Now if I had known Jesus lived in Westlake, I certainly would have visited much sooner. But it turns out, Jesus does not live there. A representative of his does. Now, Christian or not, I am a skeptic. The only reason I have not gone full rogue from Christianity is because I have experienced for myself the Holy Spirit and the supernatural. Otherwise, true hedonist flesh that I am, I would be in bars and clubs every night, never ever feeling any guilt about not going to church—where supposedly God lives, or even picking up the Living Word—which, for the sake of prosperity, I recommend you do daily.
Recently, on a Sunday night, I went to a Path of Faith healing session. Their literature says they are ‘an organization dedicated to bringing people closer to God.’ According to them, ‘when an individual becomes closer with God’s spirit, one is able to receive many of the Spirit’s graces, such as healing.’
Like Jesus, Issam Nemeh, M.D., was the man with the healing hands everyone flocked to see. Out of about 200 sick, lame, or just plain curious, about ten were tan enough to be tagged people of color. On a cold day that promised a treacherous amount of highway snow by the time the 10 AM – 2 PM healing-fest ended, Pumpkin (not her real name) and I entered the hotel.
There were greeters to greet us, to take our tickets printed from the computer, to point out snacks, the invisible sandwiches that would appear at lunch, and the special table where prayer notes for others who could not attend could be written. I filled out three: healing for a person with MS, for a person who is wheelchair-bound, and for a friend who has emotional issues resulting in extreme physical pain. May Jehovah Rapha bless them all.
After getting our hands stamped with pink hearts the size of a dime to show we’d paid the price for healing, Pumpkin and I were escorted to our chairs, rows of ten chairs on each side of the aisle. More in back. Trapper Jack, an aging radio personality who is blind, served as MC to help us see the great Dr. Nemeh for who he claimed to be.
When the good doctor came before us to applause—not like LeBron James applause but a good doctor’s applause—one is struck by his ordinariness. He is dark with dark hair and a grandpa’s belly, suggesting an appetite for God as healthy as his appetite for food.
For obvious reasons, children were first to be chosen. Not because they’re just so dang cute. But because they can be so dang distracting when in the company of adults and nothing good to climb on. So the greeters sat them and their parents in the eleven special chairs up front, whose backs were to us. Presumably for privacy—should your face contort when the aggravating demons rush out.
My nerves were so bad after waiting so long for a touch of Dr. Nemeh’s hands, my mouth dried and I began to cough—a likely sign of demons. As a consequence, when Dr. Nemeh asked what was the cause of my suffering, I hardly recognized my own voice. After whispering through the hoarseness a secret pain I never believed I would share with anyone, I opened myself to the possibility of healing. He laid hands upon me, repeating prayers of a humble beauty. And while, I can’t say that I was healed in that moment, I recall his hands feeling like a space heater turned toward my back.
Now let’s turn to Pumpkin. When the doctor laid hands on her, unlike the old and frail woman to my right who refused to answer the doctor’s questions (to his obvious frustration), Pumpkin, to my left, who had laid bare her malady earlier, was not asked a single question. Already sobbing as he approached, she gave her whole self to the experience—and the sounds that came from her were of such a nature that my head swung left in wonder of where the good doctor’s hot hands had slipped.
After a moment, Dr. Nemeh squinted hard in Pumpkin’s direction, and then moved on to the next anxious soul.
Pumpkin, the Holy Spirit will tell you (although she will never admit it), is a bit of a drama queen. Whenever we go anywhere together, I’m never surprised that I’m surprised by her reactions. The only true surprise is what reaction will manifest. And at what volume. People pitch. Or dog pitch.
After the couple next to Pumpkin was touched, they gave us hugs and wished us well. In the woman’s voice, I could hear her fear that in the Dr.’s hands there would be nothing more than heat for her loved one’s cancer.
Overnight, while in bed, my right leg became numb. Whether it has anything to do with my bouts with sciatica or the Dr.’s touch, I can’t say. At some point, my leg returned to normal. My back issue is not what I prayed for, but if it never returns as a result of Dr. Nemeh’s hands and fervent faith, glory be to God.
If Trapper Jack’s blindness is any indication, healing may not come to us all. Like Paul of Tarsus, some of us will bear the thorn in our side. Perhaps to keep us humble. Perhaps to keep those like me—who are too eager to run away—close.
The doctor may be reached at his place of business:
Issam Nemeh, M.D.
26031 Center Ridge Road, Suite C
Westlake, OH 44145