I’m not sure I can properly express what a HUGE DEAL this post is to me. It started off benign enough… my Facebook feed was full of the video clip below. All the people I used to go to church with are excited because one of their own, an evangelist named Rev. Lee Stoneking, spoke before the United Nations.
I started this post with the intention of pointing out what it means to them – that even though the place was mostly empty and most of the people seem to be either boredly listening or ignoring him completely, that the TRUTH OF GOD has been PROCLAIMED to the UN. They want everyone to share the hell out of this video because they think it will accomplish something that he gives a testimony and reads their most favorite bible verse.
But as I started working, I got curious about the story he tells. And the more I dug (it didn’t take a lot, mind you) the more holes I found. By the time I was done, the only conclusion I can come to is that this man – who lives off the donations of people like my widowed Mother In Law, who “sacrificially give” whenever he preaches anywhere – has at best wildly exaggerated the story he’s been living on for more than a decade now.
Who Is Rev. Lee Stoneking?
For those of you not familiar with the United Pentecostal Church, let me explain. Preachers are rock stars. They’re better than the rest of the lowly “saints” who support their sometimes extravagant lifestyles with their tithe and offering money. Lee Stoneking is a rock-star-among-rock-stars. He is an Evangelist, which means doesn’t stay in one place and preach to a single church every week, he travels all over the world. If preachers are rock stars, Lee Stoneking is Elvis and The Beatles. Everyone in the UPC knows his name and if your church is big and important enough (or if you’ve spent money to go to a big enough conference) you’ve heard him in person. This guy is Royalty in the UPC.
He visited my church several times. He’s one of those guys who push miracles, story after story of this person or that person being healed or raised from the dead etc. Thats sort of his thing, he’s a “miracles guy.” These stories are one of those things that keep the believers believing. You think, obviously this whole doctrine must be true, look what God can do! It never occurs to you that miracles of healing happen in other denominations, or that they happen for Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and even Pagans throughout the centuries. You just believe that God is proving Truth by flexing His muscles.
It also really doesn’t hurt when the offering plate comes by for people to be so worked up. And apparently it also sells books, as I see Rev. Stoneking has made this story into a book as well.
So Here’s The Story:
Somehow or another, Rev. Stoneking got an invite to speak before the UN this week. Here is the video of his speech (its less than 7 minutes total) and he tells QUITE a story:
Several things to note:
1 – I can tell he has given this speech word for word in church after church around the world. I can even tell there are a few places he’s used to pausing for extended applause.
2. Note he says here that he was “clinically dead” for 45 minutes. Paramedics shocked his heart 10 times to bring him back. Of course they get no credit for his “resurrection.”
3. The paramedic said that every time they shocked him, his heart would beat a few times then stop.
4. The “paperwork was finished.” With him lying there on the stretcher the paramedics apparently had time to do paperwork and declare he was going to still be DOA when they made it to the hospital.
5. Blood was coagulated in his hands, arms feet and legs.
6. “Jesus stepped on board” the ambulance – this is no doubt one of his bigger applause lines – and he was healed/ raised from the dead in the ambulance.
But His Website Tells The Story Differently
According to “My Miracle Of Life And Deliverance” on Rev. Stoneking’s website:
“Nigel, an ambulance officer, responded to the airport call for help. Along with another officer with him and a paramedic who arrived shortly, they began to work for my recovery. After thirty minutes during which time there was no heartbeat nor breathing at all; suddenly my heart and breathing began to function. I was taken to the hospital.” (Emphasis mine.)
No heartbeat or breathing at all, 30 minutes instead of 45, and he woke up there in the airport before getting on the ambulance. It seems Rev. Stoneking’s “miracle” is one of those stories that get better the more it’s told.
Those are just the facts he can’t agree with himself on. Besides the idea of the paperwork being dramatically filled out right there in the bustling Sydney Airport while Stoneking lay decomposing on a stretcher, there are other parts of this story that are just plain wrong.
Other “Facts” That Don’t Stand Up To Scrutiny
“The blood was coagulated in my hands, my arms, my feet and my legs.” Dramatic, huh? Lividity was starting to set! Call the folks from CSI… Well, according to forensicpathologyonline.com, blood coagulation begins immediately upon death but isn’t noticeable until 30 minutes to an hour later. OK so far the story is still plausible. Except for this:
“In a body lying on its back, it first appears in the neck, then spreads over the entire back, with the exception of the parts directly pressed on, i.e. occipital scalp, calves and heels.”
So if Stoneking WERE really dead and the blood was really starting to coagulate, it wasn’t doing so in his hands, arms, legs and feet. That would only happen if he was decomposing standing up.
“God removed the genetic marker for heart disease.” First of all, what Rev. Stoneking describes is a cardiac arrest, not a heart attack. There is a difference. According to the Mayo Clinic:
A heart attack differs from a condition in which your heart suddenly stops (sudden cardiac arrest, which occurs when an electrical disturbance disrupts your heart’s pumping action and causes blood to stop flowing to the rest of your body). A heart attack can cause cardiac arrest, but it’s not the only cause.
On his website, Rev. Stoneking says that one minute he was walking in the airport, looking up at the screens, and the next thing he remembers is waking up in the hospital. No chest pain, shortness of breath, etc. He just fell over out of the blue. This is the electrical disturbance type of cardiac arrest (also known as Ventricular Fibrillation as mentioned below), and it is not always attributable to heart disease.
Second of all, in 2004 when Stoneking had his DNA tested, there were 5 different genetic markers associated with myocardial infarction, and a dozen for heart disease in general. 13 new genetic markers for heart disease were discovered in 2011. So even IF Rev. Stoneking had been “healed of heart disease” the fact that ONE genetic marker for it is missing from his DNA is not a miracle by any stretch.
“After 6 minutes of no oxygen to the brain, there is irreparable brain damage.” That statement may be technically true, but there is no proof that Rev. Stoneking went over 6 minutes, much less 30 or 45 with no oxygen to the brain. Just google the term “declared dead” and you’ll find all kinds of stories of people doctors thought were dead who suddenly wake up in body bags or in the funeral home. It’s hard for paramedics to tell for absolutely certain that you’re not getting ANY oxygen to the brain, etc. That’s why they take you to the hospital, even if you are DOA, instead of straight to the morgue.
At the very least, Rev. Stoneking is guilty of gross exaggeration. But beyond the fact that he really did have a heart attack and spend time in a hospital in Australia in 2003, how do we know the rest of the story isn’t completely made up? I have to admit I NEVER would have wondered that even a year ago. I never would have questioned “Brother” Stoneking’s sincerity or honesty. But considering all of the above.. well…
Rev. Stoneking’s “Proof” Of His Story
Of course, anyone with a brain has to know there are going to be skeptics of a story like this. And if you’re going to make it the cornerstone of your ministry for a decade or more (he was quite successful before this, mind you – but this did take him to a new level) then you need some proof. Right?
Well, there is an “Official Medical Report” posted on the “My Miracle” page of Stoneking’s website. But while it claims to be an “Official Medical Report,” it’s clearly anything but.
For starters, the first line says, “On November 12, 2003, Brother Stoneking suffered a cardiac arrest due to a massive heart attack.” No official medical document refers to you by the title “Brother.” This “Official” report is signed by Dr. Jeff Young, Jr, who is clearly not an objective observer. He appears to be Rev. Stoneking’s regular Physician and – due to the repeated use of the term “Brother” – it’s likely he, too is a member of the UPC.
Dr. Young was not present for the actual event, nor does it seem he traveled to Australia to care for Rev. Stoneking. What he gives therefore cannot justly be called an “Official Medical Report” of this event. That would need to come from the physician who actually treated Rev. Stoneking when all this happened. It would come on letterhead of the hospital in which Rev. Stoneking was treated. So what we have here is merely medical opinion provided by Stoneking’s regular doctor.
It seems that an actual report from the attending physician does exist, as Dr. Young quotes from it. Why not publish the actual medical report if it backs up your story? My guess is because it doesn’t. And quite frankly, this opinion being labeled an “Official Medical Report” makes me doubt the story even more. That was before I realized the quote Dr. Young uses from the attending physician actually undermines the whole story. The quote Dr. Young uses in his “report” says:
“Even with intubation (a breathing tube in place), paramedic CPR and repeated cardioversions (shocks to the heart—ten total shocks! ), a stable rhythm (heartbeat) and output (circulation) was not gained for thirty minutes.”
The words in parenthesis are Dr. Young’s explanations. But get this… there was a breathing tube in place. I thought there was 45 minutes of Oxygen deprivation? Or at least 30. Remember, the website version of the story says “No heartbeat or breathing at all.” Maybe he wasn’t breathing on his own, but there was breathing being done for him. Also, the attending physician says that a STABLE output was not gained for thirty minutes. Not NO output.
At this point I should mention that I’m not a doctor and perhaps I’m misunderstanding medical terminology? Does not having a “stable rhythm and output” mean NO heartbeat/ circulation or does it mean one is there but it’s too weak or unstable to keep you alive? It sounds to me like the second. But if I am wrong I do hope someone will point this out.
Still, think about this logically. The paramedics in Australia didn’t know who this man was – he was just another traveler to them. Why did they shock him 10 times? Why would you shock anyone 10 times if the first 3 or 4 aren’t working? That makes no sense. There had to be something to cause them to continue shocking him after the standard 4 times. (Assuming that he really was defibrillated 10 times and that this, too, isn’t another exaggeration.)
Could it be that what Rev. Stoneking experienced wasn’t a stopped heart that knocked him flat on his back and didn’t start back up again for 45 minutes, but a more typical-sounding heart attack? It seems much more likely that Stoneking’s heart attack caused his heart to stop not once for 45 minutes, but a few separate times. Each time a series of 2-3 shocks were given that started it back up for a brief period, then it would stop again until finally the paramedics were able to stabilize him enough to get him to the hospital.
Yes, he’s lucky to be alive. The miracle here isn’t that “Jesus stepped onto an ambulance” but that paramedics got to him with a defibrillator in time. It seems to me the version he tells in this video shortchanges the heroic efforts of the humans who worked so hard to save him. Of course if he told the unvarnished truth, he’d still have a dramatic story – just not one he could grow his ministry on.
Can We Really Call This Lying?
Yes, we can. Know why?
You see, there’s this Bible verse that says “All liars will have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” Back in the day there was this huge movement – someone wrote a booklet or sermon, I don’t remember how it started now, but I remember reading it – saying ALL means ALL. ANY lie counts. If someone asks you how you’re doing and you feel sick but you say “fine” you’re lying and you’re going to Hell.
So yeah, I think we can say claiming you were “clinically dead for 45 minutes” when in reality you were on a breathing tube for 30 counts as a lie. Saying Jesus stepped onto an ambulance to heal you when in fact you were stabilized before getting on the ambulance is a lie. Claiming you are a miracle because THE genetic marker for heart disease isn’t present in your DNA when there are literally dozens of possible such markers is a lie. Claiming the blood had coagulated in your hands, arms, feet and legs when blood doesn’t do that is a lie.
And yes, I’m beating a dead horse. If anyone from the UPC reads this, it will take a mountain of evidence to make them look at it remotely objectively. I’ve been out for several years and it shocked the hell out of me today. If you’re not from this type of background and you’ve read this far – I wish you could understand how big of a deal this is. These people, this man in particular, are supposed to be above reproach. Above criticism. And he went before the United Nations today – which is supposed to be a huge victory for the whole organization – and lied.