On the surface, the event at Maurie Jacobs Park last week seemed just like any other of the myriad of summer celebrations in Eugene. Dancing, eating and laughing, people socialized and greeted onlookers with a smile. Some perused a variety of booths at the back of the park, while others sang near the stage on the hill. But at Supernatural Fest, according to Mark and Victoria Bowling’s website USAforChrist.com, “It is a regular occurrence in Mark and Victoria’s meetings to experience the supernatural healing power of God. The lame walk. The deaf hear. The blind see.”
Later, the noise died down, and then silence, save for a prayer delivered by Mark Bowling and a light piano melody. Spatterings of “amen” and “hallelujah” responses were heard from around the park.
“If you can believe, all things are possible,” Bowling said. And the faith healing began.
A few made their way to the front. Then more. A woman supported by canes on either arm was among many who do believe. As she approached the front, a few with badges around their necks surrounded her and reached out their hands.
A few minutes later, the woman rose to her feet, slowly at first. She took a step. Then another one. The family members that came with her were in tears. After 20 minutes she walked off too far to see. Her canes were left on the ground.
July 8-13 was the first year for Supernatural Fest, the healing gathering of 21 different churches from around the Eugene area.
Unlike most festivals, nothing here costs money. The free food and music are available to all, and “the supernatural healing power of God” is available to “those with faith who ask.”
Around 3,000 meals were served throughout the week and booths for prayer and counseling were attended by many of those. Others just came to socialize.
But many came for healing, like Jeff Carpenter, who rose from his chair quickly when approached: a common act for most, but not for those who have multiple sclerosis. According to Carpenter, walking without a cane has not been possible for the last 20 years.
“For the first time in a long time I went shopping without needing a scooter. I’ve been so excited I think I only slept three hours in the last two days,” Carpenter said.
Greg Rundo, an event volunteer and fellow healing recipient, pointed down. “Your feet! Your toes were not straight the other night. They were like this,” he said as he made a loose, gnarled fist.
Rundo himself came forward because of pain in his knees. Now, he can squat up and down. “Two days ago, I couldn’t do that. There was no cartilage left in my knees,” he said. He jogged across a field to say hello to one of the new friends he made this week. In total, 75 testimonials of healing came throughout the week.
Although healing and food are main focuses, the festival exists “primarily to see people saved,” Bowling said.
Despite the nature of the event, the gathering generated little controversy. “We’ve had a few hecklers, but you know what? They keep coming back,” Bowling said. A smile spread across his face. “We feed them and sometimes they stay to listen.”