Gospel singer and pastor Kimberly Burrell is confident that her good friend Whitney Houston is in heaven right now, celebrating with God.
- (Photo: REUTERS/Molly Riley)
The Love & Liberty Fellowship Church pastor spoke with CNN's Kyra Phillips on Tuesday, talking about Houston's faith, their friendship, and their last moments together.
"Whitney knew to go to God, Whitney knew how to pray and I'm very confident that in her worst of times, whatever they could have been, she knew how to go to God," Burrell revealed.
The two companions often prayed together in person and over the phone whenever Houston – who was known to have battled with cocaine, marijuana, and pills – needed help.
"Whenever she called I was there," the Gospel singer stated, even flying out to Germany during Houston's last European tour, "just to be there in prayer" for her. "When she knew that she needed help she didn't mind saying that."
"She knew God in the pardon of her sin and she was very aware of what He could do," the Texas native added. "That's why I'm very confident that whatever her last moments were, she knew that God could be there for her and I have the confidence in believing without having a need to sensationalize, knowing what I knew about Whitney, she knew God enough to call on Him."
"I have confidence that she's with Him today because that's my compassion and my passion with her and for her. No matter what the world is saying I, her friend, knew that she knew how to get in contact with God and I celebrate that fact today."
Burrell and Houston were supposed to attend Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy party together before the 48-year old singer was found dead in her bathtub on Feb. 11 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for reasons not yet known.
The last time Burrell heard Houston's voice was on Saturday when the megastar left a voicemail message, eagerly awaiting her good friend's arrival in California.
"She left a message at about 2 o'clock. She said 'Kimi, where are you? I need to see you. Call me back. And when I did try to call her back there was no more and it doesn't feel good. It will never feel good."
During the message, Burrell said she could hear Gospel music playing in the background and Houston sounded like her typical happy self.
"She was in great spirits, she was singing," the pastor noted. "I was on my way to see her and I ended up going to the hotel but I was a little too late."
When asked if it sounded like Houston needed to talk to her about something in particular, Burrell believed that her comment was not necessarily saying anything, but that she just wanted to hug and see her friend.
"She loved me dearly and I loved her and we just wanted to see each other and hug each other and love each other."
The two friends performed a duet together last year at BET's Celebration of Gospel, singing Houston's hit song "I Look to You."
After the performance, Houston called Burrell that night and said, "Kim, I needed to do that. It felt good. And I thank God that we had an opportunity to do it together."
The Grammy-award singer then flew to Burrell's home in Houston where they watched the performance over and over again as if they had never seen it before.
As they continued to replay the song, Houston said, "Look at God. Listen to God. Look at God on us."
"We shared that moment in my living room," Burrell recalled.
Phillips asked Burrell why it was so difficult for people like Houston who struggled with addiction to hold on to a spiritual power and beat their demons.
"You know demonic forces are strong and they are persistent and consistent and every day the word of the Lord declares that we have a struggle with our flesh and our spirit," The Love Album singer responded.
"It's a constant battle but today the Lord woke me up in Psalm 46 and said 'God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble' and I saw God be that for [Houston] ... very present in the time of trouble for her."
"Whitney was an amazing person and she had such a heart for music and the world," Burrell concluded. "She was the absolute best and I will love her forever."
Watch the performance of Houston and Burrell at BET's Celebration of Gospel.