ten years,” Charisma (March 2005), 47.
[2]. Ibid.
[3]. Ibid., 33.
[4]. Ibid.
[5]. Ibid.
[6]. Ibid.
[7]. Jennifer LeClaire, ‘Born for Revival,” Charisma 42:1 (August 2016), 22.
[8]. Bill Johnson, Anointed to Heal: True Stories and Practical Insight for Praying for the Sick (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Chosen, 2016), 74.
[9]. Ibid., 72.
[10]. Ibid.
[11]. Ibid., 36–37.
[12]. Julia Loren, “California Fire: Heaven Has Invaded Earth in Redding, California, Where a Sense of Revival Has Been Stirring Bethel Assembly for Ten Years,” Charisma (March 2005), 47.
[13]. Julia Loren, “California Fire: Heaven Has Invaded Earth in Redding, California, Where a Sense of Revival Has Been Stirring Bethel Assembly for Ten Years,” Charisma (March 2005), 47.
[14]. Cheryl Haase quoted in Julia Loren, “California Fire: Heaven Has Invaded Earth in Redding, California, Where a Sense of Revival Has Been Stirring Bethel Assembly for Ten years,” Charisma (March 2005), 47.
[15]. Bill Johnson, The Essential Guide to Healing (Bloomington, Minnesota: Baker Publishing, 2011), 130–132.
[16]. Jennifer LeClaire, “Born for Revival,” Charisma 42:1 (August 2016), 22.
[17]. Bill Johnson quoted in Jennifer LeClaire, “Born for Revival,” Charisma 42:1 (August 2016), 22.
[18]. Randy Clark, “God’s Arsonists,” Charisma (March 2012), 37.

  • Regeneration: A Complete History of Healing in the Christian Church

    J.D. King was one of the supporting leaders of the Smithton Outpouring in the late 1990s. He has also served as an itinerate speaker, pastor, and author. In addition to praying for thousands of sick people, he has spent nearly twenty years studying the background and theological foundations of healing. The culmination of his work is a three-volume book series called: Regeneration: The Complete History of Healing in the Christian Church.

    This collection includes the remarkable stories of Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake, Maria Woodworth-Etter, Oral Roberts, and other lesser known figures.

    King begins with the early church fathers and the medieval period and brings the interlocking narrative up to the present. He not only documents inexplicable spiritual encounters but also many of the underlying ideas and practices.

    No other published work has compiled as many historical records and has intersected so many divergent accounts. He believes that Regeneration could spark a resurgence of healing in multiple Christian traditions.

    To read the first 100-pages of this book series—for free—click here

    What your book is about?

    Regeneration is about the forgotten stories and healing experiences of monks, reformers, tent evangelists, and others. What if I told you that the historical record confirms that healing has strongly shaped the Christian experience? Perhaps, as many as 90% of the conversions are, directly or indirectly, rooted in these kinds of encounters. Healing is not the outworking of the gospel. It is the gospel. What we’re talking about, in this detailed book series, is the work of regeneration.

    What inspired the book?

    Going to old-fashioned tent revivals when I was a kid ignited a sense of wonder. As I got older, I wanted to recapture what I felt when I witnessed wonderful breakthroughs under the canvas tabernacle. When my pastor opened a healing home in Kansas City, I knew that I needed to explore the background of healing in the American religious experience.

    What’s different about this book?

    This is an audacious book. When I told a colleague about all of the eras I was trying to cover, he told me the time involved wouldn’t be worth it. With over 10,000 research-hours and over 2,000 volumes examined, I’ve produced volumes that include the remarkable stories that people say they want to read. There are meticulously documented accounts of John G. Lake, Smith Wigglesworth, and Maria Woodworth-Etter. One scholar said, “This work is destined to be the standard work on healing for the next ten years.

    Find out more by clicking here.


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