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Harald Bredesen: A Passion for Christ

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Yes, LORD! Preface

By Charisma Magazine -- Harald Bredesen died on December 29, 2006, at the age of 88. Three days before, Bredesen suffered a head injury after falling at his home in Escondido, California. He was hospitalized but never regained consciousness. Yes, Lord! tells the story of this unassuming, faithful follower of Christ who fought against following in his preacher father’s footsteps and ended up influencing televangelists, Hollywood actors, world leaders and ordinary people everywhere.

Born in North Dakota in 1918 and raised in Iowa, Bredesen moved to New York City in 1944. There he launched an unconventional and far-reaching ministry, eventually becoming known as the father of the charismatic renewal. Early on, a persistent Bredesen persuaded President Harry S Truman to sponsor a Sunday School campaign, helped launch a New Testament-style church that emphasized prophetic revelations, and led M. G. “Pat” Robertson into the baptism of the Holy Spirit. “Harald was always ready to say yes to God,” Robertson said. “He spent literally hours crying out for more of the Holy Spirit.”

Having met Bredesen in New York, Robertson accompanied him to a dinner meeting with Ruth Stafford Peale, wife of Guideposts magazine founder Norman Vincent Peale. That dinner meeting led to Guideposts editor John L. Sherrill writing They Speak with Other Tongues, one of the most influential books in the early days of the charismatic renewal. The title is a phrase that Bredesen coined.

Bredesen worked with Robertson to found the Christian Broadcasting Network, served on its board of directors, and for a time hosted his own television show, Charisma. He eventually came to be called “Mr. Charisma.”

“Harald Bredesen was the original charismatic, the earliest post-World War II neo-Pentecostal from a mainline denomination to receive the Pentecostal experience and remain in his church,” said historian Vinson Synan. “His influence on Pat Robertson and others was epochal. When he prayed in tongues, it was with power and authority.”

Pat Boone was also influenced by Bredesen. At a pivotal moment in Boone’s career, Bredesen and Boone prayed together during a now-legendary walk on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. Days later, Bredesen warned Boone not to become “unequally yoked,” but he had no clue that Boone was about to sign a recording contract with unbelievers.

Whether it was standing face to face with a superstar singer or praying in tongues aloud on a Brooklyn bus, Bredesen never dodged acting on what he believed God asked of him. An appointment with a world leader didn’t dissuade him either. Janet St. Pierre, at one time Bredesen’s secretary and later an assistant to Boone, recalled that Bredesen once asked Boone to immediately write a letter of introduction for him. Bredesen was in Egypt and believed God wanted him to meet with President Anwar Sadat. He thought the Egyptian leader would respond to Boone. It worked. Bredesen spent several hours with Sadat, praying with him and conducting a television interview.

Bredesen gained audiences with other world leaders, including President Ronald Reagan and Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. One time, Bredesen, Boone and evangelist George Otis, Sr. met with then-California Governor Ronald Reagan. Otis told Reagan that if he remained faithful, he would someday occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. With Otis on one side of Reagan and Bredesen on the other, the group joined hands and prayed.

Bredesen is credited with prompting the call for prayer that Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin sent out at the beginning of their historic Camp David meetings. He later founded the Prince of Peace Foundation, which honors international peacemakers with a Christian counterpart of the Nobel Peace Prize. Sadat, Mother Teresa and Jordan’s King Hussein have been the recipients.

Until his last year, Bredesen never slowed his pace. “Harald Bredesen reflected the father heart of God with rare excellence,” evangelist Ed Silvoso said. “He took time to speak into my life and pray for me. I was blessed beyond measure to be affirmed and encouraged by this giant.”

Jack Hayford, president of the Los Angeles-based International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and pastor of The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, California, said that his friend Bredesen “was among the four or five most pivotal human instruments under God’s grace whom He used to influence leaders and impact nations during the mid-1960s to mid-1980s’ charismatic renewal.”

“Harald Bredesen had an anointing to touch key leaders of the world,” recalled Bill Hamon, who co-authored The Eternal Church with Bredesen. “He was a real prophet of God.”

Reprinted from Charisma magazine, March 2007. Used by permission.

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