After the sudden death of their daughter last week, one Bethel Church family has taken the unusual step of enlisting others at the Redding megachurch to attempt to bring the child back to life.
Since Saturday, members of Bethel Church have been using prayer, music and singing in the effort.
Andrew and Kalley Heiligenthal's 2-year-old daughter, Olive Alayne, died early Saturday morning after she stopped breathing. One Instagram post about Olive had more than a quarter-million views within six hours Tuesday.
The family called 911 and medics attempted to revive the child at home and at a Redding hospital, where she was declared dead. From there, her body was taken to the Shasta County Coroner's Office.
On Saturday, the child's parents asked that "friends, family, and others from the church gather to pray for a miracle of resurrection (the basis for which is modeled by Jesus in the New Testament of the Bible)," Bethel Church leaders said in a statement Tuesday.
"Bethel Church believes in the stories of healing and physical resurrection found in the Bible (Matthew 10:8), and that the miracles they portray are possible today," the statement said.
Kalley Heiligenthal, a Bethel Music singer and songwriter, also posted her beliefs on a GoFundMe page set up for the family over the weekend. As of Tuesday evening, it had raised more than $36,000.
“We believe in a Jesus who died and conclusively defeated every grave, holding the keys to resurrection power. We need it for our little Olive Alayne, who stopped breathing yesterday and has been pronounced dead by doctors," Kalley Heiliegenthal wrote.
"We are asking for bold, unified prayers from the global church to stand with us in belief that He will raise this little girl back to life. Her time here is not done, and it is our time to believe boldly, and with confidence wield what King Jesus paid for. It’s time for her to come to life,” she wrote.
The family began its prayers shortly after their daughter died and took to Instagram to ask others around the world to pray for Olive Alayne. A hashtag, #wakeupolive, had garnered nearly 1,500 posts on Instagram.
Attempting to bring someone back to life is not widely accepted in the Christian faith, but may be more particular to Bethel Church, said Patrick Blewett, dean of A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary at Simpson University in Redding.
"This fits more into Bethel Church and into what they're teaching," Blewett said.
Blewett, who knows the Heiligenthal family, said it is more common to view death as the next step in life, he said, quoting from 2 Corinthians , which says "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."
The Bible associates miracles of resurrection in reference to Jesus, either through his own or in bringing others back to life, said Blewett, who added that he and others at Simpson pray for the family during its time of grief.
The public prayer gatherings for resurrection are also apparently not a common occurrence at the church, said Aaron Tesauro, a spokesman for the church.
“There are references to resurrection in the Bible, and we believe that with God, nothing is impossible, even things like resurrection. Although at Bethel, this is the first public gathering of prayer for resurrection that I have seen in the over 10 years I’ve attended the church,” Tesauro said.
Church officials said they are doing more for the family than praying for the child to come back to life.
"As a church family, our hearts are with the Heiligenthals, and we are both praying for Olive and walking with them through their deep grief and sorrow. Bethel leadership is committed to caring for and serving the Heiligenthal family during this difficult time," the statement says.