Muhammad Ponari, a 9-year-old boy from Jombang, East Java, Indonesia had been playing in the rain in his front yard when he was hit by a thunderbolt. When he came to, he found a stone the size of an egg. He had reportedly placed the stone in a glass of water, which was later gulped down by his cousin. The cousin, who had been ill for quite sometime, was then cured of his raging high fever.
Then another neighbour approached him - a woman in her 30s who had suffered from a depressive condition for 15 years. She, too, was healed.
The miracles, large and small, kept coming, said Nila Retno, the local village chief.
"My arm was sprained. The water touched by stone was given to me and I applied the water to my sprained arm. Suddenly, I was OK again," she said.
The district police commissioner, Sutikno, a devout Muslim who will be making the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca this year, told of his experience.
"I was inside the house talking to the boy and his family. Together with me in the house was a boy of his age who had not spoken for five years," he said.
"Ponari shook him. The boy reacted and they started fighting, like wrestling and pulling each other's hair. Then, a few moments after the fighting, the boy started to talk."
What did he say? "He said 'I'm scared' in Javanese — but he talked."
The tales of miraculous healings spread. Within a week of the lightning strike, hundreds of villagers were lining up outside Ponari's modest home.
A week later, the ailing, the lame and the curious were coming from as far afield as Malaysia. Thousands queued each day in lines stretching for kilometres, carrying plastic bags of water ready to be transformed into an elixir by the magical stone.
Stampedes erupted on at least three occasions, resulting in the deaths of three people and injuries to dozens more.
The public disorder forced police to remove the boy to an undisclosed location. Ponari has stopped administering his miracle cures this week after tending to tens of thousands of patients.
Even so, as much as 1 billion rupiah ($A120,000) has been raised through a charity box outside his home. This, many adherents to mysticism believe, was poor form indeed. Dukuns (or shamans) are not supposed to profit from their activities.
According to village chief Retno, Ponari himself said he had been "scolded" by the stone for accepting cash. "He said he felt that his whole body was whipped," she said.
Is this a hoax, a miracle or just the power of the mind?