There’s a man in Opelousas who says Jesus Christ has blessed him to heal pain and cure disease. We went to see for ourselves.
July 31, 2002
Greg Kerr runs small ads in the local newspapers with his photo and his phone number. He’s dressed in a white suit with long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail and a long, flowing gray beard. The ad says he is “An Anointed Cherub” and that he’s “Blessed by Jesus Christ with the gift to heal any pain or disease!” He looks like he’s in ZZ Top, not like he’s in the healing business.
Times’ photographer Terri Fensel and I drove to his home in Opelousas. I wanted to find out what kind of man would make such claims and back them with advertising.
Kerr lives in a small brick house with a spacious yard on the edge of a field. As we pull into the driveway, a crop duster flies overhead and a mule brays in the distance. A sporty black Mercedes sits in the driveway. I make some wisecrack to Terri about how well the healing business must be paying these days.
Kerr’s wife, Louella, answers the door. She is soft-spoken and shakes our hands gingerly before inviting us into the house. In the living room, silk flowers are intertwined in two metal arbors. Pieces of a beige sectional leather couch form a half-circle, next to a recliner and an open Bible resting on a stand. There are inspirational sayings written on plaques hanging on the walls. Soothing pan flutes from a small stereo system in the corner of the room mingle with the sweetly perfumed air.
It’s almost too much to handle, and there are knots in the pit of my stomach.
Kerr walks into the room and greets us. He’s dressed normally enough, in a long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans and loafers. I don’t know why, but I had expected a robe, maybe even sandals.
He asks that we call him Greg and invites us to have a seat.
God is a healer,” Greg says. “His No. 1 method of operation is that He uses people. We have difficulty in getting people to understand that there can be someone in this day and age that has the ability to lay hands upon them and to literally get them bailed out by God.”
Greg says he isn’t the one doing the healing. He’s just an instrument of God.
He tells both of us to hold our hands up as if we are about to wave to someone. We’re both facing him and he sits about 10 feet away from us in a recliner. He lifts his hand in the same manner.
There’s a tingling sensation in my hand, like when my foot falls asleep. But this is different. There is no numbness, just a subtle sensation of electricity dancing around my open hand.
Before I can say anything, Greg says, “If you can feel an energy in your hand, tell me. Do you feel heat or a tingling?”
I tell him that I feel a tingling sensation. Terri says her hand feels the same way.
“That’s the anointing,” he says. “That’s the power of the spirit. The anointing is a physical force. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
He says that the sensation usually takes the form of heat, coolness or electricity and sometimes a combination of all three.
I ask him if he feels the same thing we’re feeling. He says he feels it all the time.
“I probably have stepped into the greatest treasure that an individual on Earth can find,” he says. “If you find the anointing, you have found heaven’s treasure. What you are literally doing is bringing power from a different realm into this realm.”
I ask him if he charges people to anoint them. He says he doesn’t ask for money, because he’s not doing anything. God is the one responsible. Greg is just the conduit. However, he does accept donations to his ministry.
“I come from way out in left field,” he says. “But I’m on an incredible journey. I’ve waited my whole life to go on this journey and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The anointing is the greatest gift and the greatest treasure that an individual can have here on Earth.”
Greg was raised Catholic in Opelousas. He attended the Academy of the Immaculate Conception, now Opelousas Catholic. He never found the God he was taught about in school and in church.
His journey began when he started studying the Bible. In 1987, he had two divinely inspired visions in the night. They were as vivid as movies, and to this day he can recall every detail of the visions.
In the first instance, he stood in a meadow and saw the resurrected Christ. They stared at one another in silence. There was a fog that kept Greg from seeing Jesus’ face clearly. It grew thicker, and Greg strained to see Him. He was then struck in the face with a shaft of light that dropped him to his knees.
“I have never before – nor since – seen anything so bright,” he says. “As the scripture said, the power of the sun is tremendously dim compared to the lightness within this Christ … There is a great love within this man.”
In the second vision, God revealed to Greg that the world is the church and the church is the world. Greg then realized that he would not find God through organized religion, but through the Bible and through Christ.
He began telling others of his visions. He knew that his story could set others on the path to Christ. His new job was to “bring people to the truth.”
Years went by without any more visions, but Greg continued his spiritual journey with fasting and prayer.
In 1995, he attended a Benny Hinn revival in St. Louis. When Hinn entered the room, the atmosphere in the building changed and “the air around me turned like electricity.” When Greg returned home, a blue-gray mist followed him, what he calls “the glory cloud,” and it remained for four days. On the third night of the cloud’s presence, God told him that if he wanted the glory to remain in his family’s life, he was going to have to pay the price. Greg told his wife and she said whatever the price was, he should do it. The next day, he accepted the price, and the cloud lifted from his life and disappeared.
For the next year he prayed and fasted. He never went for more than two hours without praying.
In August of 1996 he was working at his vacuum cleaner shop in downtown Opelousas and managing Carpet Land for his uncle.
One day an elderly woman walked in with her husband. The old man began apologizing profusely. He said his wife had insisted that they go to the shop. She wasn’t taking no for an answer. Greg sat them down in his office. He had never seen either one of them around town.
The old lady said to him, “Young man, I have a message for you from God. Are you interested?”
Greg said he was.
“I saw you in a dream last night,” the woman said. “Jesus had his hands upon your head, and he told me to come and tell you that he has anointed you.”
No one else, aside from his wife and his daughter, knew of Greg’s soul-searching. “I knew she was sent by God,” he says.
Since then he has never seen the couple around town or met anyone who knows who the couple were.
Greg was praying on a regular basis, when on Sept. 9, 1997, he “made a breakthrough in the realm of the spirit.” He had been praying during the middle of the night for two hours in his living room when a beam of heat hit him in his face. He could smell smoke for a minute, and then it was gone. Eight days later, he woke early in the morning to pray. He felt as if a hot hand was feeling his face.
He says, “From that point on, I have this energy, this anointing, that never leaves me day or night. And since Sept. 9, 1997, it has been increasing.”
He asks us if we saw the car in the driveway. I lie and say we didn’t see it, even though it’s sitting there in broad daylight right next to the door into the house.
He tells us how an anointed cherub came to drive a Mercedes.
Alex Chachere is Greg’s first cousin. He’s 70 years old and, despite living with Parkinson’s disease, he says, “I feel fantastic.” He attributes his good health to God and Greg’s healing hands.
“I wouldn’t consider myself a real religious man,” he says, “but my views have changed about how I feel about my religion.”
Chachere developed a staph infection in his knee after surgery. He was in the hospital for two months, taking antibiotics that never fully worked. He was later released from the hospital. He was back at home, when one day he went into cardiac arrest. He was admitted back into the hospital, and his doctor informed him that it would require a six- to eight-week stay in the hospital to get rid of the infection.
After a month-long stay, his daughter suggested that they call Greg to come to the hospital one evening to pray. Chachere says he was willing to try anything. Greg prayed with him that evening in the hospital.
The next morning, Chachere says, “I looked and felt so good they let me go home and put me on IVs.”
The staph infection wasn’t gone, but his condition had improved enough overnight to allow him to return home. The staph infection eventually disappeared.
When asked how much he attributes his improved condition to Greg’s ability to heal, Chachere says, “All of it. It’s the Holy Spirit. He’s just a conduit.”
Chachere was so impressed with Greg’s abilities that he turned over the Mercedes he had recently bought. He says, “I realized in the hospital that I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t get rid of the damn thing, and I had just put $6,000 into the air conditioner.”
Chachere says Greg “continues to see me every day and anoint me with the Holy Spirit.”
“He’s a very gentle man,” Chachere says. “I really enjoy him. He’s at peace with himself. That’s something most people aren’t. I’m not at peace with myself, but he is.”
Greg sits up in his chair and looks at Terri. He places his hands around her open hand, but he doesn’t touch her.
“What did you need from God?” he asks.
“For my back pain to go away,” she says.
About five years ago, while on assignment at a basketball game, a pain shot through her. She had to be helped up from the floor where she sat taking photos. She went through six weeks of therapy and even had an MRI and a full body scan, but her doctor couldn’t figure out what was causing the pain. Since then, she’s consulted three different doctors, gone through physical therapy, taken pain killers and exercised to strengthen the muscles in her back, but the pain has never really gone away. Acupuncture has relieved some of the pain, but it’s never completely wiped it out.
“Do you have it right now?” Greg asks.
“Tell me when it’s gone,” he says.
Terri looks apprehensive. She is forcing herself to smile for Greg’s benefit. When she’s behind the camera, she’s shielded, but now she’s vulnerable, open to her subject’s whims. From the look on her face, I can tell that she’s not too hip on this role reversal and being the center of attention. She plays along, though.
Then there’s a flash of confusion that comes over her face and she says, “It’s gone.”
Then she looks disoriented. She is having a difficult time balancing herself. She shudders and then breaks into tears.
It’s getting weirder. This guy’s already made my hand tingle without touching it, and now he’s making my co-worker cry like a baby.
“I know,” he says. He pats her knee.
“That’s the Holy Spirit,” he says. “He’s something, isn’t He? We have an incredible God. This is what you do. Listen to me. If you miss everything on Earth, but you enter into His kingdom, you are victorious. You are an eternal being that will live forever. If you gain everything this world has to offer, if you gain a great mansion and billions of dollars, but if you lose His kingdom, you have been defeated.”
I try to comfort Terri, telling her it’s OK. I don’t even have a grasp on what’s going on, much less whether or not it’s OK. I do know that I am comfortable and at ease.
I later asked her what she had felt at the time. She said she felt energy traveling from her hand through her arm and into her back. As if there was a dimmer switch on the energy traveling through her body, there was a quick and gradual reduction of pain until it was completely gone. Then she felt an incredible pressure inside of her. She didn’t know what it was, but the only way to relieve it was to cry.
Greg says it’s a common reaction for people to cry after he anoints them. He said another common reaction is for people to vomit after they leave his house. I don’t tell him I’ve been nauseous since I walked through the door.
Greg says we might not want to print this part. He doesn’t like to be the bearer of bad news. “I have all sorts of understanding about things to come,” he says.
On Sept. 10, 2001, he had a premonition. He remembers telling Chachere that all hell was about to break loose in this country. After Sept. 11, Greg closed down his shop and began doing God’s work full time. God revealed to him that the United States would be struck three times. The first blow was on Sept. 11. With the second blow, this nation will go down on one knee. And with the final blow, the nation will crumble and not be able to rise again.
“The end of the age is easily all within our lifetimes,” he says.
It’s been a long hour, and at times it’s felt like a lifetime. I wrap up the interview and thank Greg for his time.
He says, “I’ve been waiting for you guys. Where you been?”
He tells how he knew we were coming. He sometimes watches “those two crazy guys” on The Swamp ‘n’ Roll Show. The first time he saw the show he couldn’t figure out if it was a real show or just a bad joke. He tuned back in the next week to see if it was still on the air. Now he watches whenever he can. He likes how Joe Burge acts like he’s healing Todd Ortego at the beginning of the show.
“Those guys don’t realize that that’s possible,” he says.
One afternoon, Greg picked up a copy of The Times with Burge and Ortego on the cover.
“When I picked it up, the Lord said, ‘They’re going to do an article on you.’ I knew you were coming. I’ve been waiting for you. That’s usually the way the Lord speaks to me.”
As we’re heading out the door, he asks us if we know what the story will be like and when it will run in the paper. I tell him I’m not sure about either, but I’ll let him know once I figure it out.
“Never mind,” he says. “I already know what the story’s going to be like.”
All of this happened over a month ago. Since then, Terri and I have been working on other stories. One afternoon I watched her fall from a tractor and land in a field on her tailbone. When she made it to her feet, she was clutching her camera and laughing.
Since Terri met Greg, she’s had no back pain.