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Kathryn Khulman women in the spotlight

Spotlight On: Kathryn Kuhlman

My first glimpse of this lady was an image on the cover of a book my Mom owns called “God Can Do It Again”, copyrighted in 1969, the year I was born. As a child, when looking at the front cover of the book, that image seemed to scare me and it remains a mystery to me, because this lady has become my favourite 20th century faith heroine. Allow me to tell you why.

In my early twenties (not too long ago), I was introduced to Kathryn in a book by Benny Hinn called “The Anointing”. That created a longing in me to know more about this remarkable lady. Since then, I’ve read several books about her, including two biographies: “Daughter of Destiny” by Jamie Buckingham, and “The Woman Behind the Miracles” by Wayne E Warner, and I’ve been looking at video, DVD and other video footage that I could find about her.

To this day, God’s light and love can be seen radiating through her eyes when you watch visual footage of her. Kathryn understood the value of worship, and was the one who made the claim that the Holy Spirit is not just a ghost or an “it” but a Person, in fact, the Third Person of the Trinity, a reality to me. The one thing that she was probably most famous for to the rest of the world in her day, was the startling miracles of healing that took place in the meetings she conducted.

This lady hosted TV programmes, radio programmes, ministered to thousands upon thousands of people and personally met many dignitaries, Hollywood stars and even Pope Paul in 1972. Oh and I have to add this one- she also hosted Tante Corrie Ten Boom on one of her TV programmes, called “I Believe In Miracles”. Corrie Ten Boom was the first formidable lady written about in “Spotlight On”, if this is the first time you’re reading the magazine.

Kathryn was the third child of Joseph Adolf Kuhlman and Emma Walkenhorst, born on 7 May 1907 on the 160- acre family farm, about 5 miles from Concordia, Missouri. Concordia was settled by German immigrants who began arriving in the late 1830’s. Thus, Kathryn was of German-American descent. She had a happy childhood, could twist her father around her little finger, and even though her mother was the disciplinarian, she never felt unloved a single day in her life as she grew up in their family home. Joseph was a successful businessman and even served as the Mayor of Concordia from 1922 until 1924, and then again from 1926 until 1932. It is said that she got her business savvy from her father.

Church-wise, Joseph was a Baptist, but only attended church on special occasions. Emma was a Methodist and a very devout Christian who even gave Sunday School classes. Kathryn gave her life to the Lord at the age of 14 and the rest is history as they say. She completed grade 10 in High School and then started travelling on the evangelical trail with her sister and brother-in-law, Myrtle and Everett Parrot. And so her journey in ministry began.

In 1928, Kathryn and her friend Helen Gulliford, a gifted pianist who had joined their evangelical team a few years earlier, branched out on their own, as Myrtle re-joined her husband, who was preaching in South Dakota at the time. This was the start of The Kathryn Kuhlman Ministry. Kathryn preached and Helen handled the music. They called themselves “God’s Girls”. Sometimes they had to sleep in turkey houses, and if venues needed cleaning before they could have meetings there, they did that too, but they remained faithful and the ministry continued to grow. On 30 May 1935 they opened the Denver Revival Tabernacle with a huge neon sign over it: “PRAYER CHANGES THINGS”. The sign could be seen from a great distance and thousands of people from surrounding areas attended her meetings over the next four years. The building could seat 2,000 people and services were conducted nightly, except on Mondays. By this time, Helen had assembled a choir of 100 or so voices and she composed most of the music they sang.

During that same year, a traveling evangelist named Burroughs A. Waltrip from Austin Texas, was invited to speak at the Tabernacle, and they fell in love. Unfortunately, he was married and the father of two little boys. They ended up  getting married on 18 October 1938, almost 16 months after his uncontested divorce. Six years later, Kathryn bought a one- way ticket to Franklin, Pennsylvania and walked away from the marriage she knew to have been a huge mistake, and when she talked about it later in life, she called it the day Kathryn Kuhlman died. In the years that followed she tried her utmost to get back into full-time ministry and it was no easy road. She needed to endure much opposition and rejection, but stayed the course, and did what she felt the Holy Spirit led her to do to move towards restoration. Burroughs divorced her in 1947, and not much was heard of him after this.

This was also the year her new life began – so to speak – as she started to preach a series on the topic of the Holy Spirit. During her preaching on the first night, a lady in the meeting was miraculously healed of a tumour. This lady went to her Doctor the next day to have it verified medically and came to testify about it on the second night of the meetings. On the second night, a World War 1 veteran who had been legally blind due to an industrial accident had 85 percent vision restored in the permanently impaired eye, and 100 percent vision restored to the other eye, and this was only the beginning. What amazes me is that nobody prayed for them by the laying on of hands, as is usually the custom. God Himself healed them while she was preaching, and so only God could get the glory! I love it!

From this point on, she never looked back again. Her Ministry became a global one, she also prospered financially. The headquarters was in Pittsburg in the Carlton House and The Kathryn Kuhlman Foundation was established in 1957. It supported churches, donated to missions and Kathryn received a medal of honour from the (South) Vietnamese government for the Foundation’s contributions to the nation which included a military chapel, a clinic and 1,200 wheelchairs for disabled soldiers, in 1970. Once again, these are just a few of the positive impacts the Kathryn Kuhlman Foundation had on our world.

For the last 10 years of her life especially, this lady had a hectic work schedule. Apart from the regular meetings she conducted, she added monthly meetings in the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and would schedule the tapings for her television programme and interviews on other television shows during the week (at least four tapings per day) and then return to Pittsburg for her meetings and duties there. In 1955, she was diagnosed with a heart condition and advised to take things easier and slow down her pace, but Kathryn unfortunately did the opposite, and on 20 February 1976, she died in hospital (Hillcrest Medical Centre, Tulsa, Oklahoma) a few weeks after undergoing open heart surgery.

The day before she died, she told the nurses on duty what her exact time of death would be (20 February 1976 @ 01:13) and she also told them that the only flowers she wanted at her funeral were roses. That night, she died at 01:13, at which time the electricity of the entire 800- bed hospital went out (we would have thought it was a load-shedding episode!). Even after the generator kicked in, it went out again. Another phenomenon was that the hospital was filled with an overwhelming fragrance, the smell of roses. When the Supervisor came into the ward on her way to Kathryn’s room, in order to confirm the time of death, she told the nurses that she had followed the smell of roses from the other side of the hospital, and also asked them how they could allow roses in the room, as they knew it was not allowed in an “ICU” (as we know it). Their reply was that there were no flowers in the ward. You can watch the recollection of the nurse on duty that night on YouTube if you’re interested.

One article can never do justice to this remarkable lady. My aim is to introduce you to her. Kathryn was a woman, just like us. She lived, loved, made mistakes, worked very hard, was betrayed by those closest to her, but kept at it and stayed her course. Her love for God and amazing relationship with the Holy Spirit astounds me, and the love of God was evident in her matter of being and not just her matter of doing. On a plaque erected in her honour in her hometown of Concordia, is written: “Known for Belief in the Holy Spirit” and on her tombstone is written: “I believe in miracles, because I believe in God.” Yes, many contested the healings and yet there are volumes of books written filled with testimonies of healings that took place during her meetings, backed up by medical science. Documented facts. Amidst all of this, the startling miracles/ healings that took place in people’s physical bodies, Kathryn always used to say that the greatest miracle that could take place was when someone decided to surrender his/her life to the Lordship of Christ, were changed by the love of God and received eternal life.

I too believe in miracles and that God still heals us from ailments today. If ever South Africa needed instruments of positive change and healing on a national level, it is now.

Let us dare to believe that we can be such instruments in the Hands of our God Who Is LOVE.

Let us contribute to healing our nation in any way we can.

“I believe in miracles, because I believe in God.” Kathryn Kuhlman

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