This may surprise some readers, but we have seen consistently positive results when using the Immanuel approach with any non-Christians who are willing to try it. In fact, willingness to try it seems to be the only prerequisite.
When discussing the option of using the Immanuel approach with someone who is not yet a Christian, I explain what would be involved and then offer an invitation along the lines of,
“You don’t have to agree with me, and you don’t have to believe this stuff, but would you be willing to try it? Would you be willing to let me pray in this way, let Jesus be with you (if He actually exists), and then simply describe whatever happens?”
Initially I didn’t know what to expect, but I decided to go ahead and try it and I’ve been thrilled with the results. Almost every non-Christian who has been willing to “just go ahead and try it” has eventually been able to perceive the Lord’s presence and experience some kind of positive interaction with him.
We now have a number of stories in which people were willing to try the Immanuel approach, even though they were not yet Christians, and then decided to give their lives to the Lord after having powerful, beautiful encounters with Jesus in the context of the emotional healing session.
For example, our colleague, Dr. E. James Wilder, has just gotten back from a country in Asia that is recovering from 25 years of civil war and from massive trauma from the 2008 tsunami. Charlotte and I had the privilege of spending an evening with him to hear about the trip, and his report was very encouraging. Jim spent a week with a team of 45 ministers, mental health professionals, and lay people, training them in the use of the Immanuel approach, and one of the most exciting aspects of his training was that he was able to teach the participants how to use the Immanuel approach in group settings. The core of Jim’s teaching program was to repeatedly take the trainees through the group exercises themselves, and from the first day the participants began receiving healing in their own lives as they “practiced.” By the middle of the week every single person was connecting with Jesus and receiving healing each time the group went through the exercises, and by the end of the week every participant had received healing for a number of different traumatic memories. And, it just so happened that two of the people attending this training seminar were non-Christians (they had been required to attend by their employers, who figured that Dr. Wilder, as a western Ph.D. psychologist, might provide valuable information regarding treatment for post traumatic stress disorder). However, even though they were not Christians they were still willing to try the exercises; and by the end of the week both of them had experienced the Lord’s living, personal, Immanuel presence, received healing from Him, and decided to follow Him.
A similar scenario during our May 2009 seminar in Panama provides another example. A non-Christian mental health professional found one of the flyers for the seminar, and probably decided to attend because he thought that my lectures on psychological trauma and implicit memory would be valuable, regardless of my explicitly Christian perspective. However, even though he was not a Christian he was still willing to participate in the Immanuel approach group exercise that we included at the end of the seminar. And he was astonished by the results – he experienced God as a loving Father for the first time in his life, he went to several traumatic memories and received profound healing in each of them, and then he ended the exercise by deciding to follow the Lord.
Rhonda and Danny Calhoun, friends of ours and co-directors of Our Father’s Farm ministry near Kansas City, have also observed this same phenomena. They routinely use the Immanuel approach, and recently shared with us about their experiences with Sarah and Claire. Sarah came to them at the age of 13, almost totally disabled by lingering effects of the horrible trauma she had endured. Thankfully, she responds well to work with the Immanuel approach, and has received transformative healing through a series of beautiful, gentle interactions with Jesus. By the time she was 15 she was thriving instead of barely surviving, and this is where the Immanuel approach and non-Christians come in. Her friend and next door neighbor, 12 year-old Claire, was a deeply troubled non-Christian girl who regularly cut herself. One day Claire came to Sarah, intensely upset, asking for help, and saying that she was going to cut herself. Sarah didn’t know what to do, so she invited the Lord to be with her, she was able to perceive Jesus’ presence and refresh her interactive connection with Him, and then she asked Him for help. In response, she felt like the Lord said: “Bring Claire to Me, like Rhonda does with you.”
So 15 year-old Sarah invited 12 year old Claire to try Immanuel prayer, and even though Claire wasn’t a Christian, she was still willing to try it. She promptly experienced what she describes as “Close encounters of the Jesus kind” – she had a mental image of Jesus standing in front of her, He told her that He had been cut so that she would not have to be cut, He showed her the marks on His body, and then He went on to say, “You’ve always wanted a family…would you like to be part of My family?” She said yes. Sarah and Claire didn’t take time to discuss theology, but I think this qualifies for becoming a Christian, since Claire has been talking to Jesus regularly and following Him openly since this initial encounter. Furthermore, Claire hasn’t cut herself, or had the urge to do so, since that day in the summer of 2009.
Another phenomenon that we have observed with respect to non-Christians is that many of them have chosen to turn away from Jesus in response to traumatic experiences with Christians/Christianity. The good news is that when we identify this history and help them resolve it, they often embrace Jesus gladly. As I write this, I’m working with two people who are having exactly this experience. In a recent Immanuel approach session with one of these people, he commented spontaneously, “Everything that has felt true about God, for my whole life, . . . [describes many details, all negative] – it’s totally different than what I’m experiencing with the Jesus I’m encountering in these prayer sessions, . . . [describes many details, all positive].” At the end of another recent session, he popped out with, “Wow! This is actually good news!”