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Friday, October 7, 2016

Howard Clark's Healing

In 1964, I met Howard Clark at the Feast of Tabernacles in Squaw Valley. I was nine years old and my family told me his story, that he'd been divinely healed of paralysis caused by wounds sustained in the Korean War. Today I am a skeptic, and as such, I suspect that if Mr. Clark was healed of anything, it was a psychological "healing." One of the things that was said about it was that the VA continued to pay him full disability, despite his claim that he had been healed. I heard Clark confirm this in a sermon in 1974 or 1977.

I contacted the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri to ask if I could learn anything about his healing from these records. At first I was told that they had located the file and that the information I requested would be sent to me in mid-September at no charge. Then shortly afterwards I was informed that because of his separation date, the entire records were available to the public, and as such were not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. They offered to sell me a complete copy of his personnel file for $70. I sent a check in that amount, but then asked if the information I was seeking would be in that file. The NPRC said that it would not be, no or ever, because it was part of his medical record which is in the custody of the Veterans Administration. Those records are only available to next-of-kin. The NPRC kindly intercepted my check and returned it to me.

One of my relatives was married to a minister of the Worldwide Church of God (known as the Radio Church of God in 1958, when this healing purportedly occurred) who had worked under Howard Clark as a local elder while Clark was pastor of a congregation of the church in El Monte, California. They said, circa 1974, that Clark told them he was in constant pain and wished that God had healed him entirely or not at all.

I wrote to Howard Clark's son several weeks ago, asking if his father, at the end of his life, had still believed he had been divinely healed, because the few individuals I knew of who had known him personally said that it was a topic he didn't talk about much. To date I haven't heard back from him.

If anyone with personal knowledge of Mr. Clark's alleged healing would care to contact me about this story, I would appreciate it very much.

2 comments:

  1. Kathleen, I used to visit Howard Clark and his wife Beverly in the later years of Howard Clark's life, and at one point asked Clark about this very question and took notes, and later wrote about it from those notes. Here is what I wrote about it in 2006, pp. 505-506 of "Showdown at Big Sandy":

    "For eight years Clark had been confined to a wheelchair after having been badly shot up in Chosin Reservoir, Korea, in December 1950. The left side of his face, his left arm, and his whole body from the chest down were paralyzed. He suffered paresis (partial paralysis) on the right side of his face and right arm. His paralysis and paresis were caused by multiple injuries including contusions of the brain and spinal cord (neuroencephalopathy). A wartime friend persuaded a woman to have one date with Clark as an act of mercy to a dying man. To everyone's surprise Clark lived. The woman became his wife, Beverly Clark, and they went on to have six children.

    "The medical prognosis was that Clark could expect to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. But in 1958, after Richard David Armstrong anointed and prayed for him, Clark experienced what doctors called a 'dramatic accelerated remission' of his paralysis. It was not a complete restoration to full body mobility (at Big Sandy he required a walking stick and his movements were slower than normal), but it was an extremely dramatic improvement. Such 'accelerated remissions' in persons with Clark's specific condition have occurred in other cases, though Clark's was unusual in happening after that much delay.

    "In retrospect, how did Clark interpret the events of 1958? Was it a miracle? Did faith play a role? 'Yes, faith played a role, but it wasn't the doing of the organization,' Clark told me. 'They didn't play a role except commercializing it. True faith is not meant to be Disneyland and ann sunshine, but to work through the rain and snow of life. True faith is not a bubble-gum type of atmosphere or carnival show.'"

    Greg Doudna

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    1. Greg Doudna, thank you for sharing your memories of Howard Clark. Whatever the cause of his partial restoration, it was, as you say, an extremely dramatic improvement, and for that I'm very happy. His acceptance of its limitations--and his recognition that some used his story to further their own aims-- illustrates the depth and maturity of his Christian faith. While the description of his doctors' description of his "dramatic accelerated remission" leaves room for my point of view and for his, I certainly respect the faith behind his interpretation.

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