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Gail Thackray Newsweek Interview

John of God, who has healed millions without using western medicine. has been hailed by Oprah Winfrey and millions of others as an international healer. This article is excerpted from Newsweek's Special Edition, Spiritual Living, The Secret to Peace and Happiness, by Issue Editor Trevor Courneen.

For all the unanswered mysteries the universe presents, few are incredible enough to earn the label of miracle. Hyperbole is often tied to bewildering occurrences and practices, but a closer look can often lessen their profundity. Though tirelessly explored and frequently experienced, the divine-spirit-induced healing work of John of God remains an exception.

A woman and her son await Spiritual Surgery at the Casa de Dom Inacio de Loloya. Each day roughly 2,000 individuals visit the center for healings.

"It is hard to believe, but when you experience this, it is profound,” says Gail Thackray, co-creator of the film John of God: Just a Man and author of the accompanying memoir. An insisting astrologer would initially push Thackray to Brazil where she would first pursue and meet the enigmatic man who heals others by becoming inhabited by spirits. Eventually, Thackray discovered her own purpose was sharing the healings of John of God with the rest of world

Born João Teixeira de Faria in the Brazilian town of Cachoeira de Goiás, the early life of John of God is nearly as mysterious as his miraculous healings. After completing just two years of school, the young de Faria began drifting from village to village across Brazil until somewhere along the way, the spirits he claims to communicate with led him to Abadiânia. There, de Faria would call upon his innate psychic abilities to provide various healings to all who sought them, which would catalyze the creation of his now famous Casa de Dom Inácio de Loyola healing center. Despite lacking any medical education, John of God has become the most prominent psychic surgeon in the world, with thousands seeking his services on a daily basis.

“John always lets people know that it is God who heals the people, not him,” says Thackray. “I believe he is a facilitator who helps people reconnect with the Divine.” Thackray herself is helping people connect as she now regularly brings groups on healing trips to the Casa de Dom Inácia de Loyola.

Through her numerous experiences, she has seen what she considers undeniable evidence of spirits entering John of God’s body. “His physical appearance even changes, and you can see his eyes changing from brown to blue," Thackray states.

Whether the guidance of God, divine spirits or varying otherworldly beings are truly enacting the healings, the results of John of God’s work have a way of speaking for him. The energies may not be seen, but in many cases, the healings are. “Many times he takes someone out of a wheelchair, and the ailments literally disappear in front of your eyes,” says Thackray.

Sometimes the injuries disappear, but signs a healing has taken place remain. Thackray recalls one particular instance where a man visited the Casa in hopes of having his heart condition cured. Without ever actually touching him, John of God merely passed his hand over the man’s shirt. The man then lifted his shirt to see a fresh scar signifying his heart condition had been healed.

As life-changing as these events can be, those healed by John of God generally feel a greater impact on their soul than their body. “Many who visit are healed from physical ailments, but even those people will report that the true healing is much deeper and more profound,” states Thackray. “They have received love, a zest for life, a freeing from guilt or emotional pain.”

Thackray understands this common sentiment as someone who has experienced her own profound healing. Sitting in John of God’s prayer room one day, she was suddenly struck by a spiritual intervention that would alter her life. “I was not in a meditative mood at all, in fact quite the contrary, my mind occupied with business and life,” Thackray recalls. “Suddenly, it was as if a divine light came over me. I was touched with such a beautiful feeling of love that I was moved to tears. A voice came and told me to forget about my concerns and to discover my higher purpose. It was so beautiful, and I can only describe that as a conversation with God.”

Naturally, Thackray had the immediate desire to bring the enlightening experience in Brazil back to the U.S. “I told the voice that I wanted to share this with others at home, and I have been blessed to do this,” she says. Through her own work, Thackray has witnessed John of God’s power display the ability to transcend geographical distance. “Even at events in the U.S. where I have talked about John of God, people in the audience have felt the energy and even received spontaneous healings,” she says.

Despite all of the astounding stories surrounding his work, John of God remains insistent that he is not a healer but rather just an ordinary man. He attempts to lead a normal life, too, taking care of his large family, his farming businesses and his cattle ranch. Still, it would seem someone who is best known for serving as an unwaveringly powerful spiritual vessel would be unable to truly have any off-time.

John says when he is not in session he is ‘switched off ” says Thackray. After spending a great deal of time with him, though, Thackray feels despite his insistence to the contrary, when a spirit wishes to enter his body, John of God doesn’t fight it. “It seems even when he is not asking for it, spirits will come and go,” she says.

Several people wait to recieve healings outside the Casa de Dom Inacio de Loyola

John of God did not ask for the current of spirits that freely flow through him at all times, nor does he seek the fame that accompanies such an attribute. Not even one of the most influential figures in the world could convince John of God to break from his modest ways and embrace his organically growing celebrity. “When Oprah wanted to interview him, he wasn’t interested in going to America,” Thackray says. Determined to spread the word of this seemingly miraculous individual, the talk show tycoon decided to display her own humility by going to Brazil and checking in to a modest hotel. Oprah’s widely publicized visit would inevitably result in millions more being intrigued enough to travel to the Casa to experience healings themselves.

For the most part, the fame—while unsought—is not unwelcome, and seems to favor much of what John of God is doing. “Of course it has made his work more acceptable and brought more donations to the center, which is constantly expanding,” says Thackray. A regular day at the Casa, according to Thackray, now hosts about 2,000 people.

Using a knife, John of God performs a visible spiritual surgery on a womans eyes. Some healings require only his hands while some require tools.

With his staggeringly vast reach, the degree of John of God’s exceptional nature becomes a resurfacing question. Even those who acknowledge that energy flows within all of us acknowledge that there hasn’t been anyone on Earth quite like John of God in quite some time. “We all have the ability to heal on some level and can develop this,” says Thackray. “But some are born with or receive a very special healing gift. John of God is rare indeed.”

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