A Tribute to Harald Bredesen (1918-2006)

One of our dearest friends and a founding board member of our ministry, Grace World Mission, went home to be with the Lord just a few days ago on December 29.

We had just come home from a two-month mission trip to Europe and had barely unpacked our bags when I was talking on the phone with Harald Bredesen and making plans for us to get together for lunch. He sounded so strong and alert on the phone, what a shock that he would pass away just a few short days after our conversation.

The night before we were to get together, I received a call that Harald had taken a bad fall down the stairs and fractured his skull. The next few days were spent at the hospital by his side, taking in the last few precious moments beside a great man of God before he left us to be home with the Lord.
Bryan Marleaux and Harald Bredesen in 1998        
In light of his passing, we are grateful that right before we left on our trip we had some blessed times with him, just hanging out and eating dinner in his kitchen, making different types of food and all kinds of crazy desserts, Harald pushing us to dig further into the deep freeze in his garage late into the evening to find what other delightful toppings we could add to all the different sundaes we were creating. Harald was one of the few people who loved food more than we did!

We also had a very historic and unique opportunity before our trip to arrange an important, and, in hindsight, significant last meeting between two of the greatest pioneers and leaders of the world renown Charismatic Renewal; Harald and Jean Stone Willans were together one last time as we drove Harald up to the Pasadena area to visit the Willans’ church service and afterwards were able to interview Harald and Jean on camera regarding some key aspects of the Charismatic Renewal and their central roles in it. (We’ll have a video of this available in the future.)
Bryan and Mercedes Marleaux with
Harald and John Ruttkay grabbing
a bite after a Grace World Mission
board meeting.
Left to Right: Rick Willans, Bryan, Harald, Mercedes, Jean Stone Willans, Geoff & Sarah Craighead, and a friend.
Harald and Jean Stone Willans,
two giants of the Charismatic Renewal.
Harald and Jean coined the term Charismatic Renewal and spent many years together pioneering the renewal as they held many “Christian Advance” meetings ministering the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” to so many.

Harald is actually known as the first Charismatic as he is the first mainline minister who received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in 1946 while still remaining within the Lutheran denomination, even though he was almost forced to leave because of his experience with the Spirit.

As well as being such an important figure in the historic “Charismatic Renewal” he has many other credits to his ministry such as mentoring and helping Pat Robertson begin CBN as well as impacting and influencing many other well-known ministers and figures such as David Wilkerson, Pat Boone, Dale Evans Rogers, John Sherrill, Jack Hayford, and on and on. He has also ministered to world leaders like Anwar Sadat, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Menachem Begin, amongst many others.
Hanging out in the Jacuzzi, food and hot tubbing were some of his favorite earthly things owing to his Norwegian roots.
  Harald and Patrick sharing some love on
our couch, not only a spiritual father but
a grandfather too.

One of the great legacies, yet lesser know aspects of his life, however, was what one of my professors Bobby Clinton from Fuller Theological Seminary, the school I graduated from, calls “Convergence,” a term Clinton coined, which includes as one of its main aspects the point when a mature and seasoned minister, that is well established and on in years, sees the importance of pouring himself into younger people as a preparation for the equipping of the next generation. An important aspect of ministry that, as Clinton points out, “few ministers ever reach nor unfortunately see the need to pursue.”

Mercedes and I feel so blessed to be included amongst those whom Harald took the opportunity to spend time with. Over the past 14 years we have been so blessed to have had many precious moments of fellowship, friendship, and discipling with such a giant in the faith, a man who was so full of experiences and treasures of the Kingdom of God! God also used him in both of our lives as neither of us ever had much of a relationship with our own earthly fathers. He was to us, as to many others, a “Father in the Spirit.”

Harald and Bryan baptizing Bryan's younger brother Dana, after Bryan just led him to the Lord. Immersing him in the pool at Harald's housing complex.
Rick Willans and Bryan praying for Harald back in October 2006 in Pasadena.
Mercedes and Patrick and Harald having a little feast with yet more chicken sandwiches.

God often used Harald in a discipling way with us and there were some wild things that would happen when God would use him to deal with an area of life that needed some kind of shaking up. Amongst some of the crazy experiences that come to mind with Harald was a time years ago when we were taking a prayer walk with him, which was one of his favorite things to do. We ended up in a mall going through stores, as Harald led the way speaking out loudly in tongues and shouting “Praise God!” while he had us locked in his arms. God was using Harald, who liked to do this, to eradicate the “fear of man” in our lives. The pinnacle came when, as we continued walking, I noticed a surf shop. I silently hoped that Harald would take us nowhere near it. As a lifelong surfer there could be nothing more uncool than going into a surf shop with an older person blabbering in some weird unknown language and shouting “Praise God!” God, apparently, is not a fan of looking cool—just a form of pride—and in we went, and the crucifixion of the prideful self was dealt a seriously needed blow!

Meeting Harald for the first time back in 1993 was an equally wild adventure. I first talked with him on the phone while he was eating a chicken sandwich and telling me as he gulped it down (with many sound effects to go with it!), what a great sandwich it was and how he wished he could give me a bite. "This guy is a trip!" I thought. What a fun trip it was getting to know him! We came to his house that day and were placed in an old office of his while we waited for over an hour to see him. Investigating around, I noticed lots of exercise equipment, stair climbers and treadmills, with a different telephone connected to each one. "Boy, this guy likes to workout and talk, doesn't he!" I quipped to Mercedes, an assessment that was confirmed even more when another phone was found down in a cement hole with a cover right by his Jacuzzi. We were finally invited in to see him, and another person supposed to have a meeting with him that day got lost on the way, which meant we had the rest of the day with the renowned Charismatic pioneer.

We talked and then moved into eating dinner, and while we were in the middle of it, with mouths full of food Harald grabbed our hands and started praying in tongues and then blurted out: "Are you folks full Gospel?" I responded, "I think so." I wasn't sure what he was asking... "If you mean Spirit filled, that we are," I said. Harald grabbed our hands again and started praying in tongues once more and then began praying for us and the glory of God descended upon all of us as we sat weeping, laughing, rejoicing and worshipping. Harald began to prophesy over us regarding God's plans for our lives and ministry and we were incredibly blessed, encouraged, and ministered to, and an indelible bond of friendship and fellowship was formed that day that continued until the day he went home to be with the Lord.

We’ll forever treasure the many blessed and wonderful times, memories and experiences with one of God’s precious servants. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. (Psalms 116:15)

We are also blessed to have a short video clip of Harald endorsing our ministry.
(Length: 2 minutes)
YouTube Version
Windows Media Version
Quicktime Version

The news headlines and other websites are filling up with articles on Harald, click here to link to a few stories as well as a more in depth background on Harald's ministry.

Some more video and audio on revivals and outpourings:
The Birth of the Modern Pentecostal Movement
The Birth of the Charismatic Renewal
The Jesus People Revival
The Great Awakening
Cane Ridge Revival
George Whitefield and the 18th Century Revivals

Hanging out with Harald in our old ramshackle 330 sq. ft. apartment. Harald would often come over and pray "Oh God when are you going to get these precious servants of yours out of this misery." A prayer and prophecy that, praise God, Harald got to see fulfilled through a miracle that God performed through a dear friend of both of ours. Harald here still eating those beloved chicken sandwiches.