A funeral has been held for Olive Heiligenthal, the young daughter of Bethel Church worship leader, Kalley Heiligenthal. The influential California faith community has been thrust into the media spotlight over recent weeks after Kalley and Andrew Heiligenthal called on their community to pray for their daughter to be resurrected after she stopped breathing on December 16.
The charismatic church spent the best part of a week pleading for the 2-year-old to be raised from the dead, holding worship and prayer services in a bid to invoke the miraculous. Yesterday, however, the Bethel family was forced to face the excruciating reality of saying goodbye to the little one for good.
“Yesterday, our community buried little Olive Heiligenthal,” worship leader Jenn Jonhson posted to Instagram. “The past two weeks I’ve been at a loss for words. Four of the past five years, Brian and I have contented for life with someone on our team or family during the holidays. One lived, three died.”
Johnson added that this time has “been brutal” and that, this year, she was “just angry”
“Not angry with God,” the “God I Look to You” singer qualified, “but at the great loss for our family at the holidays.”
Johnson noted that, over the past two weeks, the Bethel community had “felt the nearness of the Holy Spirit through it all.”
“We worshiped God for who He is together as a community. Not so He would raise her but because He’s worthy,” she said.
A few days after Bethel began calling for people to pray for Olive’s raising, lead pastor Bill Johnson released a video explaining why they were engaging in the bold act of faith.
“We have a Biblical precedent,” he said of the specific prayer request. “Jesus raised the dead. Not only that, he introduced himself as ‘the resurrection and the life.’”
Pastor Bill went on to address the question as to whether or not, through praying for a miracle, his church is “interrupting the sovereignty of God.”
“First of all, we don’t ever want to violate the sovereignty of God,” he explained. “But my question is ‘why did Jesus raise the dead?’ The reason Jesus raised the dead is because not everyone dies in God’s timing.”
In her latest Instagram post, Kalley insisted that despite the miracle not occurring, her family is convinced, more than ever, that “King Jesus is good and His every word is worth believing and following at any cost.”
“That’s the song we’ll sing until we’re with you again and we finally sing it together. We cannot wait,” she added. “It’s a new day, and we’re awake for it. This is a victory story.”
Do keep the family in your prayers during this difficult time.