Kathryn Kuhlman – “The Woman Who Believed in Miracles”
Kathryn Kuhlman— undreds have been healed just sitting quietly in the audience without any demonstration whatsoever. None. Very often not even a sermon is preached. There have been times when not even a song has been sung.
“No loud demonstration, no loud calling on God as though He were deaf. No screaming, no shouting, within the very quietness of His presence. There were hundreds of times when the presence of the Holy Spirit was so real that one could almost hear the rhythm as thousands of hearts beat as one.”1
In this rapt silence a voice speaks, “I—ah…belieeeeeeeve—ah—in—ah merrrrrrricals—ah!” Suddenly the applause is deafening as thousands watch a tall, slim figure emerge from the shadows in a white, frothy gown. She glides to center stage, and another Kathryn Kuhlman miracle service is underway.
In her international ministry, Miss Kuhlman laid a foundation for the workings of the Holy Spirit in the lives of countless thousands throughout the world. Her unique ministry shifted the focus of the body of Christ from the outward show of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit back to the GIVER of the Gifts, the Holy Spirit.
A prophetic tone in her ministry set the pace for what the Church would be like in times to come. Her ministry was literally a forerunner for the Church of the future.
Though she called herself “an ordinary person,” Kathryn was unique. Many have tried to imitate her voice and her theatrical mannerisms, but to no avail. Others have tried to translate her special anointing into techniques and methods without success.
I thank God for Kathryn Kuhlman. She was an example of one who fearlessly paid the price to walk in the service of God. I am grateful for the lessons I have learned through her life. And in this chapter I want to share some of those lessons with you, many from her own words.
Concordia, Missouri, was settled by German immigrants who began arriving in the late 1830s. Kathryn’s mother, Emma Walkenhorst, married Joseph Kuhlman in 1891.
According to her permanent high school record, Kathryn Johanna Kuhlman was born May
9, 1907, on the family farm about five miles from Concordia. Kathryn was named after both of her grandmothers. She never had a birth certificate since one was not required by
Missouri law until 1910.
When Kathryn was two years old, her father sold their 160 acre farm and built a big house in town. This was the house that Kathryn always called “home.”
A childhood friend described young Kathryn as having: “…Large features, red hair, and freckles. It couldn’t be said of Kathryn that she was pretty. She wasn’t dainty or appealingly feminine in any sense of the word. She was taller than the rest of ‘our gang’ (five feet eight), gangly and boyish in build, and her long strides kept the rest of us puffing to keep up with her.”
As a young girl, Kathryn was also noted for her “independence, self-reliance and a desire to do things her way.”2 She managed to twist her “papa” around her little finger, getting almost anything she wanted from him. According to Kathryn, the discipline was always left to her mother, a harsh woman, who never praised Kathryn or gave her any affection. Yet Kathryn never once felt unloved or unwanted. Her papa gave her all the love and affection she ever needed. In fact, she so adored her papa that even thirty years after his death, tears would come to her eyes as she talked about him.
Once, when Kathryn was about nine years old, she wanted to do something nice for her mother’s birthday. So she decided she would give her a surprise birthday party.
Well Kathryn never thought about her mother’s birthday falling on a Monday. So she went around to all the neighbors, telling them all to show up with a cake.
As a young girl, Kathryn was also noted for her “independence, self- reliance and a desire to do things her way.” She managed to twist her “papa” around her little finger, getting almost anything she wanted from him.
Mondays were wash days at the Kuhlman household. Every other day of the week, Emma Kuhlman would dress from head to toe in her best clothes. One never knew when an unexpected guest might come by, and she dreaded the idea of anyone seeing her groomed poorly.
So Monday came and Emma Kuhlman was dressed for wash day. As she labored over a hot tub, her hair hung down wrung in the sweat, her clothes were damp and soiled, and she was bare-legged. There was a knock at the door, and when she opened it— there stood the neighbors all dressed up in their finest attire. And there stood Emma, totally wilted and fatigued from her wash day! Her pride ruined, Emma vowed to Kathryn under her breath that she would
And take care of her she did! In fact, Emma Kuhlman made Kathryn stand and eat every one of the birthday cakes the neighbors brought!
Kathryn’s father taught her the principles of business. He was a stable owner. She loved to go with him as he collected bills, and in later years would give him credit for everything she knew about organization and business.
Kathryn was fourteen years old when she was born again. She told the story many times during her life of how she answered what seemed to be a sovereign wooing directly from the Holy Spirit Himself, not from any person. She came from a “religious” background rather than a spiritual one, so the churches she attended never gave altar calls to receive salvation.
Of this, Kathryn would later write:
“I was standing beside Mama, and the hands of the church clock were pointed to five minutes before twelve o’clock. I can’t remember the minister’s name or even one word of his sermon, but something happened to me. It’s as real to me right now as it was then—the most real thing that ever happened to me.
“As I stood there, I began shaking to the extent that I could no longer hold the hymnal, so I laid it on the pew…and sobbed. I was feeling the weight of (conviction) and I realized that I was a sinner. I felt like the meanest, lowest person in the whole world. Yet I was only a fourteen-year- old girl.
“…I did the only thing I knew to do: I slipped out from where I was standing and walked to the front pew and sat down in the corner of the pew and wept. Oh, how I wept!
“…I had become the happiest person in the whole world. The heavy weight had been lifted. I experienced something that has never left me. I had been born again, and the Holy Spirit had done the very thing that Jesus said He would do (John l6:8).”4
Kathryn’s father was standing in the kitchen when she came running home from church that day to share with him her good news. It was her custom to tell Papa everything.
In her words, she rushed up to him and said, “Papa… Jesus has just come into my heart.”
Without any emotion, he just said “I’m glad.”5
Kathryn recalls how she was never really sure whether or not her father understood what she meant. She would eventually choose to join her father’s Baptist church rather than her mama’s Methodist church. But even then, she had a mind of her own.
Kathryn says she was never sure if her father was born again. At times, she would speak convincingly that he was. But privately, she sometimes expressed frustration at not knowing for sure.
Kathryn did know, however, that her father had a strong aversion to preachers. Actually, she said that he despised preachers! If Joseph Kuhlman saw a preacher coming down the street, he would cross over to the other side to keep from speaking to him. He thought all preachers were “in it for the money.” And the only time he attended church was on holidays or for special services at which Kathryn was giving a recitation. As far as she knew, he never prayed or read the Bible.
THEIR FIRST EMBRACE
According to Kathryn, church attendance was just as important as going to work. At first she attended the Methodist church with her mother. It was there, in 1921, that she was born again. But from 1922 on, the entire family
According to Kathryn,
church attendance was just as important as going to work.
was listed as members of the Baptist church. Though she came from a denominational background, her
ministry in later years would become ecumenical as
she freely moved through all churches from the Pentecostal to the Catholics. No denomination barred the ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman. She refused to be a
part of a denomination and gave no organization any credit for her ministry. She gave credit only to God.
Throughout Kathryn’s teenage years, her mother taught the Epworth League for young people in the Methodist church. A neighbor said Mrs. Kuhlman was an “excellent Bible teacher, and Kathryn and her sisters and brother must have received some very fine teaching and training at home.” The neighbor also talked of hearing someone in the Kuhlman family singing in the evening and someone else playing the piano.6
Even though her mother was called an excellent teacher in the Epworth League at church, she was not actually born again until 1935 during one of Kathryn’s meetings in Denver.
Kathryn had invited her mother to the meeting. After the close of the first service, Kathryn went into the prayer room behind the pulpit to pray for those who answered the invitation to receive salvation. Later, her mother walked into the prayer room, saying she wanted to know Jesus as Kathryn knew Him.
Kathryn, now choked with tears, reached out and laid her hand on the back of her mama’s head. The moment her fingers touched her mother, Mama began to shake, then cry. It was the same kind of shaking and crying that Kathryn remembered when she had stood beside Mama in that little Methodist church in Concordia. But this time, there was something new. Mama lifted her head and began to speak, slowly at first, then more rapidly. But the words weren’t English, they were clear, bell-tone sounds of an unknown tongue.
“Kathryn fell to her knees beside her, weeping and laughing at the same time…when Emma opened her eyes, she reached out for Kathryn and held her tightly. It was the first time that Kathryn could ever remember being embraced by her mother.”7
Her mother didn’t sleep for three days and two nights after that. She was a new person, and for the rest of her life in Concordia, Emma Kuhlman had a wonderful, sweet communion with the Holy Spirit.
THE EVANGELISTIC MAID
One characteristic of those greatly used by God is their willingness to drop everything and follow His leading. In 1913, Kathryn’s older sister Myrtle married a young, good- looking evangelist who was just finishing his course at Moody Bible Institute. So Myrtle and her new husband, Everett Parrott, began an evangelistic tent ministry. About ten years later, in 1924, she and Myrtle persuaded their parents that it was God’s will for Kathryn to travel with them.
At that time, the Parrotts, whose headquarters were in Oregon, were acquainted with Dr. Charles S. Price, who had a healing ministry. He had introduced them to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. However, wonderful as this experience was, the Parrott’s marriage had not been a happy one, and now financial strains were adding to the problems.
It would have been easy for Kathryn to slip into self-pity because of these circumstances. Instead, she busied herself around the Parrott house, taking over the washing on Monday and the ironing on Tuesday.
A PORTION OF HER
During this time, along with earning the lessons of patience in adversity, Kathryn also learned not to give way to self-pity. Later many of her messages flowed out of her personal spiritual growth in these areas. Self-pity and self-centeredness were the same to Kathryn. Obviously, she determined as a teenager not to allow either of these have a place in her life, regardless of what happened to her.
“Be careful of the person, whether they’re a member of your family, whether you work with them, whether they are an
Kathryn learned early in life that self-centeredness, along with all the other “self sins, such as self-pity, self- indulgence, or even self- hatred, causes a person to judge or condemn himself And that this hinders the Holy Spirit’s working in his or her life.
employee, be careful of a person who can’t say, ‘I am sorry.’ You will find that person very self-centered.
“That is the reason you have heard me say ten thousand times that the only person Jesus can’t help, the only person for whom there is no forgiveness of sins is the person who will not say, ‘I’m sorry for my sins.’…Such a self-centered person usually draws disease to themselves like a magnet.”8
Kathryn learned early in life that self-centeredness, along with all the other “self” sins such as self-pity, self-indulgence, or even self-hatred, causes a person to judge or condemn himself. And that this hinders the Holy Spirit’s working in his or her life.
Kathryn always said that anyone could experience the operation of the Holy Spirit in his life if he was willing to pay the price.
“Paying the price” is not a one-time experience. It begins with an initial commitment, a determination to follow God each day of your life.
There were many times and places where Kathryn could have chosen not to submit to the correction of the Holy Spirit. But, fortunately for the present-day body of Christ, she made the right choices and is an example for us to follow.
THERE’S NOTHING LEFT TO PREACH!
Kathryn spent five years with her sister and brother-in-law, preparing the foundation for her own ministry. She worked in the household to ease any burden her presence might have brought, and spent many hours reading and studying the Word.
In 1928, the Parrotts arrived in Boise, Idaho. By this time they had acquired a tent and a pianist by the name of Helen Gulliford. But their marital problems continued to grow. So they decided that Everett would go on to South Dakota while they would leave Myrtle, Kathryn, and Helen in Boise to conduct a meeting there.
After two weeks, the offerings collected weren’t enough to pay the rent on the building, their small apartment, or to buy food. They lived meagerly on bread and tuna.9
Myrtle soon felt that her only recourse was to rejoin her husband. Kathryn and Helen couldn’t see any hope for their future by continuing to travel with the Parrotts. So like Paul and Barnabas in the New Testament church, they decided to part company. A local pastor in Boise offered them a chance to preach in a small pool hall that had been converted into a mission—and that was the beginning of The Kathryn Kuhlman Ministry!
From the “pool hall” mission, they went to Pocatello, Idaho, where Kathryn preached in an old opera house. The building was filthy and had to be cleaned before they could use it. You can guess who did the cleaning—the evangelist, of course. From there, they went to Twin Falls, Idaho, in the dead of winter where Kathryn slipped on the ice and broke her leg. Though the doctor had told her to not put her foot down for two weeks, she immediately continued to preach with her foot in a cast. She never allowed her flesh to cause her to compromise the will of God.
Kathryn once said,:
“From that first sermon I preached in Idaho—Zacchaeus up a tree, and God knows if anyone was up a tree, I sure was—one thing I knew, I was sold on the things of God. Jesus was real to me. My heart was fixed.”10
After preaching four or five sermons, she would humorously say:
“…I wondered, ‘What more can I preach about?’ There isn’t anything else in the Bible. I have absolutely exhausted the supply of sermons. For the life of me, I can’t think of anything else to preach about.”11
STABLE AND STRONG IN THE TURKEY HOUSE
Many times in those early years, their accommodations were meager, to say the least. On one occasion, the family with whom she was scheduled to stay didn’t have a place for her—until they scrubbed out the turkey house. Kathryn often said she would have gladly slept on a straw stack, because her need to preach was so strong within her. Years later she would often laugh and tell how she would lock the doors and not let anyone out until she was sure they were all saved! That was her joke; however, she would also stay at the altar until the wee hours of the morning praying with anyone who lingered.
Other places Kathryn stayed might have been cleaner than the turkey house, but they weren’t as warm. In those days guest rooms weren’t heated. Later she would tell how she snuggled under great piles of covers until she got the place warm where she lay. Then she would turn over on her stomach and study the Word of God for hours at a time.
What keeps a person devoted to their call? Kathryn’s answer was “loyalty.”
Her heart was “sold out” to the Lord. That was the secret of her ministry. Her heart was fixed on Jesus. She determined to be loyal to Him and to avoid grieving the Holy Spirit.
In Kathryn’s early years of ministry, two other characteristics were developed— dedication, and loyalty to God and His people. Kathryn expanded and developed her spiritual understanding from the foundation of character that she developed early in life.
“The word loyalty has little meaning in these days because there’s so little of it being practiced…Loyalty is something that is intangible…It’s like love. You can only understand it as you see it in action…Love is something you do, and that’s also true of loyalty. It means faithfulness. It means allegiance. It means devotion.
“…My heart is fixed. I’ll be loyal to Him at any cost, at any price. Loyalty is much more than a casual interest in someone or something. It’s a personal commitment. In the final analysis, it means, ‘Here I am. You can count on me. I won’t fail you.'”12
In other words, true loyalty for those called into the ministry would be expressed by their decision never to deviate from God’s call. Do not add to it or take from it—just do it. According to Kathryn, when people begin to do their own thing, their loyalty changes from God, to themselves.
I WANT IT B-I-G!
After preaching all over Idaho, Kathryn and Helen moved into Colorado. Following a six-month revival in Pueblo, they arrived in Denver. A businessman, Earl F. Hewitt, had joined her in Pueblo as her business manager. That year of 1933 the Depression was in full swing. Businesses were closed down, millions of people were out of work, and churches were struggling to stay open.
Kathryn was a traveling evangelist without the financial backing of any denomination, yet her belief was in a big God whose resources weren’t limited. She believed if you were serving a God of limited finances, then you were serving the wrong god. She lived by the principle of faith and trusted in God.
She told Hewitt to go into Denver and act as if they had a million dollars. When he pointed out that in reality they had only $5, she said:
“He [God] is not limited to what we have or who we are. He can certainly use our five dollars and multiply it just as easily as He multiplied the loaves and fishes…Now go on up to Denver. Find me the biggest building you can. Get the finest piano available for Helen. Fill the place up with chairs. Take out a big ad in the Denver Post and get spot announcements on all the radio stations. This is God’s business, and we’re going to do it God’s way—big!”13
Hewitt took her at her word and followed the instructions. The building had been a Montgomery Ward Company warehouse. The meeting lasted five months, during which time they moved to yet another warehouse. The first night, one hundred twenty-five people were present, the second night, over four hundred people attended. From then on, the warehouse filled to capacity every night. After five months, Kathryn announced that the meeting was over, but the people wouldn’t hear of it. One man offered to make the down payment on a permanent building and erect a huge neon sign over it which would read, “Prayer Changes Things.”
People were hungry for the Word of God. However, her main message in those years was salvation. From time to time, pastors were born again at her invitation to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. Kathryn’s was a ministry of hope and faith. During this time, Helen had developed a choir of one hundred voices and composed much of the music they sang.
Because the response to Kathryn’s ministry was so great, she agreed to stay in Denver. Everything seemed to be flawless, so they began to search for a permanent building. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, tragedy struck.
Early ministry years
PAPA IS GONE
Kathryn experienced the first real trauma of her life in late December of 1934, when her beloved father was killed in an accident. She learned much later that he had fallen on an icy street and had been struck by a car that swerved to try to miss him in a snowstorm.
Because of the storm, it was hours before a friend could reach Kathryn in Colorado. Upon receiving the news that her father was near death, she started home, driving in blizzard conditions from Denver across Kansas toward Missouri. She said only God knew how fast she drove on icy roads and in near-zero visibility.
On December 30, Kathryn had made it to Kansas City. From there she called home to tell her father that she was almost home, only to find that he died early that morning.
She arrived home to find Papa laid out in his casket in the living room with the mourners keeping the traditional vigil. The trauma was almost more than Kathryn could bear. Hate welled up inside her toward the youth who drove the car that struck her father.
“I had always been a happy person, and Papa had helped to make me happy. Now he was gone, and in his place, I was battling unfamiliar strangers of fear and hate.
“I had the most perfect father a girl ever had. In my eyes, Papa could do no wrong. He was my ideal.”
Kathryn had left home more than ten years earlier, visiting only a few times in between. Now her Papa would never be able to hear her preach. Later, she related that the hatred for the young man who killed her father seethed within her, and she spewed out this venom about the accident to everyone—until the day of the funeral.
“Sitting there in the front row of the little Baptist church, I still refused to accept my father’s death. It couldn’t be.”
“Sitting there in the front row of the little Baptist church, I still refused to accept my father’s death. It couldn’t be
…One by one, my family rose from their seats and filed by the coffin. My two
sisters. My brother. Only I was left in the
pew. “The funeral director walked over and said, ‘Kathryn, would you like to see your father before I close the casket?’
“Suddenly I was standing at the front of the church, looking down— my eyes fixed not on Papa’s face, but on his shoulder, that shoulder on which I had so often leaned …I leaned over and gently put my hand on that shoulder in the casket. And as I did, something happened. All that my fingers caressed was a suit of clothes …Everything that box contained was simply something discarded, loved once, laid aside now. Papa wasn’t there.
“…This was the first time the power of the risen, resurrected Christ really came through to me. Suddenly, I was no longer afraid of death….as my fear disappeared, so did my hate. Papa wasn’t dead. He was alive.”14
RENEWED AND SMILIN’
Kathryn returned to Denver with a new understanding and compassion. Upon her return, a building was found and renovation began in February of 1935. On May 30 of that year, the Denver Revival Tabernacle opened with a huge neon sign over it, as promised
—”PRAYER CHANGES THINGS.” The auditorium held two thousand seats and the name of the
Tabernacle could be seen from a great distance. Thousands of people from the surrounding areas attended Kathryn’s meetings over the next four years. Services were conducted nightly except on Monday.
…the romantic involvement became publicly known between Kathryn and Waltrip, whom she
– nicknamed, “Mister.”
The revival center soon developed into an
organized church. There was no denominational affiliation. Ultimately a Sunday school was begun, and
buses were in operation to bring people to the services.
There were outreaches to prisons and nursing homes. Later on Kathryn began a radio program called, “Smiling Through.”
In 1936, many musicians and preachers ministered at the Denver Revival Tabernacle. One of those was Raymond T. Richey, a prominent evangelist, who spent three weeks at the church. Richey had been a leading pioneer in America’s earlier healing revivals.
Kathryn labeled the trauma of her father’s death as her “deepest” valley experience, but there was another valley experience that would prove to be nearly as deep.
WHAT A “TRIP”
In 1935 an evangelist named Burroughs A. Waltrip from Austin, Texas, was invited to speak at the Tabernacle. He was an extremely handsome man and eight years older than Kathryn. Soon they found themselves attracted to each other.
The only problem was that he was married and had two little boys. Kathryn seemed to ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit within her telling her that this relationship was a mistake. Shortly after his first visit to Denver, Waltrip divorced his wife and told everyone that his wife left him. However, his ex-wife, Jessie, said Waltrip believed that if you didn’t love your spouse at the time of marriage, then there was no covenant, making a person free to divorce and remarry. After Waltrip left his wife, he never returned home to her, and his two little boys never saw their father again.15
MISTER IS SPELLED M-I-S-T-A-K-E
After leaving his family, Waltrip moved to Mason City, Iowa, representing himself as a single man, to begin a revival center called Radio Chapel. He was known to be a dramatic and sensational evangelist and began daily radio broadcasts from the Chapel. Kathryn and Helen came into town to help him raise funds for his ministry.
Soon, the romantic involvement became publicly known between Kathryn and Waltrip, whom she nicknamed, “Mister.” Helen and other friends from Denver sincerely advised Kathryn not to marry the handsome evangelist, but she reasoned that his wife had left him, making him free to marry.
It should be noted that the details of Waltrip’s separation from his wife and the timing of Kuhlman’s involvement are not clear. Those who loved and appreciated her ministry kept these things quiet. Obviously, they felt that God had forgiven Kathryn of any mistakes in this relationship, so the details weren’t important.
On October 16, 1938, Kathryn announced to her Denver congregation that she planned to join the ministry with “Mister” in Mason City, Iowa. Two days later on October
18th, almost sixteen months after Waltrip’s uncontested divorce, Kathryn and Burroughs were secretly married in Mason City.
WHAT IS THE ISSUE, ANYWAY?
Let me make a point here. Divorce was not the issue. Of course, it is an issue with religious people and their self-righteous denominations, but it is not an issue to God. He lays it out very simply. According to the New Testament, there are two scriptural reasons for divorce. One spouse being involved in repeated immorality is one reason. And the other comes into play when one spouse leaves the marriage. If either one of these things happen to a person, that person is free before God and blessed to remarry. If you made a decision regarding divorce that didn’t line up with the Word of God, there is forgiveness and restoration and a new and clean beginning waiting for you. Self-righteous people and certain denominations may not give you a new beginning, but God can help you if you seek Him.
Kathryn found herself in a situation where there were lying and deceiving spirits in operation. Waltrip left his wife in Texas and divorced her, which was his first mistake. Then, he tried to cover it by embracing a deceiving doctrine and lied about it to those around him. The Kuhlman-Waltrip marriage was totally wrong from the start!
SHE ALMOST DID IT…
Kathryn chose to believe this man’s story that his wife left him. However, her heart was constantly troubled throughout their wedding plans. She found no peace in her spirit. Most people say that “Mister” didn’t love Kathryn at all. Instead, he loved her ability to draw a crowd and raise money. He was well-known for his greed and extravagant lifestyle. When he married Kathryn, people in eight different states were “hounding” him for money.
Even “Mister’s” mother begged Kathryn not to marry her son. She had hoped he would come to his senses and re-unite with his wife and sons. You may ask, then why did Kathryn go ahead with the marriage?
Before the scheduled marriage in Mason City, Kathryn discussed the issue with her friends, Lottie Anthony and Helen. Lottie remembers Kathryn saying, “I just can’t seem to find the will of God in this matter.” The women tried to convince Kathryn to wait and follow the peace of God. But she would not listen to them.
When the three women arrived in Des Moines on the way to Mason City, Helen announced to Kathryn that she wouldn’t go through with it. She remained at their hotel. Lottie agreed with Helen and also refused to attend the wedding.
But Kathryn found another friend to witness the marriage between her and Waltrip. Kathryn fainted during the ceremony. Waltrip helped to revive her so that she could finish the vows. The deliberate decision to step out of the will of God obviously weighed heavily upon her.
As the newly weds drove back to Des Moines from the ceremony, Kathryn did an odd thing. After the couple checked into their hotel, Kathryn refused to stay with her new husband. Her close friend Lottie Anthony states that Kathryn jumped in the car and drove to her and Helen’s hotel.
Kathryn sat in their hotel room, weeping and admitting she had made a mistake with
the marriage and would get an annulment. Lottie called Waltrip, informing him of Kathryn’s plans. As Waltrip complained of losing his wife, Lottie snapped, “She was never yours in the first place!”
The three women left Des Moines, hoping to explain the situation away to the Denver congregation. But the congregation never gave her a chance. They were furious with her for taking the situation so lightly and for the secrecy of the marriage. Lottie said that the Denver congregation “drove her back into Waltrip’s arms.”16
THE SHATTERED DREAMS
The work Kathryn had so diligently built over the previous five years quickly disintegrated. Hewitt bought out Kathryn’s share of the building, and Helen went to work for a smaller church in Denver. The “sheep” scattered. Because of this grievous mistake, Kathryn lost her church, her close friends, and her ministry. Even her relationship with God suffered because Kathryn put “Mister” and his desires over her passion for God.
Kathryn Kuhlman, the woman some had worshipped as a “perfect Madonna,” was actually a human being, subject to human temptations. She was a great woman of God, but what made her great was her choice and action to recover from her mistake. In spite of the looks, the whispers, and the wholesale rejection, it took great faith and dogged determination to restore Kathryn’s ministry. It is said that her own mistakes produced the powerful
In spite of the looks, the whispers, and the wholesale rejection, it took great faith and dogged determination to restore Kathryn’s ministry.
revelation behind her sermons of temptation,
forgiveness, and victory.
But this action and revelation didn’t come overnight. Kathryn spent the next eight years in oblivion as far as major ministry was concerned. Six years were spent in the marriage and the next two she spent trying to find her way back to full-time ministry. Friends who traveled to Mason City the year Kathryn lived there said she would sit on the platform behind her husband and weep while he preached.
When the people of Mason City learned that Waltrip had lied about his first marriage, they stopped attending, and Radio Chapel soon closed. The few times Waltrip allowed Kathryn to minister alone were in places where no one knew she was married. At least once, a series of meetings were canceled at the last moment after the pastor who invited her was told by a member of his congregation of Kathryn’s marriage to a divorced man.17
THE PAIN OF DYING
Kathryn left Waltrip in 1944 while they were living in Los Angeles, but he didn’t get a divorce until 1947.
On one of the rare occasions when she would talk of those years and what
Kathryn Kuhlman—”The Woman Who Believed in Miracles”
happened, she said:
“I had to make a choice. Would I serve the man I loved, or the God I loved? I knew I couldn’t serve God and live with Mister. No one will ever know the pain of dying like I know it, for I loved him more than I loved life itself. And for a time, I loved him even more than God. I finally told him I had to leave, for God had never released me from my original call. Not only did I live with him, I had to live with my conscience, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit was almost unbearable. I was tired of trying to justify myself.”18
In one of her final appearances, in a question and answer session, a young man asked her how she “met her death.” He had heard her speak of this death several times.
“It came through a great disappointment, a great disappointment, and I felt like my whole world had come to an end. You know, it’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do with the things after it happens. And that goes back to the will of the Lord.
“At that time, I felt that which had happened to me was the greatest tragedy of my life. I thought I would never rise again, never, never. No one will ever know—if you’ve never died—what I’m talking about …Today, I feel it was a part of God’s perfect will for my life.”19
Kathryn commented several times how she suffered for the sake of the ministry. But actually, there were other people who suffered also. There was a wife who had been left in Texas with two small boys, needing an explanation of why they would never see their dad again. The ordeal brought great heartache to everyone who knew and loved the couple.
BOTH SIDES OF THE COIN
But from the moment she made her decision, Kathryn Kuhlman never wavered from answering the call on her life, never deviated from the path God had set for her, and never saw “Mister” again. She bought a one-way ticket to Franklin, Pennsylvania, and never turned back.
Kathryn was totally restored in her life with God. Though this was a difficult time for Kathryn, the blessings of God soon followed her. But the fate of Waltrip was uncertain. He simply dropped out of sight, not even contacting his family. According to his ex-wife Jessie, it was years later that his brother, James Waltrip, sadly discovered that Burroughs had eventually met his death in a California prison, convicted of stealing money from a woman.20
OUT OF THE CAVE
No one ever seemed to know why Kathryn picked Franklin, Pennsylvania, to begin her “comeback.” Franklin was a coal-mining city, settled by German immigrants. Perhaps she felt at home there. Perhaps it was because they accepted her there. Whatever the reason, it worked!
From Pennsylvania she went through the midwestern states and the south into West Virginia, Virginia, and the Carolinas. In some places, she was quickly accepted, in others, her past surfaced quickly and the meetings were closed. In Georgia, a newspaper took hold of the story concerning her marriage to a
…Kathryn came out of her “wilderness” and moved into the “Promised Land” of her real ministry.
divorced man and printed it. Kathryn then took a bus
back to Franklin.
In 1946, Kathryn came out of her “wilderness” and moved into the “Promised Land” of her real ministry. After an unsuccessful tour of the South, she was invited to hold a series of meetings in the fifteen hundred seat Gospel Tabernacle located in Franklin, Pennsylvania. The Tabernacle had been famous in circles since Billy Sunday preached there. And Kathryn’s meetings were so glorious in this building that it was as if the last eight years never existed.
THE MANY VOICES
Not too long after she opened her meetings at the Tabernacle, she began daily radio broadcasts from WKRZ Radio in Oil City, Pennsylvania. Response had been so great, that within a few months, she added a station in Pittsburgh.
Instead of being shunned, Kathryn was now being inundated with mail. The Oil City station finally had to bar visitors from the studio because they hindered the staff’s work.
World War II had just ended, and many luxuries were still scarce. One day, Kathryn casually mentioned over the air that she had made a run in her last pair of stockings, and soon afterwards the station was deluged with packages of nylon stockings.
The Holy Spirit moved in the days surrounding the end of the war to restore the body of Christ through the gift of healing. The great healing revivals were in full swing, and great healings were manifested through the ministries of such men as Oral Roberts, William Branham, and the late Jack Coe. The late Gordon Lindsay, founder of The Voice of Healing magazine and Christ for the Nations Bible School, published the news of these great revivals in The Voice of Healing magazine.
At this time, Kathryn was still praying mainly for people to receive salvation. But she was beginning to pray and lay hands on people who came for healing. Though she despised the term “faith healer,” she attended the meetings of these ministers hoping to find out more about this phenomenon of God. Kathryn didn’t have the slightest idea that a “healing ministry” would bring her international fame.
As she observed various tent meetings, Kathryn walked away with greater understanding. Though she always had unanswered questions about divine healing, she did establish a standard for her ministry:
“In the early part of my ministry, I was greatly disturbed over much that I saw occurring in the field of divine healing. I was confused by the many methods that I saw employed. I was disgusted with the unwise performances that I witnessed, none of which I could associate in any way whatsoever with either the action of the Holy Spirit or the nature of God.
“…To this very day, there is nothing more repulsive to me than the lack of wisdom…. There is one thing I can’t stand, and that is fanaticism—the manifestations of the flesh that bring a reproach on something that is so marvelous, something that is so sacred.”21
Kathryn went on to speak of her heartache while watching these meetings. For the rest of her life, she exhorted the people to focus and concentrate on Jesus, and nothing else. After attending a tent meeting in Erie, Pennsylvania, she said:
“I began to weep. I couldn’t stop. Those looks of despair and disappointment on the faces I had seen,
The moment Kathryn saw
in God’s Word that healing was provided for the believer at the same time as salvation, she began to understand the Christian’s relationship with the Holy Spirit.
when told that their lack of faith was
keeping them from God, were to haunt me for weeks. Was this the God of all mercy and great compassion? I left the tent, and with hot tears streaming down my face, I looked up and cried, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.'”22
It is interesting to note that Kathryn Kuhlman
chose not to associate her ministry with Gordon
Lindsay’s Voice of Healing publication. The publication was the promotional outlet for the healing evangelists of that era, and Kuhlman chose not to be a part of it. Many of these evangelists were sincere and honest, but others turned to sensationalism and used questionable methods in their ministries.
HERE COME THE MIRACLES!
The moment Kathryn saw in God’s Word that healing was provided for the believer at the same time as salvation, she began to understand the Christian’s relationship with the Holy Spirit. In 1947 she began teaching a series on the Holy Spirit. Some of the things she said during the first night of her teaching were revelations even to her. Later she spoke of being awake all that night, praying and reading more in the Word.
The second night of her meeting was a momentous occasion. A unique testimony had been given by someone who was healed in a Kathryn Kuhlman meeting. A woman stood
up and told of having been healed while Kathryn preached the night before. Without anyone laying hands on her and without Kathryn even being aware of what was happening, this woman was healed of a tumor. The woman had gone to her doctor to confirm her healing before the evening service.
On the following Sunday, the second miracle occurred. A World War I veteran who had been declared legally blind from an industrial accident, had 85 percent of his vision restored in the permanently impaired eye, and perfect eyesight restored to his other eye.
SHARK, SHERIFF AND GLORY
Once the healings and miracles began to take place, the crowds at the Tabernacle were even larger than those brought in by Billy Sunday. God began to prosper Kathryn’s ministry greatly, but the devil’s adversaries had now stepped in, attempting to undermine the working and flow of the Holy Spirit in Kathryn’s ministry.
The attack came through M. J. Maloney and the Tabernacle trustees. Maloney insisted that he receive a certain percentage of all the ministry revenue, including that which came from the radio broadcast and mailouts. Kathryn balked and Maloney threatened to sue her.
The activities surrounding this “showdown” included Maloney’s locking her out of the building. A fight ensued between Kathryn and her coal miner followers and Maloney’s men, ending in Kathryn’s partisans breaking off the padlocks so services could continue. It only ended when Kathryn’s supporters raised $10,000 and purchased an old roller skating rink in nearby Sugar Creek. They named that roller rink Faith Temple. It was twice the size of Maloney’s building and was packed from the first service.
Ironically, during this hectic and crucial time of 1947, another amazing thing happened. One night, Kathryn heard a knock on the door of her apartment. When she opened the door, there stood the sheriff dressed in street clothes. He proceeded to tell her that “Mister” had filed for divorce in Nevada and his office had received the papers that morning, naming her as the defendant.
Kathryn looked down and saw the papers in his hand. Her head remained bowed. Seeing her shame and disappointment, the sheriff reached out and touched her arm, for he had been attending Kathryn’s services and knew she had been sent by God to their area. Knowing that names of famous persons on divorce papers were often given to the media for press release, the sheriff made sure the papers remained private by delivering them personally.
The sheriff went on to reassure Kathryn that no one but the two of them would ever know of this legal action. Kathryn told the sheriff she would be grateful to him for the rest of her life.
His goodness saved Kathryn from great heartache. Seven years later reporters did find out about it, but by that time, Kathryn’s ministry had so advanced, it was not affected
by old news.
Great healing services continued at the renovated roller rink, and additional services expanded into neighboring towns and to Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown, Ohio. The Holy Spirit had found a ministry that wouldn’t try to take the credit for His deeds, nor the glory from the results of His operations. A former secretary remembered:
…signs from heaven would urge Kathryn to move to Pittsburgh.
“Miss Kuhlman was so tender toward God. I was standing in the Tabernacle after a service and could see into the radio room. There Miss Kuhlman, unaware that anyone could see her, was on her knees praising God for the service.”23
As her ministry developed, she put less emphasis on faith, and more emphasis on the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. In her meetings, there were no prayer cards, no invalid tents, and no long lines of sick people waiting for her to lay hands on them. She never accused people who failed to receive healing of being weak in their faith. It seemed that the healings took place anywhere throughout the auditorium while the people sat in their seats, looking toward Heaven and focusing on Jesus.
THE ROOF FELL IN!
At her first meeting in the Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh, the custodian told her that even opera stars couldn’t fill it, but she insisted that enough chairs be set up to fill the auditorium. It was a good thing she did, because every chair was filled.
The first service was in the afternoon, and the hall was packed. A second meeting was held that evening to accommodate the throng. Jimmy Miller and Charles Beebee ministered in music at these services, and remained in ministry with Kathryn until the end.
The radio ministry continued to expand, and by November of 1950, the people began to urge Kathryn to relocate to Pittsburgh permanently. Even Maggie Hartner, the woman who became her “right arm” agreed they should move. Kathryn was reluctant, feeling committed to the people in Franklin who had stood by her and supported her, and had taken her in and loved her when no one else would.
But signs from heaven would urge Kathryn to move to Pittsburgh. In response to pleas that she move, Kathryn announced:
“No! The roof on Faith Temple literally would have to cave in before
I’d believe God wanted me to move to Pittsburgh.”
On Thanksgiving, 1950, the temple’s roof fell in under the weight of the greatest snowfall in area history.24
Three weeks later, Kathryn moved to the Pittsburgh suburb of Fox Chapel, where she lived until her death.
“I WANT TO BE LIKE AIMEE”
In 1950, a worldwide ministry began to develop. In later years, Kathryn said that God didn’t call her to build a church, maintaining that her ministry was not to be isolated to any one building. Some may be called to build buildings, but she wasn’t one of those.
The fact that she did build churches was largely overshadowed by the publicity of the miracle services. The Kathryn Kuhlman Foundation, established in Pittsburgh, financed more than twenty churches in foreign mission fields with nationals as pastors.
Many call her “pastor” out of love and respect, but Kathryn was never ordained to the office of pastor. After her stay in Denver, she never pastored a church. Kathryn said she was not called to a five-fold office, i.e., Ephesians 4:11. She walked in the simplicity of being “a handmaiden” of the Lord.
It is said by those closest to her, that Kathryn announced at the very beginning of her ministry, that she would be the next Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the Four Square denomination. Aimee was definitely Kathryn’s role model. When the flamboyant “Sister” built Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, Kathryn was present during its highest popularity. It is said that Kathryn attended Aimee’s Bible school, and sat in the balcony of her church, taking in every aspect of the anointed messages and theatrics of “Sister”. Unlike the other L I F E . Bible School students, Kathryn chose not to stay with the Four Square denomination. She chose an independent route. It is interesting to note that Rolf McPherson, Aimee’s son, doesn’t remember Kathryn being a student at the school.25
Though she never met Aimee personally, the effects of her ministry rubbed off on Kathryn. There was a major difference between the two: Aimee taught people to seek for the baptism in the Holy Spirit; Kathryn thought to “seek for it” was a divisive practice. Kathryn was Pentecostal but didn’t make an issue of it. People had always compared Kathryn with Aimee, but it was six years after Aimee’s premature death before Kathryn made the national headlines.26
A MEDIA CHURCH
Kathryn’s messages were heard all over the United States and various places overseas, via short-wave radio broadcast. It seemed that America could hardly wait to hear that warm, pleasant voice ask listeners at the beginning of her program, “Hello, there, and have you been waiting for me?”
Her radio program was not religious or stuffy. Instead, the program made a person feel as though Kathryn Kuhlman had just dropped by for coffee. She ministered to the needs, concerns, and hurts of her audience, and her encouragement changed lives. She frequently chuckled, making the listener feel as though they had just had a heart-to-heart talk with her. If she wanted to cry—she cried; if she wanted to sing—she sang. Kathryn
had the ability to minister over radio just as she ministered in public. Not many could do that, but Kathryn did. By popular demand, the Kuhlman Foundation was requested to supply her old-recorded radio tapes to the radio stations for six years after her death!
For more than eight years before her death, her weekly television program was aired nationwide. At the time, her program was the longest running half-hour series produced in the CBS studios, though it didn’t air on the CBS network.
IT HAD TO BE “KATHRYN’S” WAY
If it looked like she wouldn’t have freedom, or
if questionable people were present who might taint
her ministry, she canceled. It has been said that even
“those in charge were not in charge” when Kathryn
Her meetings were moved from Carnegie Hall to
the First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, and for years these sessions were attended by some of the most elite Bible scholars in Pittsburgh. For the last ten years of her life, she held monthly services at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, where she ministered to countless thousands, and hundreds were healed. She also spoke at large churches, conferences, and international meetings. She especially enjoyed ministering at the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, a layman’s organization founded by Demos Shakarian in Los Angeles.
It was several years before Kathryn would consent to integrate the miracle services with other conferences. She felt the confinements of a general conference, with schedules and time limits, might restrict the liberty of the Spirit that was so a part of her meetings.
If another group wanted Kathryn to speak for them, they had to adjust their program to fit her style. She knew that God had called her to minister a certain way, and there would be no changes. If it looked like she wouldn’t have freedom, or if questionable people were present who might taint her ministry, she canceled. It has been said that even “those in charge were not in charge” when Kathryn was present.27
SHE DIED A THOUSAND TIMES
Kathryn never preached against smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages. She didn’t advocate their use, but she refused to alienate people. Also, she didn’t like the way that some of the healing evangelists ministered. Kathryn felt it was “rough,” and she would not support that type of ministry.
She never taught that sickness was from the devil. She avoided the subject, pointing instead to how big God is. She felt if she could turn the eyes of the people toward God, then everything would fall into place. Early in her ministry, she encouraged people to leave their denomination. In her later years, Kathryn encouraged them to return and be a shining light and a healing force.28
It is said that Kathryn’s life was a prayer. Traveling constantly, she didn’t have conventional times of devotion, so she learned to make wherever she was her prayer closet. Before her meetings, Kathryn would be seen “pacing back and forth, head up, head down, arms flung into the air, hands clasped behind her back.” Her face would be covered in tears. It seemed she was pleading with the Lord, saying, “Gentle Jesus, take not Your Holy Spirit from me.”29
Though this depth of prayer would seem to be a personal thing, it wasn’t so with Kathryn. Many times, she would be interrupted with a question, which she would answer, then she would resume the same depth of prayer at the point of interruption. Oral Roberts described her relationship with the Spirit this way:
“It was like they were talking back and forth to each other, and you couldn’t tell where
Kathryn started and the Holy Spirit left off. It was a oneness.”30
People from all walks of life and denominations
came to her meetings: Catholics, Episcopals, Baptists, Pentecostals, drunkards, the sick, the dying, the deeply spiritual and the unconverted. And Kathryn knew she was the vessel who would point them to God. In some way, she could cross every barrier and bring them all to the same level of understanding. How could she do this? I believe it was because she lived in such surrender to the Holy Spirit. She always said, “I die a thousand deaths before every service.”31
Though there were thousands upon thousands of miracles, the greatest miracle to Kathryn was when a person became born again.
Being an ecumenical evangelist, Kathryn never permitted the spiritual gifts of tongues, the gift of interpretation, or prophecy to operate in her services. If someone repeatedly spoke in tongues loudly enough to disturb, she discreetly had them removed from the service. Kathryn believed in all the gifts of the Spirit, but didn’t want to do anything that would hinder or distract the uninitiated from a simple belief in God.
However, she did allow people to be “slain in the Spirit.” Many came to believe in the awesome power of God from witnessing this manifestation alone. Kathryn offered this simple explanation:
“All I can believe is that our spiritual beings are not wired for God’s full power, and when we plug in to that power, we just can’t survive it. We are wired for low voltage, God is high voltage through the Holy Spirit.”32
She never left the platform, even when a musician or soloist ministered. She usually stepped to the side, but always remained in the view of the audience, standing, smiling, and lifting her hand to God.
Kathryn was always aware that she would, one day, stand before the Lord and give an account for her ministry. She never believed she had been God’s first choice for the ministry. She believed a man had been called to do it, but was not willing to pay the price. She was never quite sure if she was even second choice or third choice, but she did know that she had answered “yes” to the Lord. Her ministry stands out as one of the leading ministries, if not the leading ministry, of the Charismatic Movement.
TOO MANY TO NAME…
What were some of the outstanding miracles? Though there were thousands upon thousands of miracles, the greatest miracle to Kathryn was when a person became born again. On one occasion a five-year-old boy, crippled from birth, walked to Kathryn’s platform without assistance. On another, a woman, who had been crippled and confined to a wheelchair for twelve years, walked to the platform without aid from her husband. A man in Philadelphia, who had received a pacemaker eight months earlier, felt intense pain in his chest after Kathryn laid hands on him. Returning home, he found the scar gone from his chest where the pacemaker had been implanted, and he couldn’t tell if the pacemaker was functioning. Later, when the doctor took X-rays, he discovered the pacemaker was gone and the man’s heart healed!
It was common for tumors to dissolve, cancers to fall off, the blind to see and the deaf to hear. Migraine headaches were healed instantly. Even teeth were divinely filled. It would be impossible to list the miracles that the ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman witnessed! God alone knows.
Kathryn was known to weep for joy as she watched the thousands being healed through the power of God. Some even remember her teardrops falling on their hands.
Screen stars were coming to her meetings. Even comedienne Phyllis Diller recommended one of Kathryn’s books to a dying fan.
It is also said that Kathryn would weep as she watched the people leave who remained sick or in wheelchairs. She never tried to explain why some received their healing and some did not. She believed the responsibility remained with God. She liked to refer to herself as in sales, not management. Whatever Management decided to do, she would have to oblige. But she did say it would be one of the first questions
she would ask God when she got to heaven!
In August of 1952, Kathryn preached to over fifteen thousand under Rex Humbard’s tent in Akron, Ohio. On the pre-dawn hours before Kathryn’s first Sunday service, the Humbard’s were awakened by a loud knock on their mobile home door. It was a policeman who said, “Reverend Humbard, you’re gonna have to do something. There’s nearly eighteen thousand people out at that tent.” It was 4:00 A.M. in the morning, and the service was not scheduled to start until 11:00 A .M . that morning.
“Be set free in Jesus’ name!”
“Don’t you just love Him, honey?”
Kathryn, being used to crowds of people who couldn’t all fit under one roof or into one tent, told Humbard there was only one thing to do, they would have to start the service at 8:00 A.M. And that’s what they did! Maude Aimee, Rex’s wife, remembered that Kathryn ministered until 2:30 P.M. that afternoon.
After these meetings, the Humbards parked their mobile home in Akron and subsequently built one of the largest churches and television ministries of that era—the
1960s and 1970s. Kathryn and the Humbards also built a lifelong friendship as a result of
their Akron experience.
Around this time, Kathryn was diagnosed with suffering from an enlarged heart and defective mitral valve. Yet, she kept going, remaining entirely dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
GLITTER AND THE FALLING STARS
By now, Kathryn had become a celebrity figure in the Christian as well as the secular world. Screen stars were coming to her meetings. Even comedienne Phyllis Diller recommended one of Kathryn’s books to a dying fan.33 The Pope granted Kathryn a private audience in the Vatican, and gave her a pendant engraved with a dove. The largest cities in America were presenting her with the “key” to their cities. Even the nation of Viet Nam gave her a Medal of Honor for her contributions to the hurting.
Of course, in the midst of honor came attacks. Some she was able to ignore. But there were others that wounded her deeply. Among those were the betrayals of her employees, Dino Kartsonakis and his brother-in-law, Paul Bartholomew.
In short, Dino and his brother-in-law demanded a high pay increase in their contracts after they discovered the Kuhlman Foundation had signed a multimedia contract.
Kathryn had greatly enjoyed Dino’s company. No doubt many of her crusade audiences remember how she fondly introduced him, saying with a great sweep of her arms, “And now, heeere’s DeeeeNo!” Kathryn had taken Kartsonakis out of obscurity and launched him into an international ministry. It was said that she dressed him in the finest of clothes and exalted his name constantly before the media.
But Dino seemed to have fallen under the influence of his brother-in-law, Paul Bartholomew. Though Bartholomew had been the highest paid person on staff, he wanted more, and eventually sued Kathryn for an outrageous sum of money. And when Kathryn didn’t approve of Dino’s publicized relationship with a secular show-girl, he became bitter and also demanded more money. As a result, Kathryn fired them both. But not before they made many public accusations concerning her character that were heard around the world.34
In her later years, Kathryn didn’t spend much time analyzing the character of her staff members. Instead, she chose people she simply enjoyed, but often the enjoyment she received was short-lived and heartache followed. It is possible that her mistakes in hiring
came from her physical and mental exhaustion. Her schedule-was tremendously hectic. Though she was warned that the hiring of Bartholomew and Kartsonakis was a mistake, Kathryn hired them anyway, resulting in the foregoing fiasco.
Though there may have been mistakes made in judgment, lack of understanding, and mistakes made through the people around her, she never allowed flesh to participate in any of the movings of the Holy Spirit, and she never took any of the credit. Kathryn Kuhlman always gave the glory to God.
With the ministry continuing in full swing, major denominations gave Kathryn credit for having the purest ministry of the Holy Spirit in their time. Kathryn had no hidden agendas and no ulterior motives, what you saw was what you got. She never pretended to have answers that she didn’t have, and she was always concerned that she might grieve the Holy Spirit. She remained committed, submitted, honest, and sincere as long as she lived.
HOW CAN YOU MISS THE BLEACHERS?
In 1968, Kathryn ministered for Pat Robertson and his associate, Jim Bakker, to a crowd of over three thousand people. Shortly after the meeting began, a row of bleachers broke loose and fell back against the wall. Many fell to the floor or were suspended in the air. The emergency squad arrived and carried some away on stretchers. Folding chairs replaced the bleachers, and the meeting finally returned to normal—yet, Miss Kuhlman oblivious to it all, was half-way through her sermon!
Was it possible that Kathryn knew she would never return to the platform? Was it possible that, at that moment, she said good-bye to her
During 1968, Kathryn traveled internationally to Israel, Finland, and Sweden. She was guest on The Johnny Carson Show, The Dinah Shore Show, and many others. Though Kathryn was very diplomatic and accepted among all kinds of people, she still manifested the power of the Holy Spirit in her life on all of these media programs. It was said that the employees of the CBS studios always knew when Kathryn entered the building, because the whole
atmosphere seemed to change.
In 1975, though now in her late sixties and weakened from her physical ailment, Kathryn made a ministry trip to Jerusalem to speak at the Second World Conference on the Holy Spirit. Despite her age and ailments, she was still spunky when it came to ministry.
Kathryn had heard that Bob Mumford was going to be a featured speaker there, and threatened to cancel her appearance because of it. She said his teachings on discipleship were complete heresy and she wouldn’t participate. In the end though, Kathryn went to Israel and helped many of the Middle Easterners experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL
The last miracle service of Kathryn Kuhlman’s ministry was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, on November 16, 1975. As she left the building, an employee in Miss Kuhlman’s Hollywood office saw something she would never forget.
As everyone left the auditorium, Kathryn walked quietly to the end of the stage. She raised her head and slowly scanned the balcony, as if she was gazing at every seat. It seemed like an eternity. Then, Kathryn dropped her gaze to the second balcony, following every row and every seat with her eyes. Then, she looked at the ground floor, studying every seat.35
We can only imagine what was going through Kathryn’s mind, the memories, the victories, the healings, the laughter, and the tears. Was it possible that Kathryn knew she would never return to the platform? Was it possible that, at that moment, she said good-bye to her earthly ministry?
In just a little over three weeks from that
November date, Kathryn lay dying in the Hillcrest
Kathryn Kuhlman was a special treasure. Her ministry pioneered the way for us to know the Holy Spirit in our generation.
She attempted to show us how to fellowship with Him and how to love Him. She truly had the ability to reveal the Holy Spirit to us as our Friend.
Medical Center of Tulsa, Oklahoma, after open-heart surgery.
By now, Kathryn had given complete control of her ministry to Tink Wilkerson, formerly in the automobile business in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Wilkerson is the son of the late Jeannie Wilkerson, who was a true prophetess of the Lord.
Wilkerson was with Kathryn for only a short ten months. She trusted Wilkerson. He was the one who chose where she would have the heart surgery. After her death, she left the majority of her estate to him. When the former Kuhlman staff was questioned about him, there was division. Some felt Wilkerson deceived Kathryn, others felt he was sent by God for her final hour. However, the media ran rampant with questions of why Wilkerson received so much of Kathryn’s estate, and Maggie Hartner, her associate for years, received so little.
In 1992, Wilkerson was convicted in two U.S. district courts in Oklahoma for fraud in a former auto business. He was scheduled for release from prison in the summer of 1993 at which time he planned to write a book on his and his wife’s friendship with Kathryn.36
Wilkerson has kept quiet for all these years, possibly out of respect. I believe he has a story that needs to be told.
“I WANT TO GO HOME”
Oral and Evelyn Roberts were among a few of the visitors permitted to see Kathryn in
Hillcrest Medical Center. As they walked into her room and went to her bedside to pray for
her healing, Oral remembers a significant occurrence. “When Kathryn recognized that we were there to pray for her recovery, she put her hands out like a barrier and then pointed toward heaven.” Evelyn Roberts looked at Oral and said, “She doesn’t want our prayers. She wants to go home.”
Kathryn’s sister Myrtle received the same message from Kathryn. She told Wilkerson, “Kathryn wants to go home.”37
The wonderful red-headed lady who introduced the ministry of the Holy Spirit to our generation and thrilled the hearts of millions, finally received her heart’s desire. It was said that the Holy Spirit descended upon her one more time and her face began to shine. The nurse in her room noticed a glow that enveloped her bed, creating an indescribable peace.38 At 8:20 P.M. on Friday, February 20, 1976, Kathryn Kuhlman went home to be with Jesus. She was sixty-eight years old.
Oral Roberts presided over her funeral at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Kathryn was buried in the same cemetery a half mile from Aimee Semple McPherson’s vault. Oral had a vision, at Kathryn’s death, that God would raise up and spread similar ministries throughout the world, making the magnitude of God’s power greater than He did through Kathryn’s life.
Kathryn Kuhlman was a special treasure. Her ministry pioneered the way for us to know the Holy Spirit in our generation. She attempted to show us how to fellowship with Him and how to love Him. She truly had the ability to reveal the Holy Spirit to us as our Friend. So no one can close this chapter as well as she:
“The world called me a fool for having given my entire life to One whom I’ve never seen. I know exactly what I’m going to say when I stand in His presence. When I look upon that wonderful face of Jesus, I’ll have just one thing to say: ‘I tried.’ I gave of myself the best I knew how. My redemption will have been perfected when I stand and see Him who made it all possible.”39
1 Roberts Liardon, Kathryn Kuhlman: A Spiritual Biography of God’s Miracle
Working Power (Laguna Hills, CA: Embassy Publishing Company, 1990), 68.
2 Helen Hosier, Kathryn Kuhlman: The Life She Led, the Legacy She Left (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1971), 38.
3 Jamie Buckingham, Daughter of Destiny: Kathryn Kuhlman… Her Story
(Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1976), 17-18.
4 Hosier, Kathryn Kuhlman: The Life She Led, 32-33.
5 Buckingham, Daughter of Destiny, 23.
6 Hosier, Kathryn Kuhlman, 44.
7 Buckingham, Daughter of Destiny, 70-71.
8 Sermon by Kuhlman, “Not Doing What We Like, But Liking What We Have To
9 “A Tribute to the Lord’s Handmaiden,” quoted from the Abundant Life Magazine (Tulsa, OK: Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, May 1976), cover.
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