Pasadena Ministry Trip part 3: Return to Azusa

The continuing saga of my IHOPU ministry trip to Pasadena, April 10-20.

Tuesday was probably my favourite day of the entire trip. That was the day we went to Azusa, a town about 20 minutes east of Pasadena. It features lots of Buddhist temples, a small but fiery house of prayer, and the private Christian college I graduated from in 2010… Azusa Pacific University.

“God First Since 1899”

During my time at APU, I spent an hour or so almost every morning in the little campus prayer chapel, praying for revival at the school. I very quickly learned that just because it’s a Christian school doesn’t mean that every student is actually in love with Jesus and committed to walking in the Spirit. I loved so much of what I saw in the heart of APU’s leadership and student body, but I also saw plenty of confusion and darkness and brokenness. I ached for the Holy Spirit to set my campus on fire with fearless love for Jesus and pursuit of genuine holiness.

To give you more insight into the culture of the school I remember, APU students are passionate about authentic community and social justice issues, and they generally excel at listening to and respecting one another’s stories. Micah 6:8 (“To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”) is a life verse for many. The school also has a surprisingly large population of professing non-Christians on campus, as well as a fair number of students who profess to be both LGBT and Christian. (Follow the links for the APU student magazine articles on those situations.) I think of APU as a big, loud, passionate, apathetic, divided, united, servant-hearted, dysfunctional, striving, broken, beautiful, authentic community. (When I graduated, I wrote an open letter to APU that you should read.)

During my final semester, I wrote a song of prophetic intercession for APU. It was originally just a little verse and chorus I used to sing alone in my car, but I dreamed of one day coming back as a worship leader and singing it over the campus, and getting students to join in crying out for their own campus.

When I heard our team would be doing ministry in Azusa, I thoroughly freaked out. I saw the potential for that dream to become a reality, and there was nothing I wanted more than to pray over my school with my IHOPU family. As the trip drew closer and plans started to solidify, I was able to get permission from the alumni office to bring a small team to do some prayer and worship on campus. That in itself was a miracle, and I do not use the word lightly. APU is very careful about which outside ministries they allow on campus, but as an alumnus I was able to get approval without a problem.

Worshipping together at AZHOP

Worshipping together at AZHOP

That Tuesday, we spent the morning in the PIHOP prayer room, then travelled in the afternoon to the Azusa House of Prayer. We met the leadership, some of whom I remembered as classmates from years ago, and prayed together for our outreaches that day. One of the AZHOP staff encouraged us to ask God freely for what we wanted to see. Immediately, I knew in my heart that all I wanted to see was APU students encountering the overwhelming love of God. As I prayed that, the tears began to well up and spill out. It was as if every fiery, verbose prayer I had scribbled in my journal during those four years on campus coalesced into one burning desire: I want them to be undone by the love of God.

The 52 of us split up into four teams. One team went to APU, one went to evangelise at a nearby strip mall, one went to pray over several Buddhist temples, and one stayed at AZHOP to intercede for us. All of these teams came back with powerful testimonies about the power of God. The temple team went to four temples and a mosque and prayed at them all. They were able to get into places the AZHOP team had never been able to go, and they worshipped and declared Jesus’ authority in some of the darkest places in Azusa. They even laid hands on and prayed for at least one of the monks, who was very friendly and receptive.

Inside one of those temples, one of our worship leaders sang a spontaneous chorus which would become a theme for us the rest of the week.

All authority belongs to You, Jesus
You reign, You reign
You reign, You reign

Probably the first time worship to Jesus has ever arisen from this room.

Probably the first time worship to Jesus has ever arisen from this room.

At APU, my team and I went to check in at the alumni office, but when we arrived it was closed. Hoping they’d be back from lunch soon, we went to the prayer chapel to brief. I shared my heart for the school and the plan for the afternoon. Out of respect for what APU would welcome on their grounds, we chose not to actively seek out people to pray for in the same way we did at USC. Our goal was simply to bring the kingdom through worship and talk to as many students as God would bring to us.

When we went back to the alumni office, the receptionist had apparently not gotten the memo and didn’t know who we were. I started praying frantically in my heart, and when the director of the alumni office came to greet us, he immediately remembered my phone call and welcomed us warmly: “Please, PRAY. Would you like t-shirts?” So I got a free alumni t-shirt out of it! I wear it proudly as a memento of God’s favour in opening that door for us.

We went out to Cougar Walk, a central eating and study area outdoors on campus, and sat down with a guitar to sing worship over the campus. We kept steady worship going for over two hours, and during that time we also had the opportunity to talk with and pray with several students who came over to meet us. President John Wallace walked by, but he was with someone, or else I would have loved to go introduce myself and pray with him.

Worship on Cougar Walk

Worship on Cougar Walk

The most precious part of the time for me was having the opportunity to sing my song! Since I don’t play guitar, I had taught it to one of our worship leaders that morning, and with his help we released it as a prayer over the campus. We actually ended up singing it twice, because one of the girls with us who is involved with AZHOP asked to hear it again. They may end up using it as part of their intercession times for APU! Before I left, I gave my handwritten chord chart to a student I met who was a worship major and a friend of AZHOP. “Do something good with this,” I told him. And thus was the torch passed. APU will always be my school, but revival will have to start with the current students on campus.

I believe that the spiritual atmosphere over Azusa shifted that day. Our simple songs and words to God are more powerful than we imagine, and I believe we only saw the edges of the impact of our prayers.

Song for APU (Heaven Open Up)

We live under the banner of “God First”
Teach us to live that life
With Christ as our chief cornerstone
Let us learn to love Him first
No matter the cost

So we pray
Heaven open up on Your children in Azusa
Heaven open up on us
From Smith to Trinity and the Shire to U.P.
Heaven open up on us

Have Your resting place here

The original journal page on which the song was birthed, October 15, 2010.

The original journal page on which the song was birthed, October 15, 2010

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle Morrison
    May 02, 2015 @ 13:22:44

    This sounds like a totally awesome time. I’m glad you had the opportunity to do this.

    Reply

    • Caitlyn
      Jul 15, 2015 @ 23:22:22

      This is a very late response, haha, but thank you, Michelle! It was an honour, and this summer since I’ve been home I’ve been able to reconnect with the AZHOP team and pray with them on a regular basis!

      Reply

  2. Trackback: Pasadena Ministry Trip part 4: Hollywood Invasion | Fragrance Arise

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