When customers enter Denis’ Country Kitchen, owner Denis Xenos often asks them how they’re doing.
A typical greeting by a business person, but if the customer says something like, “My back is hurting me,” Xenos will give an unexpected response:
“Good news! God wants to heal you — right now.”
Xenos then takes the customer outside to the back of his restaurant on West Lockeford Street, places his hand on the ailing body part and offers a prayer.
And in three or four minutes, the customer is usually no longer in pain, he says. Sometimes he says a second or third dose of healing is needed to complete the job.
He also maintains he has the power, through God, to cure people of simple aches and pains, not to mention major illnesses. Xenos said he has cured a couple dozen people of whatever ailed them.
Through the power God has given the human race, Xenos said that President John F. Kennedy’s life could have been saved in 1963, and he can increase gas mileage to help overcome the $3-per-gallon gas prices.
There are two requirements, Xenos said — you must believe in God and Jesus Christ. You must also believe that people have the same ability as Jesus to heal people.
“The believers don’t know they have the power to do any of this,” Xenos said. “Jesus said nothing is impossible for those who believe.”
Throughout American history, preachers and evangelists have claimed to heal the sick, but they have met with skepticism.
One such evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson, conducted revivals at Hotel Lodi during the 1920s. She reportedly drew 5,000 people to revivals at the Lodi Arch.
More recent faith healers include Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts an Helena Steiner-Hornsteyn.
Discovered ‘gift’ a year ago
Born in Canada, Xenos, 46, lived in San Jose some 20 years before moving to Lodi more than 16 years ago and owned his restaurant the same period of time. Despite being seemingly as devoted to Jesus Christ as any Christian alive, Xenos doesn’t attend any church. He grew up attending churches in a variety of denominations, but he said he prefers to relate to God on his own.
He said he only discovered his gift about a year ago through a Christian “brother,” Mike Brophy, a former Lodi resident who now lives in Southern California.
“God told Jesus to raise the dead, heal the sick and heal the blind, just like we’ve seen in the movies,” Xenos said. “As a believer in Christ, we have been anointed. We exercise the authority God gave us (believers).”
And if you don’t “believe?”
“Fear and doubt can return you to the problems you had before,” he said.
Xenos gets more animated and excited about faith healing the longer he talks about it. He admits that he talks rather loudly as he prays for someone. That’s why he takes people to the back of his restaurant — so he won’t disturb his customers.
Friends say he cured them
Lodi resident Ray Rigato said he got to know Xenos pretty well two or three years ago. One day after stopping in for a bite to eat, Xenos asked him how he was doing.
“Doing good except my back hurts,” Rigato said.
Xenos prayed for him, although Rigato said it took 10 minutes of prayer to relieve the pain.
Another Lodi resident, Mike Bova, said that Xenos helped with head, shoulder, leg and back injuries that Bova sustained last fall in a traffic accident.
Bova said he stopped at the restaurant for breakfast a couple of weeks after the accident.
“I need to give you prayer,” Xenos said, and they went to the back of the building for 20 minutes.
Bova’s head pain was gone in a week to 10 days. His back still tingles a little and his knees are no longer swollen. Doctors wanted to perform back surgery, but Bova maintains that’s no longer necessary, thanks to Xenos’ prayer.
Another customer said her back stopped hurting, but it was only for a week or so. Xenos said he could help if she returned to see him.
Another success story, according to Xenos, was a Jack Russell Terrier with tetanus. He couldn’t run because his legs were rigid.
“I prayed for him,” Xenos said. “He started getting better the next day, and he was completely healed in three weeks.”
God’s power to heal includes fatal injuries, emotional problems and even the economy, Xenos insists. A reporter gave him a scenario in each subject area. Here are his responses.
• The Kennedy assassination. After being shot in 1963, he was obviously incapable of “believing” anything since he was unconscious, so that duty would have fallen to Jacqueline Kennedy. If someone like Xenos was present and the first lady “believed,” John F. Kennedy would be alive today, Xenos said.
• A man whose wife had filed for divorce. Xenos couldn’t force the wife to rescind the divorce proceedings, but through prayer, he could help change the husband’s personality so the wife would want him back.
• $3-per-gallon for gasoline. He can’t reduce the price of gas, but through prayer, he can increase one’s gas mileage.
“I just blessed the gas in my car,” he said. “You just get into your car confidently, and you go!”
Frank Palmer, pastor at Woodbridge Missionary Baptist Church, has his doubts about anyone’s ability to heal people.
“I believe God can still do miraculous things, but I don’t believe He imbues certain individuals to miraculously heal people,” Palmer said in an e-mail.
“In the gospels, when Jesus empowered the 12 (Apostles) to go out and preach the gospel, He gave them power to heal sick, raise the dead and cast out demons. So I’m thinking if this man can heal people, he should be able to raise people from the dead and cast out demons.
The ability to heal people of their maladies cannot be verified, Palmer said.
“For instance, I have never seen an amputee have a limb restored,” Palmer added.
In Lodi, Loren Stacy, pastor of Church of God (Seventh Day), is somewhat skeptical as well.
“The miraculous gift to heal at will that God gave to some in the early days of the New Testament church appears to have already become absent during the life of the Apostle Paul,” Stacy said.
“God does heal in response to the faith and requests of His people, but always and only according to His perfect knowledge and purposes. Sometimes God’s will is that we endure through our illnesses and other physical problems.”
Xenos lives in Lodi with his wife, Donna. He has three children from a previous marriage, Mike Brandon, 25, of Sacramento, Daniel Brandon, 20, of Plymouth, and Daniel Brandon, 12, also from Plymouth.
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