On a Wing and a Prayer

Minister to despots across the globe, evangelist K.A. Paul just needs a few tons of jet fuel--and a safer plane--to keep up Godís work

"Taylor did not cause any problem in the last years I've known him," Kilari says. "Look at him--he's in Sierra Leone for 10 days now. Not a single soul died, because he promised me he will not cause any problem. I said, 'The day you cause a problem through your 40,000 troops, I'm out. If you are a changed man, show me your fruit.'"

So how does one become Minister to the Dictators, anyway?

Well, Kilari's route began when he was born into a low caste in Andhra Pradesh, southern India. He spent his first 19 years trying to rub two dimes together, not knowing anything about Jesus until he woke up one morning with a vision of souls burning in hell.

Kilari's ministry, which has boasted supporters such as Dallas millionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt, has its headquarters in Houston.
Kilari's ministry, which has boasted supporters such as Dallas millionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt, has its headquarters in Houston.
Kilari--far right--says his plane is like a private Air Force One.
Kilari--far right--says his plane is like a private Air Force One.

He decided to dedicate his life to saving the millions of souls in the Third World who never knew Jesus. He set about to be the Billy Graham of India. He never trained at a seminary, but he claims to have an honorary doctorate from a Bible college in Swan River, Manitoba. The director of the school, however, said he could not find any records verifying that claim.

Nevertheless, by the late '90s, Kilari would establish Paul's Charity City in Hyderabad, India, a first-class orphanage that cares for 1,000 children. Near Charity City was a facility for widows, whom Kilari calls Little Teresas. The widows help care for the orphans, giving them a purpose in their lives, without which, Kilari says, the widows would be either suicides or prostitutes.

The 15 or so years between Kilari's spiritual vision and the creation of the orphanage, however, are a bit vague, something no one in the ministry likes to talk about.

But a Colorado Springs businessman named Ted Beckett doesn't mind talking. In fact, he and his wife, Audrey, investigated Kilari after they joined him on a disastrous trip to India. They subsequently wrote a nine-page account of their findings, which they shared with a few other missionaries, including some in Dallas. Several of these missionaries, who asked not to be identified, appended the Becketts' account with corroborating letters, news reports and personal testimony. The resulting data tells a much different story from the one Kilari tells.

When the Becketts met Kilari in 1995, they were instantly intrigued by his stories of bringing Jesus to the forgotten corners of the world. They were especially interested in a leper colony Kilari claimed to operate in India.

But shortly after they traveled with Kilari to India, the Becketts learned that the leper colony was actually run by a different ministry. Yet that didn't keep Kilari from sending camera crews to film the lepers for his own promotional material.

Even more unsettling to the Becketts was the indication that when Kilari was 19, he was not seeing demons but was hijacking the ministry of noted Indian minister P.J. Titus.

Kilari has always denied working for Titus, but Titus' autobiography includes a photo of Kilari at Titus' desk, assisting him "in the business side of ministry," circa 1983.

According to the Becketts' data, Kilari had access to Titus' mailing list, so he wrote letters to Titus' flock, discrediting Titus and encouraging them to donate to Anand Kilari, a true Christian.

"The second thing he did," according to information compiled by the Becketts, "was to arrange a Gospel Crusade Meeting and hire some fellows to come and beat him up. Before this happened, they called CNN and tipped them that there would be a newsworthy event at this meeting. At a signal, when the cameras were in place, the fellows broke up the meeting and beat K.A. Paul. This news report came over the international wire service, and it was aired here in the States. As a result, K.A. Paul was able to wriggle his way into the hearts of the unsuspecting here. He was a guest on TBN [a far-reaching evangelical TV network], which gave him credibility, and then as a result he was received by many unsuspecting ministries as their guest."

Kilari eventually won over Bill McCartney, one of the most important evangelicals of the mid-'90s. A former football coach at the University of Colorado, McCartney founded Promise Keepers, which packed stadiums with thousands of men who vowed to follow Jesus by becoming proper heads of household. McCartney joined Kilari's board of directors and wrote the foreword to Kilari's autobiography, Left for Dead.

"I am so drawn to the fire of God I see in this man," McCartney wrote. "I don't know of anyone in the world who is more used by God today than Dr. K.A. Paul."

McCartney's endorsement, along with others, made it easy for Kilari to bring evangelical groups to India to witness his rallies, which is how nine American missionaries--including a few from Houston--wound up in an Indian jail in 1995.

While the Becketts were with Kilari in India, Kilari hastily organized a rally without the proper permits. As was standard operating procedure with Kilari rallies of the time, his supporters erected 20-foot wooden statues of Kilari and plastered trees with posters showing his smiling visage. The posters promised healing and salvation. According to Beckett, and to news reports at the time, local authorities denied an open-air rally, instead directing the American missionaries to a tiny village church to conduct their healing.

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