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"Faith Healer" Sent Home

A Sarnia, Ontario, high school student was suspended and then reinstated for praying for healing for fellow students, and for gathering a crowd as healings took place.

A Grade 11 St. Clair Secondary School student who claims to have healing powers says he spent Thursday at home after being suspended for praying.

Kyle Lubbers

Kyle Lubbers, 16, said principal Sean Keane suspended him for a day when a crowd of about 100 students gathered Wednesday to watch Lubbers perform a healing service across the street from the school.

"I asked him if I could pray and preach in my school and he told me I couldn't," Kyle told The Observer. He planned to return to school today but said he wouldn't stop praying in the halls and cafeteria. "Mr. Keane said it's my job at school is to get credits and I understand that. But it's my job in life to pray for the sick," Kyle said. "My dad says I should keep healing."

His father Pete Lubbers, also a born-again Christian, said he fully supports his son praying at school and won't tell him to stop. He met with Keane Thursday morning and said he believes his son was suspended because the principal was concerned about the large student gatherings getting out of hand. "His greater concern is not what Kyle is doing, but he's worried about the safety of the kids," Lubbers said. "I respect that, but I won't tell Kyle to stop being the person God wants him to be."

Keane listened to questions from The Observer but refused comment. "Kyle is entitled to his perspective. I'm not getting into it," he said.

Warren Kennedy, superintendent with the Lambton Kent District School Board, also declined comment. "It wouldn't be right for us to speak about a specific student in the paper," he said. "If Kyle wants to speak about it, that's his right."

Both Kyle and his father said the teen was troubled at the beginning of the year, involved in the drug scene and not attending classes. "Three weeks ago, I became a born-again Christian and started going to the Sarnia Revival at Bethel Pentecostal Church every night," Kyle said. "I started praying over the sick and healing them through God."

On Wednesday, he said he was on his lunch break and invited a number of students to record on tape their testimonials about being healed. They left school property and crossed Murphy Road to a church parking lot where two more students asked to be healed. Kyle said that he and another youth who doesn't attend the school began praying over them. Their activity attracted a crowd of students estimated to be anywhere from 50 to 100 people, who crossed Murphy Road in large groups to watch.

When his son returns to school today, Lubbers said he's not certain what will happen. "He prays for kids in class, in the hall and in the cafeteria. He's called on God to heal a sprained ankle, cramps, headaches, anything. "I really don't think I can contain it," said Lubbers. "We live in a country where we have freedom of religion."

He said when he left the principal's office Thursday, there was no firm decision about whether praying will be tolerated off school property. "I encourage Kyle to respect the rules of the school and he should not be preaching during class," Lubbers said. "But if Kyle goes off property and people gather and pray about God, I don't think there's anything you can do to stop that. If he gets suspended again, we'll have to assess it again."

Pastor Tim Gibb has been leading the revival services at Bethel Pentecostal where Kyle attends and said Kyle's principal called him about the incident at school. "I am very troubled Kyle is suspended," Gibb told The Observer. "It was a wrong decision and somewhat discriminatory. He was simply praying for some young people on their lunchtime. How is that a safety concern? Are we suspending young people now for praying for something good to happen to another student? It's not fair or right," said Gibb.

Lubbers said he does not intend to complain to the school board.

Cathy Dobson is a reporter with The Observer.

Originally published in the Sarnia Observer, June 2, 2006.

"Faith Healer" Back in Class

Sixteen-year-old Kyle Lubbers took his outdoor prayer service to St. Patrick's Catholic High School Thursday, after being suspended for holding one across the street from St. Clair Secondary School the day before. "I was suspended anyway so I thought, why not go to St. Patrick's and preach there?" said the St. Clair Grade 11 student.

"But after the miracles, they were really interested," Kyle said.

St. Clair principal Sean Keane gave Kyle a one-day suspension after a large crowd gathered in a parking lot near the high school Wednesday where Kyle claimed to heal fellow students. Neither Keane nor the school board will comment on the suspension. But Kyle's parents say they condone his behaviour and encourage it.

A crowd estimated at about 50 formed around Kyle and several of his friends while they were on St. Pat's property. "We prayed for a guy with a broken collar bone," Kyle said. "God healed at least ten kids."

After about one hour, they were asked by school officials to leave. Kyle, and Josh Pitka, 23, founder of a local church that claims to perform miracles, said that St. Pat's students "mocked" them initially. "But after the miracles, they were really interested," Kyle said.

When the bell rang and the crowd did not disperse, some teachers came out to tell the students to get to class, according to Pitka. "Finally we were told we were trespassing and that we couldn't be on school property," he said. "I can respect that."

While Pitka doesn't have any plans to trespass at St. Pat's again, he said he hasn't ruled out taking his prayer and healing services to other Sarnia high schools. St. Pat's principal Gord Bristow said Kyle and his friends were co-operative when they were asked to leave. "The issue for me, is whether it was interfering with the learning day," Bristow said. "If the kids were cutting class to attend this event, then it is interfering."

The youths left the school property with "no trouble at all," the principal added. On Friday, Kyle was back at his own school and spent his lunch hour with Pitka and about a dozen students milling around on a street near St. Clair. A few prayers were said but a crowd did not form. "Some are saying they're afraid of being suspended like I was," Kyle said.

His father, Pete Lubbers, stopped by to ensure all was well and praised Kyle and his friends for standing up for something they believe in. "This is extreme by our social standards, I guess, but I think there's a movement of God in our city. "Kyle is doing things I never had the nerve to do," Lubbers said. "Clearly some will accept it and some won't."

Cathy Dobson is a reporter with The Observer.

Originally published in the Sarnia Observer, June 3, 2006.




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