A Polite Conversation with a Faith Healer

I had an infuriating Christmas, ruined by a blowhard Christian missionary who commandeered the entire Christmas dinner to “prophecy” and “claim” everything in sight for Jesus, randomly start praying over people, and drone on and on about her appalling faith “healing” work in Africa, and then (after dinner) with me just ten feet away while she continued to dominate the whole table with supreme arrogance as she continued to speak for God, she had the amazing audacity to “counsel” my family on the magic prayers they needed to do to save me, while they just politely went along with it. It was all enraging.

This was Dan Finke’s facebook post.

I first had a rather pithy response to this.

“Aww isn’t she cute… She’s trying to be just like me.”

And  then I thought about what I said and realised it’s not helpful. And then realised why she acted like this. I can understand where she is coming from.

For those who never talk to me here? I work for a charity in a third world nation. I don’t charge anything, I work incredibly long hours in conditions that would be considered appalling now that when I first came here were a lot worse.

And if you spend any time doing this you don’t have much going on in your life. You don’t have friends, you don’t have movies, you don’t have events to talk about. Your entire world is what you do. I write because it was some little thing outside of what I normally do to keep me sane.

In every conversation you struggle to not do what she has. You struggle to not demolish the conversation with talk of what you did because you don’t want to come off as a gigantic show off. But all you really have are tidbits of culture.

I only “just” discovered Harlem Shake. 1 year after it hit you guys. I look like some caveman who’s been living under a rock. I am so far removed from British fashion that I don’t know what happened. My mind is still in 2007 when this massive journey kicked off. Culture, Music, Shows, Comedy, Art… all of it. I haven’t seen any of the new Dr. Who except in bursts when I am at home.

I am in effect living in a world where there is NO normal conversation topics. All I have to discuss is my work. I have no social life, I have no friends, I have nothing really going on that we would consider important. I am in effect a social pariah for my work. And the only thing I have going for me that’s current is what I do. So my choices in social situations are “be quiet” or “talk banal stuff” or “talk about my work”. And I think the last one would make everyone tired and bored.

This lady probably thinks she is making a real difference out there. This lady probably is the same as me and tries to do the same job. However, she cannot quantify it because missionaries don’t keep good records because they need to show progress without demonstrating how much. So while I can show you statistics on how powerful my efforts have been with what resources I am given she cannot. But SHE thinks that’s how we operate too. She honestly thinks that she is making a difference because she is told day in and day out that she is. And since she sees no reason to doubt her actions she wants to tell people about it. She doesn’t have the self awareness to “stop”.

She thinks she is saving the planet and the people she helps never get to see her again so she assumes they have gotten better. I am that way with many of my patients too. I have seen absolutely heart wrenching cases. Burn Victims, Dowry attempted murders, Acid Attacks, Mutilation, Psychiatric Self harm, genetic disorders and even parasite infestations that would make you lose not just your lunch but your faith in the possibility of any loving god who lets a child’s face get eaten internally by maggots. Or watch a 8 mm creature created by a loving god drink enough blood to cause massive anaemia. Or a foot long worm that grows so proliferatively that it blocks the entire bowel causing it to necrose and require resection lest the patient die.

I have never seen a faith healer treat those.

I have seen all of these and treated them and have them walk out. Never to return, never to ever see another professional again. I know they are still suffering. I know there are scars that never ever heal and pain that people will never ever share. I know I have saved people who drank a nerve poison from death only for them to go out and do it again and succeed. I have seen the worst cruelties that can exist. Of fathers and mothers killing their children. We may deem greed, lust, gluttony, sloth, pride, wrath and envy as the seven deadly sins but they are what make us human. That extra quid, that pretty smile, that one more biscuit, that award, that bitch and her nice car. Without these emotions we would not have the good things in life, and we wouldn’t have many of the bad things either.

I have dug mass graves for those who died in disasters and helped unearth some which were made by the actions of mankind. And all this made me more human.

And I know why she spoke up. She thinks that her never seeing the people she helped means that she has has cured those people. That they walked out and never came back because they didn’t need to.

That is why I hate missionaries. They take people who don’t have any skills (Let’s face it? For what I do unless you can operate stock keeping software and organise shelves you lot are mostly useless for my needs in the same way that I am a useless electrician). They have taken her on the dime of other people who bought into the missionary line and lied to her and told her she is doing good.

The ultimate problem is they probably have lied to themselves too. She spoke about this topic because she thinks it is working. We know it doesn’t. I know that her faith healers have killed in Africa because of their actions. I know they kill in the UK and America too. So it’s hard to not snap and tell them they are useless vultures who prey on the suffering of others to push their god onto people.

And it’s hard not to talk about what you do and take over the conversation. What she did was tell people what she was doing with her life. We just don’t get why she thinks it’s important or vital when all we see is a woman who travels to Africa to cast magic spells at problems and hope it works.


  1. corwyn says

    I know they kill in the UK and America too. So it’s hard to not snap and tell them they are useless vultures who prey on the suffering of others to push their god onto people.

    Would not the world be a better place if you tried less hard? Uncomfortable truths are uncomfortable, but they are the truth.

  2. AnotherAnonymouse says

    From my little corner of America, I am constantly barraged to give money to send 16-year-old missionaries out overseas. I think that’s extremely presumptious and downright rude for a know-nothing to go to another country and try to convince the people that they’re believing ‘wrong’. Worse, as you’ve pointed out, the presence of these idiots keeps people from getting actual useful treatments.

  3. Schlumbumbi says

    @Avicenna Are you sure you know how that women feels ?

    I mean, in opposite to her, you’re reluctant to grab and dominate everyone’s attention when you engage in social communication ? And probably, there’s a reason why she does it and you don’t.

    It’s often said that arrogance, especially when based on objectively non-existing accomplishments, is a sign of deep rooted insecurity. It would seem the women already knows on a more less unconscious level, that her “work” is actually good for nothing – something which incredibly hard to admit to yourself.

    It might not be neccessary to bash her face into her own shortcomings as a human being, but she must be stopped when inflicting harm on others or bragging about it.

  4. TinAge says

    Hard not to tell her she’s wrong? I’d find it hard not to smash a plate across her jaw and tell her to heal *that* with faith.

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