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The Joseph Lewis Story

David Berg challenges the atheist Joseph Lewis with his testimonial of healing by Jesus Christ

By David Brandt Berg, written April 1975
David Berg challenging Joseph Lewis

You don't always know exactly when or how to do it, but the thing to do is just wait for the commanding order, that's all. When the time comes, you'll know when to attack. Like that time I went to Joseph Lewis' anti-God, anti-Bible, anti-Christ, anti-healing meeting in Miami at the Unitarian Church. He was this famous atheist who wrote the book "The Bible Unmasked" and was a multi-million-dollar Miami Beach lawyer always writing things against God and the Bible.

Jack Coe, the healing evangelist, had just been to town and the Lord had His say first, then the Devil stepped in and the Unitarian Church invited this guy Joseph Lewis to have a lecture against faith healers!--Which shows how the Devil hated Jack Coe!

The famous healing evangelist Jack Coe had come to town, put up a big tent and was praying for the sick right and left! It was later proven that this guy Joseph Lewis and his Free Thinkers hired a poor little girl stripper to take her little boy there who was in braces from polio and have him prayed for.

The whole thing was done deliberately as a frame-up because they were going to charge him in court for fraud, quackery and all the things they could pull! So they brought him into court on the charge that praying for the sick was practising medicine without a license.

Well, they never realised what a storm they were going to bring up, because immediately the huge powerful multi-million-dollar church of the Christian Scientists arose and hired big lawyers to fight the case, and nearly every healing evangelist in the United States came down for the case to sympathise and help finance it and raise money for the lawyers. I mean, the courts couldn't hold the crowd! Coe won the case! The judge threw it out for insufficient evidence, particularly when the poor little stripper mama got on the witness stand. The defence lawyer proved that she had been paid by Joseph Lewis himself to take her boy there to have him prayed for and then claim that he wasn't healed! The minute the judge heard that, he threw the case out of court! He said, "No case!"

One of our students in our little school there in Miami heard about the Joseph lewis lecture and said, "Jack Coe left and a horrible atheist who's fighting the Bible in the public schools and all that sort of thing is going to be at the Unitarian Church tonight speaking against healing and against the Bible!"

They said, "We ought to do something, dad! We ought to get out there and really witness outside of that church and really pass out tracts and really demonstrate and picket!" I said, "Well, maybe so, maybe no, I don't know! I'll have to pray about it. You might get in trouble, they might arrest you like they did Josh that time, saying he was disturbing the peace. I'll just have to pray about it."

So after I prayed about it, I felt the Lord would have me and the strongest men go, the strongest students, real fighters for the Lord! I figured 12 was a good number, like the 12 Apostles, so I chose 12 of my best men and said, "I don't know what we're going to do, but let's go!"

It was quite late and we didn't get there till the guy was half done--everybody was inside and nobody outside--so what could we do? We couldn't pass tracts outside, there was nobody there, so it was settled that that wasn't what we were supposed to do!

So I said, "Well, maybe we're supposed to go inside! Come on, let's go in." But first I gave them a lecture, "Now boys, listen! You follow my signal and don't you do a thing until you see me act, not a thing! I don't know what God's going to do. We may just sit there and listen to it and be educated and leave, I don't know, but don't do anything unless I do something. When you see me act, then you'll get the cue and you'll know what to do!"

So we walked in and there in the foyer was this woman counting her tickets and the money who said, "That'll be 50 cents each, please. Of course, you're awful late!" I said, "50 cents each! I wouldn't give you a plug nickel to hear this guy!" She laughed and thought it was funny and said, "Oh well, he's already half-done anyway, so why don't you go in." So here the 13 of us, six-and-a-half dollars worth, walked right in free of charge! And I'm telling you, we were pretty poor in those days and that was a lot of money!

Anyway, he was blasting away at the Bible and using dirty language and calling Jesus an S.O.B. and all kinds of filthy stuff, that Mary had been running around and blah blah blah!--I mean, as blasphemous and as dirty and as vile as you could get! This foul-mouthed old Jew was atheist, anti-Christ, anti-Bible, anti everything, except the Devil! And it made me so mad, it made me so sick I wanted to start screaming and blasting away! But the Lord said "not yet" and just kept me sitting there.

I said, "Now lord, you've gotta tell me when! I don't know what to do, I don't know what to say!" It's against the law, you know, and you can get thrown in jail almost anywhere in the South and California too for disturbing a religious meeting, interrupting a speaker or heckling. So I said, "Well, Lord, I don't want to do anything I shouldn't do and just get us all in trouble, because whatever I start doing the boys are going to do. So Lord, You just let me know and I'll just wait for Your signal."

So Lewis kept on blasting away and it made me so mad I was tempted to get up and jump the gun and start shooting!--But I didn't. He kept droning on and I almost felt like shutting my ears, I didn't want to hear all that filth! Then all of a sudden he said, "Nobody's ever been healed in the Name of Jesus Christ, it's all a lie! If there's anybody here tonight that's ever been healed in the Name of Jesus Christ, I challenge you to stand up!" That's all he had to say! It was like saying "sic'm" to a dog!

I leaped to my feet and I said, "I've been healed in the Name of Jesus Christ!"--And I started firing away my testimony!: "I was in the Army hospital and the doctors gave me up and said I wouldn't live at all, they thought I was going to die, and even when they sent me home they said I wouldn't live a year, I've got the Army records to prove it!"--And I started giving the whole history!

The whole audience was immediately all astir, and it turned out that a lot of them were there for the same reason we were and I was hearing all these "amens"! Of course, my gang was saying, "Amen! Hallelujah! Preach it, Brother!" But I think that really the atheists were outnumbered because everybody who believed in miracles and healing were there--anybody who had any guts and didn't like this guy and was trying to do something.

So we led the way, we started it off, and there was such a furor! The speaker, Mr. Lewis, this diabolical Jewish lawyer--he wasn't even a good Jew because he didn't believe in God--he just suddenly looked absolutely flabbergasted! Apparently he was throwing out a rhetorical challenge and didn't really expect anybody to get up and take him up on it! So there was such a commotion and furor, he just stopped talking!

The whole audience was in a hubbub! Some were egging me on and others were screaming, "Shut up! Sit down! Let him finish his talk!"--Because the Devil was really mad too! So the MC had to get up and start pounding and pounding and pounding and pounding his gavel: "Quiet! Order! Order! Let Mr. Lewis continue his speech! When the meeting is through there is going to be a question and answer period and you can ask your questions then." I said, "Is that a promise?" He said, "Yes." I said, "Okay!" and I sat down.

Well, he only talked for about five or ten minutes more, he just acted like he was absolutely flabbergasted! I mean, the Devil had everything his way, but all of a sudden he was challenged and he was just reeling back! Finally Lewis kind of weakly and lamely ended his whole diatribe and just kind of trailed off to where his voice even got faint and he went white as a ghost! He was a big red-faced burly guy, but he sort of staggered back to his seat on the platform and hunched over holding onto his heart. Then we saw the Moderator go over and speak to him and they were whispering to each other on the platform, and we wondered what was going to happen next.

We figured, of course, it was question and answer period, so I leaped to my feet again and I said, "He challenged that nobody's ever been healed in the Name of Jesus Christ, I want to give you my testimony that I was healed in the Name of Jesus Christ!"--And I went on and on and on as fast as I could because I didn't know how much I was going to get to say! "I have documentary evidence to prove it because I've got hospital records in the governmental hospital that I was sick and dying with heart trouble and double pneumonia and a fever of 106! The doctor said I was dying!"--and I gave my testimony, the whole thing! It took me about 10 or 15 minutes.

So the moderator began pounding his gavel again, boom, boom, boom! "That's enough! You've had your say, that's enough out of you! Somebody else, please, somebody else!" In the meantime, old Lewis was sitting on the chair back there holding his heart. I wasn't asking him any questions because what could we find out from him?--Just lies!--So we just gave testimonies.

All my boys then began popping up giving testimonies of healing, one after the other until the Moderator apparently kind of got the point that we were a group.--Probably because we were kind of sitting together, which is one mistake we made. So the Moderator said, "That's enough out of your group! Let's listen to somebody else."

But Mr. Lewis didn't get up, and he didn't answer, he just sat there looking like death itself! He had a handkerchief hanging in front of him mopping his brow and was hunched over holding onto his heart. The Moderator had been mostly concerned with the audience because the audience was raising such a stir, but he looked around at Mr. Lewis and he looked like he was amazed! Mr. Lewis was still sitting there hunched over and holding his head and his heart.

He never said a word after I got up and challenged him the second time, in fact, right after I got up and challenged him the first time he began clutching his heart and closed his speech and sat down! He had a little problem with apoplexy or something like that, he said, kind of a heart trouble or stroke. I mean, you just challenge the Devil, just resist the Devil and he'll flee from you! (Jam.4:7)

So the moderator walked back over to him, they whispered a little bit together, and he came back to the podium and said, "I'm very sorry but Mr. Lewis does not feel well and does not care to answer any more questions."--He hadn't answered one or even gotten up since he squeaked off!--"The meeting is dismissed!"

Then this really raised a furor because all these other people who wanted to testify for healing didn't get to testify, and they began jumping up and saying, "That's not fair! That's not right! I didn't get to give my testimony! I didn't tell you how God healed me!"

So afterward the moderator finally rushed up, plowed his way through the crowd--I mean, they were really crowded around us! He shook my hand and said, "Ah, that was great! You know, we Free Thinkers, we're open-minded and we always like to hear everybody's opinion, all sides of the question."--These old two-faced hypocrites!--He said, "I think this will just really be great, I think it would get a big crowd! I'd like to ask you if you'd be willing to debate Mr. Lewis next Thursday night."

I thought about it and prayed a moment and said, "Sure! Why not?"--I'd already had a debate with him! He said, "Good! I'll fix it up! We pay $100 a night for our special speakers." And for us and our poor little Bible school that sounded like a lot of money! He said, "We'll have a debate and this will really be terrific! We'll really get a crowd!" He was like a showman and you could tell all he was interested in was getting a crowd--like most church folks!

I thought a minute, prayed about it, and thought, "If it's going to get this much attention, this much publicity, well, praise GOD!" I knew it was going to be in the paper now because all the reporters were going to take it down, so I thought, "Well, that'll give us another chance to get in the paper!" So I said, "Well sure, I'd be glad to!" And he said, "All right, I'll go up there to Mr. Lewis right now and see if it's okay with him." And the people were still giving congratulations and there was all this excitement and talking and they were gradually beginning to drift out of the so-called church. (Unitarians are Modernists!)

And by and by after a big long time, Lewis was still sitting there mopping his brow and holding his heart and acting like he was really sick. I was casting an eye up there once in awhile and the Moderator was bent over him talking and talking away. You could tell he was trying to sell him a bill of goods. Of course, I knew what the Moderator was thinking about, all those 50-cent pieces the next forum night!

But the moderator came back to me all crestfallen and disappointed and looking so sad. He said, "Well, I just don't understand it, Reverend So-and-So, but Mr. Lewis just refuses to debate with you! I don't know why, I told him I thought it would be very good and we'd have a good crowd and a chance to really have a lot of people"--that's what the preachers love, you know, and to make a lot of money--"but he just refuses to debate with you! He's very very sick and he doesn't even want to see you."

I said, "Well i'm so sorry to hear that he's sick, maybe I should come up and pray for him!" The Moderator said, "Oh no, no, no! I don't think he would like that!" I said, "Well, I'll just go up, at least, and shake his hand and let him know I'm sorry he doesn't feel well and I'm sorry if I upset him or anything." You know, you've even got to give the Devil his due!

I really was sorry for him in a way because I thought, "Boy, that poor guy, he really looks like he's ready to keel over! He looks like he's dying of a heart attack!" I had heart trouble and I knew how bad it was. So in spite of the Moderator's protests I climbed up on the platform and walked over to Mr. Lewis.

But I hadn't gotten six feet from him when he said, "Go away, go away, go away! I don't want to talk to you! Get away!" It was just like the Devil himself! He couldn't even stand for me to get close to him! And the Moderator looked absolutely shocked! He looked at him and looked at me and said, "I don't know what's the matter with him but I think you'd better go! He doesn't seem to like you."--Ha!

So I just yelled anyhow, "Mr. lewis, I'm very sorry, but you know, Jesus can help you if you'll just pray! God can heal you!" And he just practically screamed, "Go away! Go away!" I mean, it sounded like the Devil himself the way he just sort of squeaked it out like a fiend! And I looked at the Moderator and I just said, "Well, I guess that's all I can do, I tried to help him"--and I walked off the platform. The boys were all waiting for me and some of the folks were congratulating us and patting us on the back and everything.

So now you know how important it is to wait on the Lord! When the Lord says, "Go!", then attack! When He says "Now!", then start shooting! And so we did and the Lord won the victory and it was all in the paper the next day with all the pictures and everything! It was a big article in the paper.

Copyright © 1998 by The Family International

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James Arendt
James Arendt

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