André Kole: Cru’s Creative Pioneer for the Gospel

André Kole and Arizona State University

André Kole has gone home to Jesus — well done good and faithful servant! Robert J. Gurtler (a.k.a. André Kole) passed away in his sleep on October 17th, 2022. He had been battling Alzheimer’s and just turned 86.

My life intersected with André Kole’s a few times. He graduated more than a decade ahead of me from Arizona State University (ASU). We still talked about him among the students involved with Campus Crusade for Christ there. I remember a story that Bob made fire appear from his hands for a speech assignment. The professor flunked him.

One year, we put up the poster (seen in this blog post) all over campus, advertising André’s show. Then, as a student, and later, as a Cru missionary, too, I had opportunities to invite others to see André’s illusions. A gifted illusionist, he was always professional and winsome in his stage presence.

André Kole: Cru’s Creative Pioneer for the Gospel

When I heard of his recent passing, I knew I needed to share this news on the God Fully Known blog. André was one of Cru’s pioneers in presenting the Gospel creatively.

At age seven, someone showed the young Bob Gurtler a coin trick, sparking his interest in magic. He formed The Gurtler Magic Company at age fourteen. “At age 25, André was challenged to investigate the miracles of Christ from the point of view of an illusionist. This led to his conversion.”

In 1962, Cru staff director for ASU, Elmer Lappen, encouraged Bob to demonstrate his magic act, a presentation of the Four Spiritual Laws After his performance at Cru’s headquarters in California, most of the missionary staff present didn’t think his idea would work. Yet, Dr. Bill Bright was always open to ways to present the Gospel. For decades, André remained grateful that Bill invited André to join staff and took a chance on supporting his ministry. (Watch André recount this time in his life: Almost Unanimous Rejection: André Kole.)

For over fifty years, Andre toured in all 50 states and [in] more than 80 countries as a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, International. He presented a full evening of magic and illusion, André Kole’s World of Illusion.’ He then” gave audiences the opportunity (if they wished) to witness his unique presentation of why he believed Jesus Christ was exactly who He claimed to be. André shared the Gospel with an estimated 10 million people in live performances. Approximately a million indicated decisions to follow Christ.”

Not only did he reach 10 million people, but he shared his faith with many in his profession. He was world-renowned as a performer and also as one of the foremost creators of magical effects. David Copperfield, Siegfried & Roy, Doug Henning, as well as countless other magicians throughout the world, used his effects.

André spent at least forty years investigating fake healings (and more) all over the world. Producers are creating a full-length documentary, and a limited docu-series, with André as the central character. They focus on his investigation and debunking of supernatural phenomena and paranormal activity.

How Has André Kole Touched Your Life?

André used his creativity and his skills to bring the truth of the Gospel to millions.

These messages from André may be relevant to you and your needs today:

How has André Kole touched your life?

Does reading about André encourage you to pursue your creative idea for the Gospel?

Have you persevered when others did not see your vision? Or when your life was threatened?

We may never have to die for the one who died for us, but the question is, are we willing to live for Jesus Christ and His Gospel today.” – André Kole (1936-2022)

More Videos of André Kole

(All the videos are courtesy of Cru’s Legacy ministry.)

Jesus was the Messiah, not a Magician:

Investigating supernatural and paranormal activity:

Cru staff will love André’s story about his early years in trusting God for financial ministry partners:


  • Most of the details of André’s life and ministry are from The Legacy videos and André Kole’s obituary (I quoted re-worded some of the obituary).
  • Please see Rod Robison’s eulogy from André’s memorial service in the comments section of this post.
  • The photo of the poster is courtesy of Cru Archives.
  • Campus Crusade for Christ began in 1951. The United States-based ministries shortened our name to Cru in 2011. I use both of the names.

2 thoughts on “André Kole: Cru’s Creative Pioneer for the Gospel

  1. Hi Sue. I enjoyed your article. I thought you might like to read my comments I made when I officiated Andre’s memorial service.

    Andre Kole Memorial Service
    Comments from Rod Robison

    Thank you all for being here this afternoon to honor a great man. Everyone of us in this room has sweet memories of Andre flooding into our hearts right about now. They vary greatly in details and circumstances, but they all have one thing in common – we are all richer in spirit having known him.
    The first time I saw Andre’s show I was in high school. It was a Youth for Christ event held at Haven’s Auditorium in Kokomo, Indiana. That was over 50 years ago but I still remember that iconic hip white suit jacket. Its collar had the wing-span of a large bird of prey. But his attire was the epitome of cool for its time. That evening I would never have imagined that years later that cool guy doing even cooler stuff on stage would become a good friend.
    As an adult, I read his books and was especially enamored by his recounting of how he became a Christian. As a young skeptic he investigated the miracles of Jesus, determined to prove that if this Jesus of Nazareth was merely a talented hoaxer, he would unmask him. Yet, it was his exhaustive investigation of Jesus through the point of view of a skeptic and magician that led Andre to discover and affirm the truth of his crucifixion, death, and bodily resurrection. An astounding historical truth so profound that Andre – the skeptical magician – later stated, “In making this investigation I…discovered that Jesus Christ had to be Who He claimed to be – the Son of God and the Savior of the world.”
    For years after becoming a Christian, Andre investigated claims of the paranormal and exposed many unscrupulous tricksters who used their skills to defraud the public. For over 40 years he issued a challenge to anyone claiming to possess paranormal powers. If any one of them could demonstrate their alleged powers under scientific test conditions he would hand them a personal check for $25,000. Several tried, but all were exposed. And Andre kept his $25,000. He even demonstrated publicly the sleight of hand trickery employed by so-called psychic surgeons who defrauded thousands of desperate people out of millions of dollars.
    Several years ago, as a budding magician, I was star-struck when I found myself sitting behind him and Kathy at a magic show in Tucson. I wanted badly to tap him on the shoulder and introduce myself, but was too terrified to interrupt this legend. I didn’t know at the time what a humble man he was. And he certainly did not consider himself a legend. But a year or so later I finally got to meet him at the home of my friends Tom and Kim Worcester and learned how approachable he was.
    A few years later I hatched up the idea of doing a benefit show in Phoenix for House of James Orphanage in Ukraine with magician Adrian Van Vactor and me performing with – and I knew it might be a longshot – Andre Kole as the headliner. After texting Andre I got an unexpectedly quick reply that he would be happy to meet with me to talk it over. I was nervous to say the least.
    A few days later, Andre, Kathy and I had lunch. I took a deep breath and began pitching the idea to Andre, hoping…praying…he would accept when he interrupted me before I even finished my pitch and said, “I’ll do it.” And he even invited his son Tim to join the line-up. It was one his last public performances. And orphans a half a world away benefited.
    When he and I traveled to Oregon for the wedding of our mutual friend, magician Scott Wolf and his wife Charity, I had the rare opportunity to spend time with an intellectual and creative genius. Someone who had invented some of the most widely performed illusions in the history of magic. Harry Blackstone Jr., David Copperfield, Siegfried and Roy, Doug Henning, and countless other magical luminaries performed his illusions. But that’s not what he talked about. Instead, our conversation centered on his many years sharing Christ around the world with millions of people. Because that was his preeminent passion. Magic was his medium.
    In 2016, as he and I were talking about him doing the foreword to a book I co-wrote with two other illusionists, Andre told me that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And, although that wretched disease finally took his life, in the ensuing years he and I still had a couple of lunches together and some good conversations. But each time I could see the disease’s progression, slowly erasing memories and his genius. But he was still passionate about sharing his Jesus with others.
    Andre may have exited the stage of our lives, but he is home, likely hearing “thank you” from the many thousands he led to Christ. And definitely hearing, “Well done good and faithful servant” from the Christ he served.


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