By Thomas Chamberlin and Anthony Gough
Children as young as 13 claim they have instantly healed hundreds of people using the miracle powers of Jesus on Queensland streets.
The Pentecostal group Culture Shifters in Queensland says it has healed people suffering from cancer and multiple sclerosis and is developing a large youth following.
Children from the group have been approaching people at random on the street, prompting alarm from parents and warnings from doctors for the sick to seek medical attention.
“Anyone who has a medical condition should always seek advice from their doctor,” Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Richard Kidd said.
Leaders, aged in their teens and 20s, claim they have also healed an entire football team’s injuries, given hearing to a deaf woman and brought sight to a girl’s blind eye.
Experts say faith healing has been on the decline globally but, in Queensland, it is attracting an increasing band of followers, who might be putting their lives at risk.
The 160-member Culture Shifters group from the Bridgeman Downs Christian Outreach Centre is led by Grant Shaw, 27, and his wife, Emma, 23.
The couple claim to have had a 95 per cent success rate and to have healed more than 200 people in the past year.
YouTube videos posted online of the “Brisbane miracles” show leaders talking to teens in areas including busy Chermside Shopping Centre.
“Sometimes there can be a tingle, sometimes there can be a warmth, sometimes there can be a click, sometimes you don’t hear anything at all,” Mr Shaw, a former state government counsellor, said of the moment a person was healed.
Group leader Shayna Kendall, 16, said she joined against the objections of her mother who was concerned for her wellbeing.
“She thought it was stupid that I was getting into some sort of cult,” she said, adding the group had changed her life.
Christian Research Association senior research officer Reverend Dr Philip Hughes said that about half of all attendance by young people in churches had been happening in either charismatic or pentecostal churches.
Flinders University Department of Theology professor Andrew Dutney said youth could be more attracted to flamboyant religious styles than to mainline churches.
“There are issues of course … for example, if a person is drawn to this group with a promise of healing and then they are not healed,” Professor Dutney said.
“There can be situations where people blame the person themselves for not being healed and say: ‘You don’t have enough faith’ and ‘You have some secret sin’ and that can be extremely damaging.”
Mr Shaw denied the street and church healings were used as a money grab and said no donations were collected from those who were healed. —The Sunday Mail