Pastor Benny Remembers Powerful Touch During Kathryn Kuhlman Meeting
Four days before Christmas 1973, I went with a friend of mine, Jim Poynter, on a charter bus trip from Toronto to Pittsburgh to a meeting of Kathryn Kuhlman. It would be a day that would change my life forever! I knew very little about her ministry, but when we arrived at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Pittsburgh, hundreds of people were already there, though the doors wouldn’t open for several hours. As I stood in line, I suddenly began to shake. Nothing like that had ever happened before. It didn’t stop. I was too embarrassed to tell Jim or anyone around me. Even when we got to our seats on the third row of the auditorium, the shaking continued. The longer it continued, the more beautiful it became. Then Kathryn Kuhlman appeared on stage. The atmosphere in the building changed immediately. Everyone began singing “How Great Thou Art.” Tears gushed down my face. It was a feeling of intense glory. I was literally singing the words from my soul. In my young Christian experience, God had touched me before, but never as He was touching me that day. It was as if the waves of a gentle breeze were flowing around me.
As the evangelist began ministering to the people, I was so lost in the Spirit that all I could whisper was, “Dear Jesus, please have mercy on me.” I felt so unworthy. Again and again, I said the words. The three-hour service may have seemed long to some, but to me it seemed like a fleeting moment. I saw the deaf begin to hear; I saw people rise from their wheelchairs, saw tumors vanish, and so much more. Then everything stopped. I prayed silently, “Please, Lord, don’t ever let this meeting end.”
Kathryn was burying her head in her hands, sobbing so loudly that everything came to a standstill. Then, standing just a few feet in front of me, her eyes seemed aflame as she took on a boldness I had never seen in anyone before. She began pleading as she looked out over the audience, “Please, don’t grieve the Holy Spirit!” Even today, forty years later, I can still see her eyes. It was as if they were looking straight at me. Then she said, “Don’t you understand? He’s all I’ve got!” I thought, “What is she talking about?” She continued speaking, “Please! Don’t wound Him. He’s all I’ve got. Don’t wound the One I love!” I will never forget those words. I can remember the intensity of her breathing when she said them. Those moments are etched permanently into my memory. Then she pointed her finger down at me and said with such powerful clarity, “He’s more real than anything in the world!”
At that moment, I cried and said, “I’ve got to have this!” Then, within moments, the service was over. I was shaken to the core. God had used that service and His mighty evangelist to reveal His power that day. All the way back to Toronto, I kept thinking, “What did she mean? What was she saying when she talked about the Holy Spirit?” I was totally exhausted when I arrived home, but I could not sleep. As I lay on my bed, I felt as if someone were pulling me off the mattress and onto my knees. It was a strange sensation, but I didn’t resist. I had never spoken to the Holy Spirit before. I didn’t know He could be addressed that way. Finally, I prayed, “Holy Spirit, Kathryn Kuhlman says You are her Friend. I don’t think I know You. Before today, I thought I did. But after that meeting, I realize I really don’t. I don’t think I know You.” Then, like a child with my hands raised, I asked, “Can I meet You? Can I really meet You?” A few brief moments passed, then like a jolt of electricity my body began to vibrate all over again, exactly like at the church in Pittsburgh. I was afraid to open my eyes. I felt like a warm blanket of God’s power was wrapped all over me. That continued until I finally dropped off to sleep that night. Even then, I still didn’t realize all that had happened to me. The next morning, three days before Christmas, I awoke and the first words I spoke to my newfound Friend were, “Good morning, Holy Spirit!” At that instant, I knew He was there with me. As I opened my Bible, He was there sitting beside me. From that moment, everything about the Bible, my prayer life, my worship, and my relationship with God took on an entirely new dimension. For the next eight hours I had an incredible experience with the Holy Spirit that changed the course. Tears of wonderment and joy coursed down my cheeks. I had just turned twenty-one. Christmas was just around the corner. I had received the best present ever! Less than a year later, God would open the door for me to step behind a pulpit to preach for the first time, and in that moment He would simultaneously heal a lifelong stuttering problem and give birth to a ministry that would eventually reach around the globe. That’s why, forty years later, I commemorate all that God has done! As I boarded the charter bus for Pittsburgh back in December 1973, who could have fathomed all that would happen as a result of that momentous little trip to see Kathryn Kuhlman?