Dr John Bonnici visited Brisbane recently to spread the Good News through his healing ministry. Journalist PAUL DOBBYN spoke with him
DON’T bother to ask Maltese medical doctor and spiritual healer John Bonnici whether he has “the gift of healing”.
He’ll quickly deny it and explain he’s “more like a postman delivering a gift” – except of course in this case “the gift is from God”.
And most likely he’ll say, as he did to me on his recent visit to Brisbane, “I don’t have the gift of healing … the gift is given to the person who is healed”.
“Healing comes naturally when Jesus is glorified – the Holy Spirit is then present and the healing starts,” he said.
“The whole thing is to preach the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“So many times the message gets lost in all the frills.
“We have so many beautiful things within the Catholic Church, we can forget the central message of our faith – this person of Jesus.”
To hear Dr Bonnici and his young associate Ian Diacono share their experiences, healing through God’s power can become an everyday occurrence. All we have to do is believe and ask for it.
Not only this, but it’s very “presumptuous” of believers to preach Christ’s Gospel without these signs of healing – “a vital part of the equipment for salvation Jesus left his followers”.
“We’re always seeing wonderful things,” Dr Bonnici said.
“I myself have seen instances where healthy kidneys were created when they were once shriveled.”
The 67-year-old doctor who was “baptised in the Holy Spirit” in 1963, then reaches into his presumably deep file of miraculous healing case histories to relate a remarkable event some 15 years prior.
“A young man had been in a very bad car accident and was left with very damaged brain,” he said.
“After three months in intensive care, he was declared brain dead and the life support machine was going to be switched off.
“This was when his mother called myself and others in our Charismatic community … she pleaded with us to pray for her son.
“I came up with others, but in the end I was the only one allowed into the IC room, being a doctor.”
As he entered the ward and saw the stricken young man, Dr Bonnici didn’t know what to pray for.
“In the end, all I could say was ‘Holy Spirit come upon him’.
“But as soon as I said these words his whole body jerked, so I thought I’d better do it again as something was happening.”
He repeated the prayer twice more, each with the same effect, then he left.
Dr Bonnici was later told by nurses that about five minutes after he left, the young man’s brain started working again.
“In a week he was out of hospital,” he said.
“There’s still a weakness in the side of the body relating to his brain damage … however, he’s now doing great things working for the poor.”
For Dr Bonnici and his young associate, this healing is for the whole Church not just the Charismatic movement.
In fact it’s also for those outside the Church.
“There was a girl in perfume shop at Malta Airport about two years ago – she had a hearing aid,” Mr Diacono said.
“We asked if she wanted us to pray for healing, she agreed and was at once able to hear without the aid.
“This happens all the time – we are always ready to try to heal.
“Jesus, after all, said ‘lay your hands on the sick, heal the sick’.
“We believe the same power He brought on earth is with us still to be used.
“We are all called to work in the supernatural by a God who calmed the seas and raised the dead; it’s simple, it’s easy, it’s all about love but we’ve complicated it.”
Which brings the conversation to a couple of other key questions.
Why are some people healed and others not?
Also – how does Dr Bonnici reconcile his training as a medical practitioner with events that must seem impossible from a scientific point of view?
“Why some people and not others?” he repeats.
“That’s a question I’ll ask God when I come before Him.
“I have seen non-believers healed and the faithful not.
“Why? Maybe unbelievers are more ready to be touched … we believers can look at ourselves too much, perhaps we block ourselves.
“The mind can get selfish … the more selfish we become the less we receive.”
Dr Bonnici, a doctor for 42 years, then moves to the next question.
“My medical training was at first an obstacle to becoming an agent of supernatural healing,” he said.
“Initially I used to argue a lot within myself.
“Through experience I learnt to accept the words of knowledge to unblock the path of healing from God.
“It was about death to the self, yielding to the Holy Spirit.”
It was at a university ball at the Casino Maltese club that then 19-year-old John Bonnici experienced a Baptism in the Spirit.
Something told him to go to the top gallery, where God’s love descended upon him in a powerful way.
He saw people receding from him and felt God telling him, “You’re no longer part of that.”
Interestingly, Mr Diacono, a youth leader in Malta, has a similar tale to tell.
“When I was about 17, I met Jesus in a powerful way when reading the Gospels,” he said.
“Around 21, I was baptised in the Spirit at a university party in Malta – the love of God fell upon me.”
Around this time while studying theology in Malta, he met Dr Bonnici who became his teacher and guide.
Both are now members of the Marana Tha Catholic Charismatic Community in Malta.
When Dr Bonnici spoke to The Catholic Leader, it was his ninth time in Australia, once again on the invitation of the Servants of Jesus community in Sydney.
As usual, too, invitations from various Catholic Charismatic Renewal groups around the country had also followed.
This time he had been to Sydney, Ballina and Brisbane after which he was to head to Canberra, Albury, Melbourne and Sydney and then return to Malta.
Both he and his young associate have many positive things to say about the Australian Church.
“The way some young people in Australia worship has revolutionised the world – you can appreciate this influence more clearly when you visit Europe,” Dr Bonnici said.
“I also believe the young here and elsewhere have a thirst for the spiritual … they are bored with materialism.”
Mr Diacono’s impressed with “how alive” the Australian Church is.
“I have observed a great reverence at Adoration,” he said.
“Ecumenism is very much alive too.
“There was a real ecumenical feel at Ballina for example.
“At home in Malta, there’s a lot of talk about ecumenism but you don’t see much of it … there is still much separation within the Christian faith there.”
Before he concludes the discussion, Dr Bonnici has a final message for those seeking healing.
“Just remember the Catholic Church’s Eucharist is the biggest healing service we can ever have,” he said.
“As Isiah said in the Scriptures: ‘He has taken upon himself our sicknesses’ – thus we should expect every kind of healing at this celebration.”