Members of the Greater New Haven community gathered at Battell Chapel on Monday and Tuesday evenings to worship with Minister Paul Campo of Victory Chapel of Cape Cod, Mass. as he healed the sick.
The event was organized by Pastor Kenneth Whelan, the religious leader of Victory Chapel in Hamden. Both Whelan and Campo are veterans to the healing ceremony process and have traveled to multiple parts of the developing world “saving people.” They claim that they heal through the “spirit of God” and can cure ailments ranging from joint pain to alcoholism and drug addiction.
“We create an Arena for the spirit of God to come in, touch the people present here tonight and heal them. If people just forgive all the sins committed against them and then pray and return to Jesus, they can be healed,” Whelan said. “Just think of all the money they could save on medical bills.”
Victory Chapel was originally created by Wayman Mitchell in 1970 in Prescott, Ariz. The churches go by other names, such as Potter’s House and The Door, and they place a strong emphasis on evangelism. This is the seventh year that Victory Chapel has held the healing ceremony in New Haven. Whelan said that he chose New Haven, and specifically Yale, because of their close ties to Christianity. Names now widely used on campus, such as Timothy Dwight, Jonathan Edwards and John Davenport, were all religious figures connected to Yale and New Haven.
“So, you see, we are just trying to bring this area back to what it was meant to be, back to what its founders wanted for this area. We would love to see more [Yale] students,” Whelan said.
The entire event Monday night lasted about two hours and consisted of two sermons and a sing-a-long which was accompanied by a request for donations. The healing period came at the end when approximately 25 people lined up at the podium to be healed.
In his sermon, Campo told the audience, “Jesus got off that cross, he is here in this room with us and he is going to heal. You know what? Everybody give Jesus a round of applause tonight.”
Melvin Huang ’05, a self-described Christian, was one of about three students present at the event on Monday. He mentioned before the service that he was “a bit skeptical” about the healing.
“It just seems a little gimmicky to me. I’m curious to see what this is,” Huang said.
Participants who chose to be healed came up to the podium and revealed their ailment. One woman complained that her arms were of different length. Campo, after praying with her, proclaimed her cured. Following a healing, shouts of “Save me, Jesus!” and “Heal me, Jesus!” could be heard from the pews. However, some audience members were left unconvinced.
“After the prayer, he asked her if she could move her arms and if she was in pain, yet that was not her initial complaint,” Huang said
Another student also questioned the validity of the healing ceremony but did agree that the experience evoked an emotional response.
“It was undoubtedly a highly emotional experience. I am nobody to say whether or not these people actually felt better, but I would describe the event as sensationalistic,” Victoria Holowink ’07 said.