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Harald Bredesen: A Passion for Christ

Share This article Pat Robertson says, “God broke the mold. There’ll never be another one like Harald.  We honor him. We bless him, and I miss his laughter.”

“Harald used to hitchhike,” Gordon Robertson recalls. “He wasn’t going anywhere.  He just wanted to spend a long period of time in a closed area with someone so that he could share the gospel with them one on one.”

Pat Boone says, “I see him shoving Lazarus out of Abraham’s bosom. ‘You’ve been here long enough.’”

He’s known as the father of the modern charismatic movement, and through books, radio, television and publications, Harald Bredesen’s  passion for Christ spilled out and touched lives around the world.  But, as the first modern charismatic minister, his background was an unusual one….

“When I received in’46, there was not one other church pastor who had received the baptism and survived in the historic church,” Harald once said. “I thought in seeking for the baptism I was walking off a cliff.”

Gordon Robertson says, “Harald was very unique. He was an ordained Lutheran minister who got filled with the Holy Spirit back in the 1940s. At that point in time that just didn’t happen.  He was actually so conscientious about it that he went to his superiors and said, ‘I need to turn in my credentials, because I know you don’t accept this teaching.' To their credit, the Lutheran Church said, ‘We’re not letting you go.’”

Harald helped a young Pat Robertson early in his ministry career. The two became friends in the late 1950s when Pat served as Harald’s assistant pastor at the First Reformed Church of Mount Vernon, New York.  But their ministry quickly exploded beyond just a small church in the Bronx.

“I was sitting having breakfast and the phone rang. It was Harald -- 7:30 in the morning. He says, ‘What are you doing tonight?’ I said, ‘What did you have in mind?’  ‘Cause you never commit yourself to Harald ‘till you find out what he has in mind.  He said, ‘Well, we’re having dinner tonight with Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale.’  I thought, you have got to be kidding.

"So he, a Presbyterian friend of ours, Dick Simmons, and I had dinner at her lovely Fifth Avenue apartment. After dinner, we began to pray. There was a message in tongues and an interpretation. Mrs. Peale was considerably moved by that experience.  She said, ‘Well, I’ve got to go to a meeting at Guideposts.’ So she excused herself and left. We, of course, left.

"She went to Guideposts and asked if they’d ever heard about this experience. The staff said they’d heard about it, but they didn’t know too much about it.  So she commissioned a man named John Sherrill, one of her staff editors to explore the phenomenon. John explored and wrote a book called, They Speak with Other Tongues, which became a national bestseller. Then Harald was able to facilitate a meeting with another guy who was up in New York at the same time named Dave Wilkerson.”

“John took an interest in what we were doing here with drug addicts and worked with me for a whole year on The Cross and the Switchblade,” Dave says. “It first appeared in Guideposts and eventually became a bestseller. This was through Harald’s contact through his prayers and his love. I know there would not have been a Cross and Switchblade book written. It wouldn’t have come without God’s vessel -- Harald’s obedience to the Lord.”

The two books triggered what came to be known as the Catholic Charismatic Revival in America.  Meanwhile, Pat left the church to pursue a word from the Lord instructing him to buy a television station. 

“In 1968 we had a dedication of it ‘cause it was ready,” Pat says. “When I got through, Harald stood behind me, and he began to prophesy.  When he began to speak to the Lord, it was real. He said, ‘This day shall seem small in your eyes compared with where I’m going to take you. For I have called you to usher in the coming of My Son.’ I’ve never forgotten it.  Yes, that was a mandate.  I knew.”

Harald’s obedience to God and his unassuming manner often influenced those around him in unexpected ways. 

Pat Boone says, “I was about 10 minutes from signing a recording contract with a record company.  I’d already recorded the album. I was proud of the album. Nobody in the company were believers that I knew. The doorbell rang, and it was Harald. He said, ‘I believe I have a scripture, a word from the Lord for you.’ He didn’t know where I was going, but he just said, ‘Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers. I don’t know what that means, do you?’ I tried to act like I’ve got to think this over, but I knew full well.”

Pat decided not to go through with the contract. Surprisingly, the company agreed to produce the record without one. Six months later…

“The company went bankrupt,” Pat Boone says. “All their assets were seized and kept for five years. If I had signed that contract, my contract would’ve been one of the assets. I wouldn’t have been recording for anybody for five years.  So not only did he let me know my own heart, he delivered me from something that was terrible.”

Meanwhile, Harald’s own ministry was growing.  His Prince of Peace Foundation granted awards to influential Christian leaders including Mother Teresa and Billy Graham.  His circle of friends included presidents and dignitaries from all over the world. 

"He and Anwar Sadat, for example, developed a great personal friendship when he interviewed him in Egypt," says Pat Robertson.

As minister to the presidents, Harald wrote and proposed a call to prayer. It was sent from Sadat, Jimmy Carter and Menachem Begin to other world leaders on the eve of the Camp David summit.  Thirteen days later, President Carter announced a breakthrough.  Harald recalls his words: “We began this summit with a call to prayer. The results have exceeded the expectations of any reasonable person. I am a Christian. Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers.’”

He was a minister, a facilitator, a mentor and a gifted writer, but most of all, Harald will be remembered by so many as a wonderful friend.

David Bredesen says, "We all will miss him, definitely, but we’ll cherish him. We’ll never forget him.  There’s so many people that have been affected by him: ministers, musicians, world leaders, all kinds of people.  They all have been touched by Dad.  But he didn’t touch them for his gain; he touched them for God’s Word.  No matter who Dad talked to, be it on a plane, out on a walk, his focus was always getting them to see what God should mean to them, what God means to him, and sharing the gospel to them.  He treated everyone the same.  So I would say that I’ll miss seeing him in action, but it definitely helps us realize and challenges us that we could do so much more.  Just see what he did."

"As this world gets worse and worse, heaven looks better and better.  I’m already savoring that moment when I’ll be amazed by the beauty of the mansion they’re showing me that I’ll be living in.  I’ll say to the angel, 'Are you sure you’re not a victim of mistaken identity?  This is all so grand.'  He’ll say, 'No, you see it’s all by grace.  Not because of you but because of Jesus.'" - Harald Bredesen

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About The Author

Amy Reid

Amy Reid has been a Features Producer with the Christian Broadcasting Network since 2003 and has a Master’s in Journalism from Regent University. When she’s not working on a story she’s passionate about, she loves to cook, garden, read and travel.