Hundreds flock to touch faith healers’ hands

Young, old believers fill church in search of spiritual remedy

PLAIN TWP. – The sunshine after the rain.

That’s what hundreds of folks in search of a healing — both physical and spiritual — were seeking Sunday when they motored to St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Plain Township.

After word spread that Dr. Issam Nemeh — a medical doctor, anesthesiologist and spiritualist from the Cleveland suburb of Rocky River — and his wife, Cathy, would be conducting a healing service, folks from near and far quietly and reverently filled the church.

That’s because Nemeh has a reputation for powerful prayer, one that his believers say results in healing.

Parents cradling babies and holding the hands of older children diagnosed with everything from cancer to autism were there in huge numbers — hopeful and tearful.

Adults of all ages — some in wheelchairs, others walking on their own accord and some with oxygen tanks — crowded the space.

The hushed procession around the massive altar began at 1:30 p.m. and was expected to stretch into the night.

If other healing services were any barometer, Nemeh expected to pray for and lay hands on upwards of 2,000 believers — Catholics and those from other denominations as well.

With soft piano, organ music and vocals in the background, the faithful made their way here, waiting their turn for the casually dressed man in black or his wife to touch them and whisper, “Come, Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ.”

As the spirit enveloped them, many dropped back like rag dolls onto blue mats that were scattered around the altar. Volunteer catchers stood nearby to break their falls.

Rooms were reserved for those with compromised immune issues.

Doris Yutzy of Stow was one of the early arrivals. She was there to be healed of cancer and diabetes.

Carole Lenczewski of Akron carried a photograph of her 83-year-old aunt, Mary Lenczewski, taken in happier times. Her aunt, who had open heart surgery July 24, now suffers from an infection of the heart valve.

“I take care of her,” Carole Lenczewski said in a plaintive tone. “I just want her to get better.”

Philip Keller — aka Trapper Jack on Cleveland radio station WDOK (102.1-FM) — not only counts himself among the “blessed” but now assists with announcements at Nemeh’s special healing Masses.

Nemeh’s blessing services are seen in some circles as the local version of the pilgrimage to Lourdes, France.

Keller, who is legally blind, said he first walked into Nemeh’s office seven years ago. “He said, `Your vision will be fully restored,’ ” Keller said.

“He didn’t say when,” a patient Keller added. “And he told me I would become the voice of this ministry long before there was a ministry. Of course, I looked at him like he had two heads.”

But witnessing Nemeh’s gift and what it has done for so many others, Keller said there was nothing else he could do but come on board.

The true beauty of what Nemeh and his wife are doing for believers like him, Keller said, “is that they ask for nothing. They’re just in the business of saving souls.

“This is not showbiz,” Keller continued as Nemeh made his way to a little girl with reddish hair who was dressed in pink cowboy boots. “It’s just peaceful, serene and very personal.”

Several people offered personal testimonials of being healed.

Wes Dobbins, 37, of Northfield, is to undergo back surgery today.

Dobbins, who had a positive encounter with Nemeh on Sept. 27 at St. Barnabas Catholic Church in Northfield, brought with him relatives from South Carolina who are dealing with health issues.

Dobbins described his own pain — back and migraine — as far less constant since the first meeting.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday November 13, 2006.
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