The UK's fastest-growing regional news network
13°C | 6°C
12°C | 10°C
13°C | 4°C
See the full forecast for your area.
Sponsored by Britelite.
Home Canterbury News Article
A group of Kent church-goers has been forced to deny claims members told people to stop taking vital medication in favour of prayer alone.
The band of Christians, called Canterbury Healing on the Streets (HOTS), is a regular fixture in the High Street.
Members believe they can heal the sick through prayer and say miracles have been performed.
But they have been forced to counteract claims they told people to stop quit prescribed medication.
The movement has also been previously banned from working in Bath by an advertising watchdog, which ruled its members were unable to substantiate their claims.
The group's members have prayed for thousands and claim to have physically cured dozens – all to the bafflement of doctors.
For such an emotive subject, it is perhaps unsurprising they have attracted their fair share of controversy.
But Canterbury co-ordinator Simon Redman distances the group from more contentious "faith-healers" whose practices have been branded dangerous.
The devout Christian, who regularly worships at St Mary Bredin Church and runs the city's Street Pastors project, said he has seen many astonishing examples of God's power to heal.
"We have seen physical pains, swellings and bruises disappear from all parts of the body," he explained.
"Someone returned to tell us their cyst had disappeared and another said a hernia had gone, to the surprise of their respective doctors.
"A lady's hearing returned in one ear. One young man said he had stopped drinking and built a relationship with his children again after prayer.
"We've prayed for several women who have struggled to have children and they have conceived shortly afterwards.
"One man told us his back had just been healed walking across our site and that he didn't believe in this stuff."
Referring to a claim circulating on Facebook that a diabetic had been told to stop taking insulin by a team member, Mr Redman said: "We do not tell people to stop taking their medication unless a doctor confirms they no longer need to.
"Other groups which controversially recommend this are not associated with us. We want people to feel loved and valued, not forced into risky behaviour."
Fellow Canterbury member Aideen Johnston said: "Anyone who's told anyone to stop taking their meds is breaking the rules so to speak - we specifically say not to."
She was referring to training given to members before they take to the streets.
Mr Redman added: "You cannot pray on the HOTS team unless you've undertaken the training.
"We have trained nearly 200 to pray for people wherever they are. We have seen great answers to prayer in airport lounges, supermarkets and on buses."
Mr Redman accepted the group's work is "very emotive" for many people, but said he has never had a negative reaction from those who have not been healed.
He said: "We readily admit that not everyone gets healed when we pray for them but no one leaves without knowing that God loves them.
"We have seen people receive emotional healing of a significant issue even when the physical ailment remained."
Responding to concerns that promises of healing could give the terminally-ill false hope, he added: "I feel sad when people are denied the chance for prayer and I would rather live in a world full of hope, which God offers in the knowledge that we are all equally valued."
Healing on the Streets is a Christian ministry founded by Mark Marx at the Causeway Coast Vineyard Church in Northern Ireland.
It operates in more than 100 cities in the UK and Europe, and involves Christian churches of different denominations.
In Canterbury, it is made up of members from St Mary Bredin Church, Canterbury Baptist Church, Canterbury Vineyard Church, The City Church, New Life Pentecostal Church and St Andrew’s United Reformed Church.
The team sets up chairs on the corner of Best Lane every Saturday, gives out cards explaining the ministry and invites people to sit down and receive prayer.
When asked why Canterbury HOTS prays so publicly, co-ordinator Simon Redman responded: "Why not?"
"We want to meet as many people as possible and engage with them if they choose to speak with us," he said.
"In these modern times many people are not familiar with coming into a church and so we come to where people are on a Saturday, the High Street.
"We hope people will see a different image of church when they meet the team."
What do you think? Join the debate below.
Click here for more news from Canterbury.
Click here for more news from around the county.