One of the most controversial Pentecostal gifts was the word of knowledge practiced on the set of The 700 Club. Essentially a word of knowledge is the ability to know what God is thinking or what He intends to do in the life of another person. It is usually a revelation that can be used as a prophecy or a healing, like Noah getting the word from the Lord to build an ark. I had never experienced this particular gift before joining CBN, and was taken aback the first time Pat, Ben, and I joined hands in prayer. With eyes closed, and whispering, “Dear Jesus . . .” Pat said someone had a tumor on their neck and the Lord was healing him. Ben squeezed my hand and said the Holy Spirit was restoring a man with lost hearing in his right ear. Then Pat said a woman was praying for her child and the Lord had heard her prayers, and that someone was asking the Lord for a million dollars and it would be granted to him. Then Ben said a woman named Nancy had gout and the Lord was raising her up out of her wheelchair. And on it went until Pat and Ben mutually ceased and the prayer was over.
Routinely, after words of knowledge, the show’s script had Pat or Ben deliver an altar call, an invitation for the nonbelieving viewers to kneel or put their hands on the TV set and to join in prayer to be saved by the Lord. Next came the call to action. Once viewers were in the fold, they were asked to call CBN and tell us they had just been saved, or to claim a healing. And while they were calling that 800 number (at the time CBN was the largest user of the 800 number in America), to remember that the Lord blesses those who give, and told they could join The 700 Club at various membership levels, pledging a certain amount of money to CBN every month. CBN gleaned a huge database of names, addresses, and telephone numbers this way from our 16 million daily viewers. Calls poured into the CBN Counseling Center, a bank of employees and volunteers who worked the phones around the clock, counseling callers about their spiritual concerns, taking messages of healings, and logging pledges for donations.
For the first several weeks, I did not have a word of knowledge. I was a silent partner in prayer sitting quietly beside Pat and Ben day after day while healings were dispensed like tissues. And then one day it happened to me. In an unpremeditated moment during Pat and Ben’s prayers, a burst of warmth bubbled up from my throat and blasted out, “There’s a man in Jerusalem who cannot walk. The Lord has heard your prayers and your feet are healed.” I didn’t know what came over me. All I can say is that I felt an impulse and gave voice to it. Was it a supernatural insight, a divine conviction? Or was it a sense of duty to fulfill a role as cohost? Whatever, I was a little embarrassed. But from that time on, I belted out words of knowledge with the best of them. I never got a second glance from Pat or Ben. In fact, no one ever mentioned that I had stepped into the spiritual big league. It was just another day of miracles on The 700 Club.
A fascinating part of this spectacle was the response we got from viewers who claimed these “healings.” While we fired spiritual buckshot from our lofty satellite pulpits, some of it hit willing targets, yearning for a word from God, thirsty for some affirmation, desperate for an answer to prayer. The “medical miracles” submitted to CBN were vetted by a team of nurses who had a group of doctors at their disposal for consultation. But the ratio of healing testimonies to stories we could actually produce ran about three hundred to one.
And of course, there was the cosmetic factor. The person receiving the miracle had to meet CBN’s physical standards to overcome the stereotype that Christians were overweight, polyester-wearing Bible-thumpers. While we were careful to authenticate video healings, the “miracles” we read over the air from phone calls were not vetted at all. We took everything pretty much on faith.
Two years after my first word of knowledge, while shooting a series of 700 Club shows in the Holy Land, a man rushed up to me clutching a pair of shoes. He said he had been bedridden and unable to walk for over a year. Watching The 700 Club one day, he heard me give a word of knowledge for a man in Jerusalem. He told me he believed God was talking to him. His legs shivered, his bones creaked, but he rose out of bed and for the first time, put on the shoes he now clutched in his hand. On the soles of his shoes he wrote the word, “Danuta.” Who was I to deny his conviction?
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