April 20, 2001

The Exorcist
by Maryvonne Gray

Pastor Mike Connell is said to be one of the world's leading ministers of deliverance and healing, and regularly travels the globe to practise.

He has just got back from Taiwan, which, he says, has "significant problems" with demonic possessions--as do many Asian countries.

He says: "No one has a lot of experience with it there so it's not uncommon for people to react extremely to me.

"Sometimes people fall on the ground, yell out in the meeting, or try and jump out of windows."

He's had several people say they want to kill him. "With some it's like you're looking at a snake and they slither down the room knocking chairs over.

"Others crawl on the ground like a lizard or try to crawl up the wall. I have seen unusual strength--someone picking up a chair and pulling it apart with their bare hands or crushing an apple."

The most violent confrontations tend to be when people have dabbled in the occult.

He says the possessed people seem to go into another state of mind. "It's like they've gone into the background but something else is reacting.

"When the evil spirit manifests you know you're dealing with it just from the cold, pure hatred in their eyes."

This is usually when the death threats occur. And although they might be in foreign lands such as Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore, language is no barrier either. The spirit understands.

The recent death of an Auckland Korean woman during an exorcism was due to lack of experience, Connell says.

Some possessions are manifested as sickness. "In Taiwan recently there was a man who hadn't walked for eight years without the aid of a walker.

"After we prayed for him, he walked--albeit with assistance at first. But over the two days he improved significantly."

The most moving cases involve children, says Connell.

"There was a New Zealand three-year-old who would wake up every morning and destroy everything in his room," he recalls.

"After checking, it turned out one of his parents had a significant involvement in drugs and other things.

"I waited for the child to fall asleep then took the parents with me and explained things before praying for the little boy.

Totally Changed

"He sighed and yawned even though he was still asleep, but when he woke up the result was immediate. The next day he was totally changed. That's when it is quite moving, when little children are delivered."

Despite the popularity in New Zealand of the recent rerelease of the 70s film The Exorcist, Western cultures always dismiss the importance of the spiritual world, he says.

The father of seven believes he has no particularly "special" qualities. But his healing reputation has spread far and wide overseas and at home through word of mouth.

Not everyone could do the job, he says. And it is very hard work.

"It's involved and demanding in every kind of way, emotionally and physically draining. So I make it clear I need to be properly rested."

For this, Connell goes on Pastor's Days, run by fellow pentecostal pastor Brent Douglas. These are aimed at protecting the pastors from emotional and spiritual damage.

Douglas speaks highly of Connell. "He is probably one of the world's top deliverance and healing ministers dealing with inner hurts, satanic, sexual or ritual abuse--all the emotional stuff."

Connell was introduced to these evil forces 25 years ago during his religious training.

"I encountered some young people involved in the occult who were quite troubled. We also had a house that had weird things going on in it, like footsteps at night and doors banging."

Over the past 10 years he has helped hundreds, if not thousands, of people, he says.

"People here are sending their kids because they're suicidal or have behavioural problems at home, some because of abuse. Or when people have had a relationship upheaval. Or occult practices where they make direct contact with evil spirits."

He says: "It can be quite scary really."



Charismatic Faith Healer: Mike Connell says the most moving cases of possession involve children.

Deliverance: Mike found his calling after helping youths involved with the occult.