From an original interview by Robert Pellegrino-Estrich
They come in their thousands. The sick, the lame, the 'incurable' and the medically discarded, to a small town in central Brazil. They endure long international flights and for some long bus trips to Abadiania, high on the plateaux of Central Brazil. They come to be cured by the miracle healer, Joao Teixeira de Faria ... the man they call John of God.
He will scrape away cataracts and eye tumours with a knife, remove breast cancers with a small incision and cause the crippled to walk with just the touch of his hand. In a meditation room a ceiling high stack of discarded crutches, wheelchairs and braces pays silent testimony to his success. He is acclaimed as the greatest healer of the past 2,000 years.
Buses arrive throughout the night. At 5am it is cool and still. A heavy mist blankets the town of Abadiania much of which has grown to cater for the thousands who pilgrimage here. People sit outside the simple lodging houses talking softly... waiting. Some sleep in cars or buses or simply stand around waiting for the sunrise. The lodging houses provide free coffee for the weary travellers who spill from newly arrived buses all through the night. Dawn will bring new hope of a life without pain or illness.
The hospital-style centre opens at 6am. The sick collect their queuing numbers as cameramen prepare their equipment for the filming of the day's activity. In an unmarked room Joao rests in preparation. Rita, a dentist and volunteer aid, who says she was healed by Joao of an incurable disease, explains that he can call on more than 34 doctor entitles who use him as a vessel to perform the amazing surgery and healing. Joao is an unconscious medium, she explains, who does not remember anything once he is incorporated by entity. The principal entity is Dom Inacio, after whom the centre is named - Casa De Dom Inacio.
My initial interview with Joao is in the unmarked room at the rear of the centre. He lies on a couch in the dimly lit, sparsely furnished room. On the wall above his head hang pictures of his principal entities. On the adjacent wall hang a dozen Honorary Degrees, Certificates of Appreciation and Civil Awards bestowed upon him by grateful countries and VIPS, among them a plaque bearing a Medal of Honour from the President of Peru in gratitude for healing his son. Joao greets us with an outstretched hand from the couch where he is resting. We do not stay long. He has another busy day ahead. The people are lining up - over 600 already and it is only 7.30am. Soon he will say a simple prayer and incorporate the entity. Time enough for us to inspect the premises before the healings begin.
The healing centre, affectionately known as The House, is simple, efficient and designed to cater for large numbers of people. The main hall is open at one end leading out to a covered walkway, toilets and a rose garden. This is the main treatment area where most of the visible operations are performed on patients where they stand. A lilting song heralds his entry. Followed by assistants carrying trays of surgical instruments, he moves slowly in trance. Anaesthesia and sterilisation are provided invisibly by the entities, a fact that astounds medical doctors who come to observe him. In 35 years there has never been a single case of septicaemia in the house.
During the first morning 1 saw operations performed that defied my logic. Touching the head of a woman who had a large tumour in her stomach, he lifted her shirt to reveal a freshly stitched four-inch incision. Two hours later she seemed well, in high spirits and happy to show me her incision. 'See,' she said, 'the tumour is gone, and I'm going home to cook dinner!'
Some of the operations are unorthodox in the extreme. With a pair of long nosed forceps and a cotton swab he operates through the nose, twisting the forceps high in the sinus cavity. I am told that he can perform 28 different operations throughout the body with this technique. While gruesome for the viewers, many feel only a mild unpleasantness whilst others
experience considerable discomfort. One woman said that the sensation was so good she was sorry Joao had not done the other one. One man l interviewed declared he had six broken bones in his feet repaired by this method. A similarly illogical operation is performed by scraping the eyeball with a kitchen knife, a procedure absolutely impossible by any medical doctor. Apart from the removal of eye tumours and cataracts, he also operates elsewhere in the body by scraping the eye. Invited to watch at close range, I saw a small blue light emanate from the tip of the knife. This light strobed deep into the iris and seemed to break up into multiple white fingers. At no time was there an anaesthetic or aseptic used in any operation. Incisions produce virtually no bleeding, a fact which astounds doctors and scientists alike.
I was warned by a kindly assistant to watch for an amazing phenomenon: 'simultaneous invisible operations' which occur in the crowd as he operates. Even so, 1 was not prepared for the frequency and, simplicity of this remarkable occurrence. People began dropping like flies all around me. 'Get that one!' Joao said as he paused from a delicate eye operation and pointed into the crowd. 'There is another over there. Take them to the recovery room,' he said with firm compassion. These were truly miraculous healings.
1 watched in amazement as a man, confined to a wheelchair for 50 years, was told to stand and walk after a simple touch of his legs. The grateful man burst into tears as assistants walked him away and the wheelchair was removed to become part of the static display in the meditation room. l pulled myself away to check on patients in the recovery room.
Fitted with two rows of clean white beds, the recovery room smelled clean and sterile; a spiritual air, not the chemical smell of a hospital. I sought out some of the 'simultaneous operations' to check their post operative condition. Hopeless cancer cases, gallstones, hernia, cataracts, chronic arthritis, leukaemia, heart problems and many undiagnosed illnesses. All were drowsy but calm and content. Everyone I spoke to had been operated on; successfully, they assured me. One man, who had not been able to sit or bend and previously required assistance to lie down, had received a small incision between his shoulders. Immediately he could bend, squat and sit. He was so happy tears rolled down his big square cheeks as he described his amazing cure.
The house contains three other major rooms. One is a meditation room where 30 or more mediums, all dressed in white, sit in deep meditation. This, they tell me, generates a strong healing current. Next door, in the main interview room, sit another 60 or more volunteer mediums. The long line of ailing pilgrims walk through the centre of this room to receive their cures or prescriptions from the medium Joao, who is in entity. Following the visible operations, he sits in a large chair as the people file past. The entity scans each person and 'sees' their problem. For many, he will write a script for herbs in a strange spirit shorthand. Limping, on crutches or in wheelchairs, the line seems unending. Some who need operations are directed to wait in an adjoining room where major surgery or prolonged treatments take place. As he speaks, his hand, seemingly disconnected from the man himself, flashes across a notepad. Another script, another instruction and the line moves on. An engineer who first brought his daughter to the house seeking a cure for a painful leg condition, tells me the medium will stay until all have been treated, sometimes late into the evening.
Although a successful businessman in his private life, Joao Teixeira is a simple man of humble origins who now devotes three days every week to healing his fellow human beings, without payment of any kind. A heavy-set man with a slight bodily slump, he exudes deep compassion and remarkable inner strength. He speaks with an economy of words but his deep voice commands attention.
Born into an impoverished family, he is intimately familiar with hunger, deprivation and the humility of poverty. As revealed in his biography The Miracle Man, he discovered his extraordinary gift at age 16 when a female vision appeared to him and told him to go to a nearby spiritual church. Greeted by a senior member when he arrived, he does not remember the next few hours but on awakening he was told that he had performed miraculous operations. He has continued healing for 38 years despite relentless persecution. For much of his youthful life he was forced to live as a wanderer, traveling from city to city healing the sick and living from their donations of food. The police harassed him constantly with beatings and incarceration. Despite his compassion and unselfish dedication to the thousands of sick who seek his help, he is still ridiculed by his enemies. Amazingly, he treats many of his persecutors - doctors and police - with their own incurable diseases. Clergymen, rabbis and nuns from all over the world write testimonies to his miraculous cures.
The poor and the famous are equally welcome. The famous include actress Shirley Maclaine who was told she could never dance again until Joao cured her stricken legs caused by a tumour in her stomach. Thousands of written testimonies are filed in the office along with piles of newspaper clippings and personal letters of gratitude. It is estimated he has cured more than 15 million people in his 38 years of healing. Reports by scientists from all over the world support claims of miraculous healings of every malady known and unknown, including incurable cancers, lupus disease and 139 cases (at the time of writing) of AIDS. Many come with their white coats of scepticism, but all leave totally convinced that he is a genuine paranormal phenomenon of medicine.
The sick do not pay for treatment. If herbs are prescribed they pay only a few dollars to cover the cost of production. They will be fed at lunchtime with a simple wholesome soup, bread and herb tea, for which there is no charge. The week before I arrived he treated and fed over 15,000 people in three days! He and his volunteer staff worked non-stop up to 14 hours each day. It is said that he treats and operates on more people for major maladies in a single week than the largest western hospital would treat in a month.
Like other renowned healers before him - Edgar Cayce
, Ze Arigo and Britain's Harry Edwards, his miraculous cures provide hope for the terminally ill who have exhausted all avenues of modem medicine. Joao is the living proof of spirit existence that even the sceptics cannot refute.
A trip to this sanctuary is a spiritually uplifting experience even for the hale and hearty.
John of God