Student missionaries host faith healings in Troxel Hall

Talon Delaney

Around 150 Christian students gathered in 1001 Troxel Hall to pray together, listen to music and heal one another through their faith.

Students from the Catholic Student Community, Harvest Vineyard Young Adult Group, BRICS, Navigators and other ISU Christian groups joined forces to invite musical guests from Circuit Riders, a California-based missionary group.

The celebration started at 7 p.m. Students prayed together while the Circuit Riders performed, took to their seats for a sermon and returned to the floor of Troxel Hall for more music and praying. Only this time they were called upon one another to heal their ailments using prayer.

“We’ve seen 100s of people physically healed on this tour,” said Miles Pennell, a missionary with the group. “We met a girl earlier today with a sprained ankle… she was hesitant at first, but some students prayed for her and her ankle was healed.”

The Circuit Riders have been touring college campuses across the U.S. They last performed at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

“If you have any problems with pain or hearing or seeing, or even digestive problems, raise your hands!” Pennell said, beckoning the students to pray for one another.

The students mingled among the music, sought out their suffering peers and began praying for them. Once they finished praying, Pennell called over the loud music for them to pray even longer. Eventually, students came forward claiming they had been healed.

“I had a really bad migraine,” said Emily Young, senior in interior design. “It’s gone now. I felt the pressure lift away… this is awesome!”

Young began suffering from migraines when she was 16, and has never had much luck treating her chronic headaches.

“I’ve tried temporary fixes, medication and aromatherapy mostly,” Young said. “But it was always hit or miss.”

Alyssa Scaminaci, freshman in electrical engineering, said she was healed through prayer that night too.

“I had this pain in my stomach, it hurt so much. It was terrible,” Scaminaci said. “They asked if anyone was feeling any pain so I raised my hand. The first time they prayed over me I didn’t feel anything, but the second time I felt this warmth come over me.”

Faith healing is an ancient phenomenon practiced in nearly every religion and culture. There are even faculty at Iowa State with direct experience in faith healing. Hector Avalos, a religion professor and scholar of the bible, performed faith healings as a child evangelist in Mexico.

As Avalos continued studying religion, his views changed. He wrote an article on the science of faith healing in 2007, which can be found here. Avalos argued that there are simply too many variables to account for to do a proper scientific study regarding the healing power of prayer.

“How does one control for prayers said on behalf of all the sick people in the world?” Avalos wrote. “How does one assess the degree of faith in patients that are too sick to be interviewed or in the persons performing the prayers?”

Avalos also gave a lecture on this topic in 2015, which the Daily reported on. Avalos argued that one cannot hold God responsible for any phenomenon if God’s existence has not been verified.

“You need to know that a being is to know that it did something,” Avalos said. “That’s like saying I don’t know if martians exist, but they set my pants on fire.”

Nonetheless, the students in attendance Thursday night attested to the power of prayer.

“You usually don’t see healing like that,” said Ethan Piszczek, freshman in mechanical engineering. “It was great seeing all these passionate people worshipping Christ and praying for people.”

The audience also listened to a personal sermon delivered by missionary Dallas Dauwer, who read the story of the adulterous woman from the gospel of John.

In John 8, the Jewish Pharisees drag a woman before Jesus. The woman is convicted of adultery, a crime punishable by death under Levitical law. Instead of allowing the woman to be executed, Jesus says, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

However, Dauwer is suspicious of the Pharisees, as the scripture says they were testing Christ.

“How often do you catch someone committing adultery?” Dauwer asked. “Where’s the man? I think the Pharisees set this women up. They made her sin become her identity… and her life rested in Jesus’s response.”

Dauwer paralleled the story with problems faced in his own life, such as abuse, broken families and addiction. He told the audience that Jesus doesn’t want to punish them for their mistakes, but instead wants them to learn from their mistakes. He also compared ISU’s campus to the adulterous woman.

“Look at your campus as the adulterous woman,” Dauwer said. “There’s sinning, right? Partying, we know that happens. And so does date rape. We can choose see these students like we’re the Pharisees, or we can see them like Jesus does.”

Dauwer said that people on this campus need saved from such behavior, and the only way they can be saved is through Jesus.

“There are people on this campus right now that are thinking about killing themselves,” Dauwer said. “That’s why they go to parties and drink to numb the pain, that’s why they cut themselves.”

After hours of singing, praying and socializing, the Circuit Riders led some of the group to State Gym, where they had reserved the pool to provide baptisms.

 “We baptized 3 people,” said Madelyn Pain, ISU graduate and coordinator of the event. “[For one of them] it was their first time. The other two wanted to feel the blessings of Jesus again.”