Spiritual healing has been featured in a range of publications across the years, with as many sceptics as there are believers. Here are a range of articles on the subject for you to peruse:
It's been 18 years since David Cunningham was captured by Saddam Hussein's troops during the Gulf War and used as a human shield. But he has never forgotten the pact he made with God while held captive: to use his spiritual powers to help people, if he was safely released.
The only thing that's ordinary about David Cunningham is his address. If you know anything about his story, you'd expect him to live in a castle or a cave halfway up a mountain. But home for David, 61, is a nice, detached bungalow in Fatfield, Washington, from which he operates his spiritual healing empire. His is a remarkable story of psychic ability, war, captivity, celebrity and miracles.
David, who grew up in Whickham, left home at the age of 20 to seek his fortune in London, where he enrolled as a student at The College of Psychic Studies. Shortly after, his teacher, Don Galloway, took him to one side and told him that healing was his destiny. David said: "When I left home I was a green-eyed country boy. I knew nothing about life. I was shocked when Don told me what he told me." Overwhelmed by this statement, David did nothing, until one of his friends became ill with abdominal pain.
David said: "I went to see her and I was sitting by her bed, when a voice above my head told me to put my hands on the pain. In a few minutes, she said the pain was gone. It was a really weird moment for both of us." After that, David went into the hotel trade and began to travel all over the world, using his gift now and again to help friends and acquaintances. Then David received the phone call that would change his life. He said: "In 1990, my agent rang me up and told me about a job in Kuwait, managing the Kuwait Plaza Hotel."
David took the job and flew to the Middle East. On August 2 of that year, he woke in his bed to the sound of gun shots. He said: "Iraqi troops were firing everywhere. I knew what was happening and I knew they would cut the phone lines, so I quickly called my sister and told her I was OK but that she wouldn't hear from me for a while."
Saddam Hussein then gave orders to his troops to round up the Westerners and take them to Baghdad. And there David was held, as a human shield in The Gulf War, until his release three months later. During that time, he decided to make a promise to God and use his talent for healing to help others. After his return home, with his mother dying of cancer, David promised her he wouldn't go abroad again. But after her death, with no money and no job, his promise was tested.
He said: “The hotel in Kuwait rang me up and offered me my old job back. I was going to take it because I had no money but at the last-minute I was offered a job in London." But David found his heart was no longer set on the hotel trade, and he wanted to keep his bargain with God.
He said: "I knew I had to do something, so I went to the local hospital to put myself forward as a buddy for people with HIV and aids. I spoke to the senior consultant for three hours and he gave me a job as a counsellor. It was an incredible experience, working in that environment. Then a nurse put me in touch with a GP who said he had patients who weren't responding to treatment. Gradually, I began doing healing work in the evenings and at weekends. I left my job at the hospital shortly after. One of the things I found very upsetting was that there was a lot of death, and I just wasn't used to it. I wanted to heal people. I was doing some work in Surrey with some horses, and it was going well. The people at the stables said they had a friend who had a lot of problems and asked if I would go and see her."
David didn't know it, but the woman he was about to go and see was the actress Hayley Mills, the daughter of Sir John Mills and playwright Mary Hayley Bell. Hayley had starred in several Disney films as a child, including Pollyanna, and became good friends with David, introducing him to the rest of her family. In particular, Sir John and David became firm friends, and David has many happy memories of the glamorous lifestyle he was shown by the Mills' family.
He said: "John was a wonderful man. I became his confidant, and he used to invite me to their grand parties. I remember his 90th birthday at the Dorchester. I was Hayley's escort and we went in a white Rolls-Royce. There was a red carpet, a fanfare, it was incredible. Andrew Lloyd Webber played Happy Birthday on the piano and Crispian Mills (Hayley's son) sang a lullaby. I sat next to Stephen Fry. We started talking and he asked me what I did, so I began to explain about the eight chakras and I asked him if he would like me to see if his were OK.
He said: "I don't think, my dear boy, I want you to touch my chakras." The late Sir John Mills was an English actor who made more than 120 films after being talent spotted by Noel Coward. David said: "I remember that for John's 89th birthday, Stephen Fry bought him one of Noel Coward's dressing gowns, from Sothebys™. The whole room filled with Noel's presence when John lifted that dressing gown out of its box. John was brilliant. I had such admiration for him. Even when he went blind he would stand in front of a mirror and straighten his tie to receive guests."
Hayley's open support for David and his work opened the floodgates for more celebrity clients, including Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. David said: "They were both lovely. The phone rang one day and it was Demi asking if I could go and see her. She was just a mum, looking after her three girls. One day we all went to the cinema together. It felt strange going to the movies with a movie star. Bruce was lovely too, not affected at all. His chef made me something to eat and we just sat there in his kitchen, talking."
Today, David travels to America, where he is ordained as a minister, every three months to visit clients. He also works from a clinic in Hong Kong. But the majority of his clients are ordinary people, and he still works a lot from his base in Washington. He said: "I treat whoever comes my way. To me, everyone is the same. Whatever job we do, it's just a job. I'm too old to get overwhelmed."
David's work is based on the notion that every physical problem comes from an emotional problem, and that by realigning the flow of energy through the body and the eight chakras, these problems can be soothed or ended.
David said: "People come to me and I ask them to tell me what the problem is. Everything comes from an emotion. When we're not at peace, in harmony, and have unresolved issues, then that filters into our bodies. People treat me like a priest. I'm unshockable now because I've heard it all. I re-align people's life force, and get their energy flowing the right way again. I channel my energies into a part of the body until I feel a shift. People respond the way they respond. I don't promise anything. I do my best to cure people or help them, but they have to do their homework and cure their demons. I get people to do homework, like release letter writing, until they start to feel different.
"I do a lot of work helping people with ME, and I've had some amazing results. I think ME is a stress virus which lodges in the central nervous system. I think ME is a problem of our time. We are swamped by materialism and we have no balance. It's all work and sleep, with no time to play."
"David bristles a bit when it comes to doctors and the medical profession. He said: "With all due respect, the medical profession haven't got a clue about the soul. They may laugh at me but I'm the one that deals with it and sees people getting well." When asked how he copes with cynics, he hoots with laughter: "I bless them. I know the power of healing and I've been doing it for a long time. I wouldn't still be working if I didn't have a good reputation."
"After a lifetime of visions, ghosts, voices, and premonitions, David says the most important thing for anyone is to keep an open mind about life. He said: "I've seen things you wouldn't believe."
- The Power of Healing - Sunderland Echo (February 2008)
David Cunningham was an ambitious businessman until Gulf War terror transformed his life. Now he's a successful faith healer.
"As he climbed the corporate ladder, David Cunningham wanted only the best. He lived a life of first-class foreign travel, luxury accommodations, and domestic servants pandering to his every whim. But all that was snatched away. As the 1990 Gulf War raged, David was held hostage - part of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's infamous human shield. Through the terrors that followed, he vowed that should he survive, he'd forgo material pleasure and use his real gifts instead - to heal the sick.”
“To keep myself sane, I meditated for hours under the blazing sun and I gradually realised my life had to change. Money didn't matter anymore. I decided that when I was free, I would devote my life to others. I am the grandson of a seventh son of a seventh son. And years ago, I was told by a clairvoyant that healing was my destiny. I won't say I'm a miracle healer. There's no such thing. But strange things do happen. There's no doubt that my life is richer than ever. And had I not been one of Saddam Hussein's hostages, I may never have used my gift at all."
- The Sunday People - 'Stepping Stones' Section (May 1998)