Last year well known US evangelist and healer Robby Dawkins was complaining that American Airlines wouldn’t allow him to resurrect a dead person.
The author of ‘Do What Jesus Did’ believes Christians are able through the power of the Holy Spirit to raise the dead. Despite reporting being involved in many healings and miraculous event around the world, until recently, Dawkins had never witnessed a resurrection .
The preacher’s chance to have a go at raising the dead finally came in a little English village earlier this year. The events took place in Inglewhite Church, Lancaster where Dawkins was invited to minister in March.
As Dawkins began to preach Matt Catlow’s face contorted and his hands withered up. Matt’s mother immediately called for help and Dawkins ran over to pray. He says: “I rushed over to him, putting my hand on his chest and forehead and began to bind demonic power and command the body to be loosed in Jesus’ name.”
Despite the evangelist’s continued prayers, Mr Catlow's pupils dilated and he stopped breathing, turning blue.
“I began to declare the resurrection life of Jesus Christ over him…I could hear his breathing start to recover and his colour starting to return.”
Did God really raise this man back to life? Dawkins is adamant, saying, ‘Matt died and came back as a result of prayer’, and wrote about the event on his Facebook page. Dawkins also posted a note by a doctor present at the meeting testifying that Catlow died and came back to life. Dawkins even visited Catlow during his recovery in hospital the next morning (as seen in the picture).
Some journalists would discount all of the above as nonsense and not even attempt to verify the details. But dismissing Dawkins’ story out of hand seems unfair to me as a Christian journalist. The pastor has a substantial following in the UK and is clearly trusted by the leaders behind big events such as New Wine, Soul Survivor and Momentum.
The other side of the story
Can the family verify this remarkable story? The only member of the family who has spoken out so far is a person claiming to be Matt’s sister who has begun a Facebook page titled ‘Robby Dawkins. The truth about the ‘resurrection’'.
She writes, ‘We have been blocked from commenting on [Dawkins’] Facebook sites and therefore unable to explain our side of events. Although I wasn't there at the meeting, my mother and many extended family and friends were.'
She goes on to dispute the idea that her brother died at the meeting, writing: 'Regarding the 'death'... what Robby is telling everyone is not true. It has since been medically proven that Matthew had suffered an epileptic seizure which often can display similar signs of someone dying. Two nurse family friends of ours both had their hands on Matthew throughout and not once lost his pulse. So no, Matthew did not die.
‘The preacher from Inglewhite church has been so thrown by all of this that on Sunday just gone he stood at the front of church and apologized to his congregation for allowing Robby into their church. The doctor who was also there is said to be apologizing to them next week for all the pain caused through this unbelievable encounter that he had given and the shock that all this had been broadcast on Facebook by this coward of a man who will not face up to the actual truth.’
Other than a family picture which has been posted on the Facebook page, there are no details to verify the person behind the page is Mr Catlow’s sister. The unnamed individual claims Dawkins doesn’t even know the family surname (apparently it isn’t Catlow), yet she fails to provide the alternative, or respond to requests for additional information. Is she acting on behalf of Matt, or the wider family? Or is there disagreement, even amongst relatives, as to what happened that night?
On top of this, both the church and GP are remaining silent (they have been unavailable for comment). The only person who will speak on the record about this story is Dawkins himself, who issued us with the following statement:
‘There were many eyewitnesses there that night. I am in possession of a medical Dr's report stating Matt died and came back as a result of prayer. I prayed for him because his mother asked me to. The said sister wasn't present when this event happened. It's sad she isn't grateful for my response to her mother's pleas for help.
‘I am unaware of the Pastor apologizing for bringing me there. He thanked me for coming when I left. I have no regrets of how I responded in this emergency situation.’>
What do we know?
As we wage war in comment boxes, it’s worth reflecting on how the internet allows more of us to have a voice than ever before. This is of course good news. But it can also present problems. It’s easy to be anonymous online. Verification can be a lengthy and difficult process even with basic news stories. But add in a claim of resurrection and the waters muddy considerably. What constitutes proof or evidence of such a bold claim?
Robby Dawkins’ ‘doctor’s report’ isn’t an official document. It’s an email from a GP who was present on the evening. Clearly it holds weight and should be treated seriously. On the other hand, if the sister’s testimony is true, that doctor may have already recanted his testimony. Nobody filmed the event on their phone (but for most people, especially Brits, that would be the most inappropriate thing in the world to do anyway).
Currently it's Robby Dawkins testimony and a GP's note against the as-yet-unnamed sister's second hand account on Facebook. It's hard to know where the evidence lies. Perhaps the most important person we haven't heard from is Mr Catlow himself (if that is indeed his surname). We can at least be glad that, whatever happened that night, he is alive and well.
Some have claimed that Dawkins is out to make money or a name for himself. But it’s noteworthy that Dawkins hadn’t thought to promote his own testimony until a friend put him in touch with Charisma News. Charisma’s interview with Dawkins subsequently went viral and has generated multiple other news stories, comment pieces and heated debates. Dawkins insists that his only aim is to 'make Jesus famous'.
Whatever your conclusions on this strange story, one thing is clear. The full story has not yet been told. If the church, GP or Matt Catlow break their silence, perhaps some answers will materialise?