I do not cure anybody. God heals, and in his infinite goodness permits the Entities to heal and console my brothers. I am merely an instrument in God's divine hands"
João Texeira de Faria - John of God

Courtesy of Susan Casey Millions of people are flocking to Abadiania, a remote town in Brazil, in search of a miracle. They come with every kind of ailment you can imagine—cancer, arthritis, depression—all to see one man: John of God.

Some believe John of God, a simple farmer with no medical degree and little education, is a medium who channels the spirits of more than 30 dead doctors and saints to bring physical and spiritual healing. Working out of a place called the Casa, a spiritual center open to all faiths, he performs surgeries seemingly without anesthesia or sterilization. These surgeries mostly take the form of incisions, eye scrapings and nasal probes. Many who have experienced these procedures claim they feel little to no pain, and reports of infections are hard to find.

However, the majority of the healings don't involve physical contact. The Casa is also famous for its "invisible surgeries," where it's believed that the spirits are the ones doing the work. Some have even reported finding incisions on their bodies after these invisible surgeries.

People around the world have credited John of God, and the spirits that they believe work through him, with miraculous healings. Others have accused him of impropriety. Despite his detractors, those whose lives he has touched say he is a simple man with a gift. John of God charges no fees and takes no credit for what he does. He says it is the power of God working through him.
Susan Casey, the editor-in-chief of O, The Oprah Magazine, traveled to the Casa to experience John of God for herself. Walking into it as a neutral journalist, she says she was driven first and foremost by curiosity.

"If there is one case of healing...if there is even one instance of the thousands we've heard about, then really, what's going on?" Susan says.

On the day Susan visited, she says she saw thousands of people lined up, all hoping for a miracle.

"There's this intense sense of hope from people," Susan says. "If you've been told you don't have another chance—[if] the doctor has said, 'We can't do anything more for you'—and you come here, and you've been told this man can potentially create a miracle for you...that's some heavy stuff. I felt that and I was trying to stay very open to it, but it often was overwhelming."

Susan witnessed some physical surgeries while she was there, including an eye scraping—a procedure where John of God uses a knife to scrape the eyeball. Susan says she watched John of God perform this surgery on a woman while she was there and, to her surprise, the woman was completely calm the entire time.

"Even if it doesn't hurt and skeptics say, 'Oh, you know, if you don't touch the cornea, it doesn't hurt.' But come on, if somebody comes at you with a knife in your eye, you're going to flinch. And there was just no flinching," Susan says.

Courtesy of Susan Casey While at the Casa, Susan was also searching for her own healing. After her father suddenly passed away two years ago, Susan experienced a "tsunami of grief" that she says she couldn't escape from. She wondered if John of God could help heal her grief.

When she first met with John of God, she says all he did was look her in the eyes. "I thought, 'That was it?' I was expecting a lightening bolt, where there's a big flash of insight. And they just said, 'Come back later.' It's basically, 'Take a blessing and come back.'"

Susan met with him a second time, and again, he didn't spend any time with her. What he did do was look at a picture of Susan and her father. He then told Susan to sit in the "healing room," a room in the Casa reserved for meditation and prayer, for three hours. Susan says she was surrounded by hundreds of people in the healing room, all of whom were praying and meditating with their eyes closed.

Three hours went by like 20 minutes," Susan says, "and it was blissful—it was like I was floating."

In her own state of meditation, Susan says she was able to speak with her father. "It was very real," she says. "More of a vision than I had ever had before. ... I got this feeling like I shouldn't be sad, that everything was okay."

While Susan acknowledges that the whole experience sounds skeptical, she says she's "not a woo-woo person," and that the Casa helped her find healing.

"I just feel as though I saw the joy in life again," she says. "I am a very excited and curious person usually, and that had gone [after my father passed away]. And [after being at the Casa], I started sleeping less, I had more energy, I felt lighter and I felt happier." Dr. Jeff Rediger is a psychiatrist who traveled to the Casa seven years ago as a skeptic. His goal was to collect lab reports, radiological exams and photos of people who reported that they were physically healed by John of God and to see if the healings could be documented.

Like Susan, he witnessed several physical surgeries while he was there—an experience he says changed the way he thought about the world.

"Some people who I spoke with were able to remember the events going around them completely, and some people seem to enter a sort of altered state during these surgeries," he says. "When I was assisting in one of the surgeries, [John of God] cut this woman's cornea. She didn't flinch. She didn't try to pull away from him. I can't explain that. I heard some people use the term 'spiritual anesthesia.' I have no way to understand that."

John of God: The Brazilian Healer Who's Touched the Lives of Millions [Hardcopy).
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