Chris Carter, pastor at The Healing Experience Ministries, will be 28 on Monday.
Raised in a Christian home, he said he’s followed Christ about as long as he can remember. Not perfectly, he recalls, but sincerely.
Carter said he has served in ministry in both African Methodist Episcopal congregations and in the United Methodist Church, filling church roles and being a campus minister with the Wesley Foundation at Fort Valley State University.
While one church he served as associate pastor, Fort Valley UMC, was more than 175 years old and very well established, The Healing Experience is only weeks old, non-denominational and meets in a rented chapel in the Southern Georgia Second Jurisdiction Church of God in Christ building just north of the Macon-Bibb/Jones County line.
“Yeah, there’s a difference,” Carter said. “Kind of a scary difference. Where I used to walk down the street and know I was part of a great, well-known church and working in a proven campus ministry — now I’m the new kid on the block in a church that people hardly know. Some people are like, ‘What? What are you doing? Why? Why did you leave a good ministry and a paycheck to go out and do this? Are you sure you heard God?’ ”
In answer, Carter said he’s sure.
“I’m not doing this to be a big deal or have my own thing,” he said. “In fact, I’ve been saying no to God about doing this for probably five years. Finally, I knew I had to say yes. Years ago, God put Psalm 147:3 in my heart about him healing broken hearts and binding up broken, hurting, sick people’s wounds. That’s what he put on my heart and mind all the years as he was leading me to start this ministry and that’s what we believe he wants to do.”
Plus, another challenge Carter said he faced was not wanting to start a church in the Macon area. He said it wasn’t he didn’t like Macon, it was that he questioned God whether or not Macon needed another church.
“Why start another church in Macon? Aren’t there plenty?” he said he asked God. “I still don’t know the answer to that but I know God brought us here. He’s blessing. He’s answering prayers and providing every day.”
Carter said the church’s name, The Healing Experience, reflects purpose.
“It’s not just that it’s a catchy name, it’s what our ministry is about,” he said. “It’s about healing of all kinds from spiritual healing to physical healing, from healing educational issues to career issues and from hurts from families and churches to disappointments and everything we all go through. We want people to experience God’s work in their lives to bring healing both supernaturally and through learning from his word how to live in healthier, better ways whether that means taking care of our bodies or taking care of our attitudes and keeping them filled with love and forgiveness towards others as well receiving the amazing love and forgiveness God has for us.”
Carter traces The Healing Experience’s beginnings to February 2015 and a Bible study in a home in Fort Valley. He said the study grew and drew people from the wider Middle Georgia area. He said as they studied and prayed together, the call came to start the church and to start it in Macon.
Preview services began in April 2016 and the group just began actual services in late June.
BRINGING SOMETHING NEW TO LIFE
Though Carter points out the difficulties of planting a new church and bringing it to life, especially without denominational backing, he said it’s a worthy project if it has God’s support and that it’s not something totally foreign to him. He said the AME church recruited him to two congregations — one in Baxley and one in Fort Valley — that he said were “sinking and about to close.” But he said both experienced new growth and continue on to this day.
“We’re a ministry that believes God can do what he says,” Carter said. “We’re very family oriented whether it’s through actual family or other relationships he gives. God works in his church, his family, to bring healing and life. I’ve had many wonderful influences in my own life through AME churches and UMC churches and through people like my grandfather who was a Baptist and a grandmother who was Methodist and a great-grandmother who was Pentecostal. We’re an independent church but we have strong relationships and influences and believe in carefully teaching the Bible plus relying on the work of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. One of the greatest influences in my life is John Wesley, who was actually very radical, quite charismatic and believed the power in his ministry came through prayer and praying people. We absolutely depend on that, too. As we see needs and work to meet them we don’t think we have it all but we’re here to pray and work with others and play our part to bring healing to Middle Georgia. We’re really here to serve.”
Carter said he has a degree in church music from Brewton–Parker College in Mount Vernon and is in seminary through Liberty University programs. He said he plans to continue his education by gaining a doctorate degree once his current studies are finished. He said he considers education key and learning a lifelong pursuit.
One church member, Johnnie Tippins, is from Baxley and has known Carter since his days there. Tippins leads prayer ministries at The Healing Experience.
“One of the big things at the church for Chris and for all of us is the idea of loving people back to life — loving people with the love of God in real ways that are Holy Spirit led,” he said. “It’s loving the unlovable and people that others may have cast aside, or who don’t fit in with our perception of how people ought to be. We want to show all people consistent, Agape love. Alongside that, we seek to have an atmosphere where people can freely worship and can find out more about Jesus.”
Carter said through the faithfulness he’s seen God show in starting the church, he’s confident many will find help and God’s healing at The Healing Experience.
“Yes, we’re new, but seeing God’s provision and faithfulness every day to get this going is part of what has confirmed to us we’re doing what he wants and that he’ll use us to help others. I know this is God birthed, God assigned. I was comfortable in an established church, getting a salary, having a comfortable parsonage, a successful campus ministry, but I knew God was wanting us to stretch out in faith and follow him to something new and that made me uncomfortable and desire to accomplish what he wanted done through this new ministry. I don’t ever want people to think I just got big headed or mad and left a church out of rebellion, that’s not it. We’re not perfect — God knows we’re not — but we are seeking to humbly do all the things he’s called us to do. With his help we will. And may the Lord help us — because we always, always need it.”
Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.
The Healing Experience Ministries
Leadership: Chris Carter, pastor
Worship: 10:45 a.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Thursday
Meeting location: 2938 Gray Highway, Macon
Mail address: P.O. Box 2073, Fort Valley, Ga. 31030