it's a few weeks since we ran the dekhomai stand at the london mind body spirit festival and i've had questions buzzing around my head since then but not enough time to reflect on them. we had a get together of everyone involved on the team last week - the stories people shared of their encounters with visitors to the stand were so encouraging. god was clearly present with us and very gracious to us and those that came to us. stories of encouragement, insights (words of knowledge) into people lives that guided how to pray for them, and physical healing, and just the power of offering a free welcome and blessing were all part of our experience.
i guess what i am interested in is how can insights from cross cultural mission inform how we interact with spiritual seekers and some of the practices on stands at the festival. one of the areas that was particularly intriguing was energy healing (reike seemed the most popular). i am a complete novice in all of this but the impression you get is that there is a sense of a universal life force (which is what reike means) or spirit and the healers by meditating and holding hands over particular areas (energy centres) of the body expect the energy to flow into that area to bring healing. of course there is a lot more to it than that and a google search on reike will lead you to many sites of explanation...
but how do we react to this as christians. at a gut level i had two responses - one is this looks like prayer with the laying on of hands and the second is that this is some sort of dodgy couterfeit healing. this sort of polarisation is probably a pretty typical surface response that we need to quickly get beyond. fortunately others have been doing and thinking about mission in these environments for several years and have loads to teach plebs like me. john drane has been an inspiration and i have recently come across phil johnson and matt stone from downunder who have been offering us some encouragement. sadly i don't seem to have enough time to digest all the stuff that is around on this but i hope to be more clued up by next year anyway.
but on the subject of energy healing phil is really helpful. he wrote an article back in 99 (word file) that i think is excellent, and moves beyond the polarisation (it works so is good or is demonic and therefore bad). he suggests a missional take could be that the life force is the spirit of god present in creation and that we could follow paul in acts 17 by suggesting that christ is the fulfillment of the pagan quest - in other words naming the unknown healer as the spirit of god. i like the instincts here though i need to chew over it some more. reike healers came to our stand to receive healing and several were surprised how strong the energy was in our stand - this was precisely the moment in which we were able point to christ our healer and the spirit of god present to heal.