by Tim Stafford
“I want anybody who is deaf to come to the front. Anybody who can’t hear. God is going to heal tonight.” Heidi Baker, with short, swept-back blond hair, hawk-like blue eyes, and Teutonic features, speaks over a powerful sound system into a pitch-black African night.
We are in the dusty village of Chiure, Mozambique, the 11th poorest nation on earth. No electricity or running water is available here. From their ragged clothes and bare feet, you can see that the people are destitute. Two trucks have brought students from Pemba, Baker’s mission center. Setting up open-air screens and generator-powered projectors, they have just shown the Jesus film. Preaching followed. And now, a crowd of several hundred has gathered on the bare ground in front of the trucks for the climactic moment.
Heidi Baker, known worldwide for her healing miracles, spends a third of every year on the charismatic speaking circuit, where people routinely fall to the floor in unconscious bliss or shake and laugh uncontrollably. They come, enthralled, to hear of Baker’s miracles in places like Chiure.
In recent years, she says, 100 percent of the deaf in the Chiure area have been healed through prayer. Not only that, she claims, scores have risen from the dead, food has been multiplied, the crippled and blind have been restored, and the gospel has spread like fire. Baker’s church association now numbers 10,000 congregations, maybe more.
Responding to Baker’s call, four people straggle to the front, standing uneasily. The audience crowds forward around them, blocking the view. Most of what happens is relayed over the booming sound system in Portuguese and translated into Makhuwa, the local language, with occasional explanations in English.