On a Sunday afternoon not long ago, hundreds convened in Pan Pacific Park to see a woman named Kathryn Krick who, according to the promo materials, would demonstrate God’s power to perform miracles. At the appointed hour, Krick glided forward in a white paintsuit, brown hair falling past her shoulders, and stood at the center of a small amphitheater. “Today,” she began, “you’re going to get to see demons obey.”
Krick went on: “This is a place for all demons to be cast out and for people to be healed.”
The assembly had come, curious, ill, and anxious, looking for supernatural succor. If attendants stuck around, the 31-year-old pastor promised, she would banish the terrible spirits plaguing body and soul.
At her beckoning, the group came forward and spoke into the microphone, relaying their woes: withered limbs, empty bank accounts, ancient curses. Krick listened and then prayed, an arm lifted towards the sky. One woman took an unsteady step out of a wheelchair and limped forward, tears in her eyes. “Hallelujah,” Krick said. “God is freeing you, hon.”
These weekly ceremonies appeared to meet a need: Covid-19 case numbers in Los Angeles were queasily rising and falling and rising again as new variants emerged; many churches had closed, leaving masses of the faithful without a solid spiritual home. Into this breach she stepped. Krick is among the more peculiar breeds of so-called coronapreneur: the enterprising faith healer. She wasn’t always in this role. Krick came here several years ago from upstate New York with showbiz dreams but after efforts as an actress and singer fizzled, she segued into the work of the Holy Spirit.
The scenes over which she presides have a particular resonance in this city. Pentecostalism, a homegrown form of Christianity known for practices such as speaking in tongues and belief in modern-day prophecy and healing, was born here more than a century ago. In 1906, the Los Angeles Times marveled at the site of a novel creed bubbling out of a ministry on Azusa Street. “The newest religious sect,” the paper wrote, “has started in Los Angeles.” Pentecostal healers found success in the following years. In the 1920s, the Echo Park evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson captivated audiences with innovative stagecraft and claims of supernatural power; the preacher-and-healer Kathryn Kuhlman’s services packed auditoriums in the ’70s. “Wonder-workers of many kinds — faith healers, exorcists, seers — have always been central figures in Pentecostalism,” says Leah Payne, a professor of religion at Portland Seminary. “For the faithful, they provide public demonstrations of the Holy Spirit’s capacity to work in the life of any practitioner.”
Yet Krick’s ministry isn’t some nostalgia act. This is a 21st century affair — her success is partially owed to a mastery of digital networks. In the park, a volunteer media team of four trails her with cameras, mics, and tripods. The entire service is streamed online; the juiciest segments are later cropped and uploaded to TikTok, where she has amassed more than a million fans with titles like “Little Boy Couldn’t Speak, God Delivered Him & He Spoke” and “Demons Cast Out Of Mom, Then Dad, Then Son!” Her branded hoodies and shirts with the catchphrase, “Revival is Now,” are stacked next to a cash box. Some weekdays, Krick holds livestreams from her apartment, where healings are performed through the computer screen.
Krick’s emergence as a bonafide, if niche, celebrity gives a window into a freewheeling and entrepreneurial corner of Californian religion. This region has never lacked for freelance gurus or culty start-ups, offering sundry deliverances and therapies — from aura diviners to chic surfer churches. But in 2022, this faith healer has found her own lane. Over a series of interviews, Krick reflected on her shift in fortunes. She spoke carefully, in conversations from her home and at a cafe in Fairfax, where she ordered a pumpkin spice latte as her driver sat nearby. “I was never ever expecting this,” she said. “But that’s God’s timing, you know?”
Before her miracle-working career, Krick was raised in Andes, a sleepy town on the edge of New York’s Catskills Mountains. Both of her parents worked as educators and the family attended a Presbyterian church. She went to college in Ithaca, studied communications, and considered becoming a wedding planner.
In 2013, Krick leased a car and moved to Los Angeles to be an actress instead. She landed bit parts, including one in a short-lived reality TV show titled Love at First Kiss from the producer of The Bachelor — the conceit of which was two strangers were matched for a dramatic smooch before going on to other dates (Krick didn’t make it past the first round). She recalls these days with reluctance. “I had one foot in the world,” she says.
At the same time, she was finding her religious bearings. She began attending Mosaic, a multi-site evangelical church with Southern Baptist roots, headquartered in Hollywood. Here, Sunday mornings bring slender and fit industry types wearing knit beanies and designer sweats; services consist of a few soaring songs followed by an inspirational sermon. “We are all strivers here,” a worship leader told me recently. At the time, Krick was pursuing music, and in 2015, she released a throbbing dance single of her own, with a video produced with friends from the church. “I felt God leading me to become a Christian EDM singer-songwriter,” she explains.
Around this time, Krick visited an upstart ministry in the Valley held in the living room of a Kenyan pop singer-turned-pastor named Lovy Longomba Elias. In contrast to Mosaic, this gathering was a florid Pentecostal tableau: worshippers might murmur in tongues and Elias, who now called himself a prophet, performed rituals meant to ward off devilish spirits. “For the first time, I saw demons being cast out,” Krick says. “I was set on fire.”
Some months later, Krick found herself at a conference headlined by another pastor named Kasambale Moses Geordavie. He had flown in from Tanzania for the event, which included feats of healing. Their meeting would prove pivotal.
A balding man with a thin mustache, Geordavie cut an enchanting figure as he addressed the room. He traveled in a limousine, wore beautifully ornate suits and came bearing a majestic tale: Geordavie’s website boasted that since the age of 5 he had been blessed with miraculous skills, which now included prophesying and curing the sick. He started a church in his home country and presided over a ministry-and-media empire, including an FM radio station, regular TV programs, and music festivals. Geordavie had been looking to bring his works to America. He was returning to Tanzania soon, but needed someone to run things in Los Angeles.
Upon meeting Krick, he revealed that he had been led by the Holy Spirit to offer her a leadership position in the California branch. She accepted. “He said I was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ,” Krick says, “and to reach the nations and that many miracles would happen through me.”
Geordavie provided Krick with a credential — she used the title of apostle soon after this — and mentorship in the practice of faith healing. The Los Angeles branch (called Geordavie Ministries International, then Advanced Anointing Church) would meet at a Mulholland Drive park overlooking the city and in a series of rental spots, like the basement of a Legion Hall and a senior activity center. Krick took to her new role with gusto, but the church drew paltry crowds of no more than 15. She worked part time as a nanny; her parents sent money to keep things afloat. “I had no clue what I was doing,” she says. “That was a really uncomfortable season for me.”
In 2020, Covid-19 hit Los Angeles. Following health orders, Krick’s church shuttered and went outdoors, to nearby Pan Pacific Park.
She officially changed the name of the church — now calling it Five-Fold Church — and ramped up online outreach, something she had been dabbling with for a couple of years. Sitting at her computer, working late into the night, Krick compiled short, bite-sized clips of herself ministering at her small park services, highlighting things like people speaking in tongues or shaking during prayer.
The materials showing demon-manifesting (faces contorting, voices deepening) would prove to be a hit. Krick tailored the videos to pack a punch. “I wanted people to see the amazing power of God — like, ‘Woah, that’s supernatural!’” she says. “But I don’t want it to be too creepy. Because demons can look kind of creepy. No, there has to also be the moment of freedom, you know, to see the victory over the demons, to see the look on the person’s face when they’re free.”
These posts — hashtagged #deliverance #anointing #miracles #healing — lifted Krick into a small network of other faith healers with hundreds of thousands of followers plying their trade on YouTube and TikTok, like one exorcist-livestreamer named Isaiah Saldivar, from San Joaquin County, who befriended and promoted Krick. There are any number of crafts for which one may acquire coveted online clout, yet there is recognizable alchemy to the influencer template, whatever the goods on offer: a warm persona; cross promotions and collabs; patrons and donations; tasteful lighting; a consistent color scheme; solid merchandise. Krick carefully assembled her ingredients. “God told me to make the videos one-minute long,” she says. “They started going crazy viral.”
On camera and stage, Krick has echoes of a young Julia Roberts, with other bits Judy Garland and Gemstone. Gestures are grand: head cocked forward, when listening sympathetically; stern scowl, when banishing devils; a blissful smile when praising God’s might. In time, her social channels caught the interest of Pentecostal media-makers of an older generation, like the veteran televangelist Sid Roth, who featured Krick on his TV show, and the California pastor Shawn Bolz, who praised her on his podcast. “If you want to get deliverance,” Bolz gushed, “you might as well get one of the Disney princesses to do it.” Krick’s following swelled past a million and, by the summer of 2021, weekend services were packed.
At Pan Pacific Park, the afternoon shadows wore on.
Krick motioned for the attention of the audience and said, “Stand to your feet now. It’s time for every demon to obey.”
The media crew focused their cameras. One by one, the testimonies sputtered forth: a man attacked by incubus and succubus demons in his dreams; a women haunted by witchcraft-induced sleep paralysis; another cheated out of money by a fortune teller; a woman who incurred a deadly curse after killing a black snake; a woman who believed her jealous neighbor had cast a horrific spell on her through an aerosol spray bottle.
A middle-aged woman galloped forward, howling in agony.
Krick stretched out a hand and addressed the demon inside: “You cannot stay in this woman any more. You can no longer torment her mind. You can no longer keep her up at night with anxiety. You can no longer send her nightmares. Look at me now. I break every curse off of this woman now. And I command, on three, every one of you must leave her, in Jesus name. One, two, three! Out of her now.”
The woman crumpled to the ground, limbs like jelly. The crowd let out a chorus of hallelujahs and amens.
“Jesus is freeing you,” Krick said. More hosannahs.
A ministry helper stepped forward with a trash pail. The woman spit and dry-heaved, as if vomiting out the evil. “You cannot fall for the demon’s lies,” Krick said encouragingly. Glory, glory.
On the sidelines, a gray-haired social worker named Jerry Davis appraised the exorcisms like bouts in a boxing ring.
“That one came right out. Uh-huh.”
“Oof. Look at that one go.
“That one doesn’t want to come out, huh?”
A passerby, balancing a leashed pomeranian and an iPhone, stopped to gawk. “Oh my gosh,” she said into her cell. “You’ve just got to come here next week.”
At the close of services, Krick has perfected techniques to exit smoothly. A trio of helpers surrounds her as the event closes, acting as buffers. Another volunteer waits street side in an idling SUV so the apostle may slip off unbothered. In the front seat of her getaway ride, Krick texted the team and explained to me, “I used to be able to sit up here in the car as they cleaned, but then the crowd started to see me.” Krick nodded, and her driver pulled into traffic.
The religious limelight, like any limelight, will take its toll. As Krick’s star has risen, the criticisms have flowed forward. One wing of opponents take issue with the simple fact that she is a woman doing pastoral work. A radio host named Chris Rosebrough has launched detailed theological broadsides against Krick based, in part, on this conviction.
For others, it is the claims of physical healings that demand a closer look. One of Krick’s early and widely-advertised claims is that her prayers healed a group of Tanzanian orphans of HIV. But the picture is muddled. Reached by phone, Faraja Maliaki Rayani, the director of the orphanage, says that Krick had visited his facility three times and supported them with donations. Rayani explains that during one visit, in 2019, Krick prayed over 30 children who had earlier been diagnosed with HIV. “9 of the kids, after her long prayer, we took them to blood tests several times,” he texts. “They don’t have HIV anymore. We thought it was a healing miracle.”
Krick’s social media is filled with such testimonies of the efficacy of her works. Yet there are those who see no change at all and even Rayani says he was puzzled as to why the 21 remaining kids still had HIV. When asked about this, Krick offers an explanation: “Things are more deep and complex in the spiritual realm than we realize.” She speculates the sick children might be living under a curse, and recommended they renew their faith.
She then adds, “So, to have faith is the big key for many to receive healing.”
Krick’s teacher Geordavie is eager to take credit for his mentee’s successes. “Kathryn did not have prior experience, she needed someone to guide her,” Geordavie’s private secretary, Lisa Kessy, tells me. “That is why she is where she is now.” But Krick’s achievements appear to have more to do with her own knack for new media, and marshaling of it during the pandemic. On her church’s website, she doesn’t trumpet any association with Geordavie by name, nor does she mention him in most interviews. Still, it’s these ties that have elicited the most colorful and nasty attacks, sometimes from rival pastors. These center on the accusation that Geordavie is not what he appears — “an African warlock,” one commenter dubbed him — and since Krick is in cahoots with him she is a sham, or dabbling in dark magic. One park volunteer, Rohan Misra, eventually cut ties with Krick over these concerns.
Krick will describe detractors as carrying out a Satanic agenda (“the devil doesn’t want this work to happen”) or prejudiced (“this is ethnocentrism,” she wrote in response to criticisms of Geordavie). In more private moments, Krick will also say her naysayers are just envious. “This is pure jealousy, number one,” she says over the phone. “My platform has grown at a speed that many people have not seen. I’m new on the block.”
Since the summer, Krick has taken her ministry on the road, accepting invitations to heal at churches in new states (Tennessee, Oregon, Nebraska, Texas), seemingly each week. In February, she flew to the United Arab Emirates to hold a ticketed event. In March, the Netherlands. She shared dreams of scaling further: “In five years? Stadiums, stadiums, massive deliverance.”
The weekly outdoor services remain the heart of the enterprise, for now, and bring the occasional reminder of the local competition. At Pan Pacific Park, the amphitheater is rented out by the hour and the following group, for much of the summer, led New Age sound baths with various instruments and a light show. (Their offerings: “Live Mantra, Breathwork, Visuals, Starseed Musicians, Energy Healing.”)
As Krick finished, the two groups eyed one another.
“They puked on the stage, again,” complained a man carrying singing bowls.
One of Krick’s helpers said, “Way more people come out for us.”
It seemed, for a moment, there might even be a confrontation. Yet things flowed along. Krick was whisked away and her crew cleaned. A huge gong was arranged on a fur mat and, in preparation, a woman waved a blazing clump of sage to clear the air.
Most of the faith healer’s crowd prepared to leave, but some lingered to see what would come next.