Members of Bethel Church in Redding, California prayed for a week to see 2-year-old Olive Heiligenthal raised from the dead. The daughter of Bethel worship leader Kalley Heiligenthal and Andrew Heiligenthal, Olive passed away on Saturday, December 14 after she stopped breathing in her sleep. An announcement on December 20th indicates the church has stopped praying for the miracle they so persistently sought and asked others to pray for.
“Here is where we are: Olive hasn’t been raised. The breakthrough we have sought hasn’t come,” the church announced in a message on its Bethel Music Facebook page.
The message also aims to offer some context. The church explains they have been “contending for, singing about, and witnessing God’s power to save, heal, and deliver for over fifty years.” Even if they don’t receive what they’ve prayed for, the church says “It is normal for us to ask for things, trust Him, and then glorify His name regardless of the outcome. This is what life with the King is all about.”
The Heiligenthal family sought medical help early Saturday morning. According to McClatchy News, a police investigation into Olive’s death is being conducted, which is standard procedure for such cases. “It’s by no means at this point a suspicious death—but we still have to investigate to see what happened,” Sgt. Brian Torum of the Redding Police Department told reporters. Torum also said an autopsy has been performed but that it might take months for the coroner to discover the cause of Olive’s death.
In the meantime, Bethel Church says they are “moving towards a memorial service and celebration of her life.”
Many who saw Kalley’s social media posts asking for prayer to resurrect her daughter joined in faith to pray for the miracle. Her original post on Instagram about Olive’s death received over 159,000 likes and scores of comments assuring the singer and songwriter they would pray. The hashtag #WakeUpOlive was even circulating around social media. Some, however, did not join in prayers for resurrection. Their prayers were focused on helping the family come to terms with the death of their young child instead of asking God to resurrect her.
Costi Hinn (nephew of Benny Hinn), for instance, said the theology behind Bethel Church and this latest prayer request is problematic. While Hinn says he doesn’t think it’s wrong to ask God for miracles, he says the theology behind the reason the church is asking is troublesome. In a podcast, Hinn argued that after studying the church, he came to the conclusion that its theology teaches “that signs and wonders are required, that the Gospel is not the Gospel without power and signs and wonders attached to it.” Hinn, who has broken from his uncle’s theology which is often labeled “prosperity gospel”, says the church also has a team specifically dedicated to raising people from the dead.
Even those who disagreed with Bethel Church and the Heiligenthals for praying for a resurrection have expressed their sympathy for what the family is going through. On social media, many who disagreed with the prayer request still indicated they were praying for the family, even while voicing concern that they were in denial and delaying grief from running its necessary course.
This whole situation is so triggering to me. I’m a mom of two dead baby girls. They were stillborn. They immediately were born into Heaven. I feel deep empathy for this family. I also feel like maybe this is a bit of denial of the horrific. I know. I buried children.#WakeUpOlive
— Rebecca Shrader (@Bec_Shrader) December 18, 2019
Friends of the Heiligenthals set up a Go Fund Me page shortly after Olive passed away. So far, the fund has raised over $62,000.