Jennifer Shanahan believes God still heals through the touch of others.
She is confident that she experienced that kind of healing via prayer and a touch from Dr. Issam Nemeh, the Cleveland-area cardio-thoracic anesthesiologist who draws thousand to faith-healing services around the nation.
“There were healings in the Bible, so why wouldn’t they be happening now?” said Shanahan, 32, of Kent. “Miracles still happen and we are seeing some of those miracles happen through the prayers of Dr. Nemeh and his connectedness to God.”
Nemeh, 58, will present a talk and healing service at 10 a.m., Feb. 17 at the Barrette Business and Community Center on the Walsh University campus, 2020 E. Maple St., North Canton. Since his last visit to the area two years ago, Nemeh has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show and the 700 Club.
Nemeh, who lives in Westlake and has a medical office in Rocky River, is quick to explain that he is not a healer. He describes himself as having “a gift of faith” and says only God heals.
“What I bring is a message of hope and love. Healing translates from a spiritual level, which is invisible, to a physical level, which can be seen and measured,” Nemeh said. “We witness a lot of healing every day. The message is that Jesus is with us today, just like he promised us. We have a living hope in God.”
Nemeh, who is Roman Catholic, said the healing is available to people of all faiths as well as those who have no faith. He is hopeful that the documentation of what God is doing through him will help bridge the gap between science and spirituality.
When he appeared on the Dr. Oz Show in 2011, Nemeh was joined by two women from Northeast Ohio who talked about their healing experiences.
Kathy Kuack, of North Olmsted, shared that a lesion on her lung disappeared after a session with Nemeh at his medical office. She said before praying with Nemeh, doctors told her that at least part of her lung would have to be removed.
Dr. Patricia Kaine, a family practitioner in Cleveland, said she was cured of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (a scarring of the lungs) after several visits with Nemeh, from 2000 to 2003. She said her condition, diagnosed in 1995, was incurable and her life expectancy was five years.
The show also featured independent physicians, including Dr. Jeffrey D. Rediger. Rediger, an instructor at Harvard Medical School and medical director at McLean Hospital Southeast, a Harvard Medical School affiliate, in Cambridge, Mass., has since researched some of Nemeh’s cases.
Rediger said that what he has seen shows “absolute, clear, undisputable evidence that an illness was present and then clear, objective evidence that the illness is now gone or sharply changed in some way for the better,” after prayers from Nemeh.
Rediger added that in his years of studying the connection between spiritual and medical matters, he has found that “there are a lot of scams and snake oil salesmen out there, but Dr. Nemeh is not one of them.”
Shanahan said she is sure that there are a lot of people who question the power of prayer in healing, but she remains strong in her belief that God is working through Nemeh. A wife and mother of three children ranging in age from 4 to 8 years old, said she was healed of spondylolysis (a defect of a vertebra in the spinal column) via Nemeh.
“I always had back and feet problems. I used to wear a back brace and orthotic shoes. When I went to see Dr. Nemeh, my back and feet were like putty and he reshaped them,” Shanahan said. “I remember feeling so much better, after he finished. I told him ‘I’m going shoe shopping tomorrow!’ ”
Shanahan made a subsequent visit to Nemeh, after her 4-year-old daughter was born because she was experiencing severe spinal headaches that prevented her from sitting up to nurse her baby.
“As he began to pray, it felt like something was being pulled from my back. It was like a magician pulling out those colorful handkerchiefs and they floated up in the air,” Shanahan said. “This is very real. I know there are ‘doubting Thomases’ out there but I know God is working through him.”
Nemeh, a Syrian native, completed medical school in Poland and came to the United States in 1982. He served for several years as chief anesthesiologist at Richmond Heights Hospital and with the disbanded Oaktree Physicians group at Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights.
He makes his livelihood in private practice. Before appearing on national television, his healing services were basically conducted at Cleveland-area churches (most of them Roman Catholic). Now, he appears at venues throughout the nation, including churches and hotels, where people continue to line up for hours, waiting for a touch and a prayer.
Cleveland diocesan officials neither authenticate nor dispute any healing attributed to Nemeh. The diocese issued the following statement:
“Healing, as understood by the Catholic Faith is based on the premise that prayer doesn’t heal; only God heals. Done properly, those involved in such healing services must do so in the context of legitimate spirituality which means they are not looking for any sensationalism, for personal praise, reward, or adulation. Participation is based on their faith commitment and the belief that God can heal. The diocese does not endorse [Dr. Issam Nemeh] and does not have objections to his services at this time.”
During the services, Nemeh ministers with a prayer team that includes his wife, Kathy. Every person in attendance is prayed for individually.
Before national television, tickets were used for crowd control – limiting a set number of people to an allotted time frame. Now, prices are attached to tickets to help pay travel expenses and rental costs of venues.
Kathy Nemeh said although they agonized over charging people for tickets, they determined that it was necessary.
“We could simply no longer afford to pay for the traveling expenses of the team and venue costs out of our pocket,” Kathy Nemeh said. “With all of the traveling, trying to be accessible to as many people who want to see [Dr. Nemeh] as possible, his office hours have been limited, so his income decreased. And we were spending more money on things like meals and hotel rooms for our prayer team.”
Tickets for the upcoming event at Walsh University are $95 and can be purchased at www.pathtofaith.com.
Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or firstname.lastname@example.org