College Station Ministry Trip!

It’s three weeks after the trip, and I’m finally finding the time to blog about all that happened.

As I wrote last month, our IHOPU spring ministry trip to Houston became our IHOPU spring ministry trip to College Station, and although the planning was crazy, once we got there I wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was finally clear that God really had led us to partner with the College Station House of Prayer (CSHOP). We were there April 16-24.

The phrase He gave us for the week was “hope and healing,” and we certainly saw it happen! Our team was given a strong prophetic anointing and we regularly ministered to each other and to the people we met with the tender, fiery touch of the Spirit. His thoughts for us are more than the sand (Psalm 139:17-18) and this week He gave us a peek into His heart. Hearts were encouraged and restored, and at the end of the week CSHOP said they felt thoroughly blessed and refreshed (not common for a trip of this size!) and we were the best trip they had ever hosted.

I’m honestly so proud of my team. They served and loved so well this week. Here are a few highlights:

  • We spent the first night in Dallas with The Prayer Room DFW. I was sick that night and skipped ministry time to take a nap, but I loved getting to see them and see them welcome my team so warmly!
  • Sunday night we met CSHOP and helped lead their evening service. My co-leader Jesse and I both got to bring a word of encouragement. So many people told us that night touched them deeply – one girl even said she had heard the voice of God for the FIRST time!
  • We led prayer meetings with worship on the Texas A&M campus and at CSHOP (including a 12-hour prayer “burn” on campus!), evangelised with healing and prophecy on campus, and led a lot of prophetic ministry. We saw multiple healings and salvations on campus, and many people touched by the love of the Father!
  • Wednesday evening we split up and went to different small church groups. I took a small team to a college small group and where we led with a message, prayer, and ministry. We felt led to pray over the two guys that were there, that God would raise up strong men of faith for our generation!
  • That same night, one of our other teams prophesied over church members till pastmidnight, then went to Whataburger and prophesied over people in the restaurant! People were so hungry for a touch from God, and He delivered.
  • On Saturday night we hosted an event on campus called Ignite with worship, prayer, ministry, and powerful evangelistic preaching!

Even in the challenges of leadership and sickness (losing my voice while leading a worship-focused trip was frustrating), I was so touched by the love and support of my teammates. My co-leaders were phenomenal and a joy to serve with. It was an honour to be part of this trip, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

My team!

My team!

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Road trip!

Preaching at College Station House of Prayer on an IHOPU ministry trip

Preaching at Encounter God service at CSHOP.

Our team leading worship at CSHOP

Our team leading worship at CSHOP.

Monday night worship in the campus chapel.

Monday night worship in the campus chapel.

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Evangelising on campus. (This is Taylor. She grew up in church but doesn’t know Jesus. Please pray for her.)

Prophesying in Whataburger!

Prophesying in Whataburger!

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Encouraging the AMP core team at their small group.

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Scavenger hunt on campus.

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Team hangout at CSHOP director Cynthia’s house!

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Our team sharing our testimonies with the entire congregation and webstream at IHOPKC. Click the picture to watch the archive of the service!

College Station Ministry Trip Update

“College Station? Weren’t you going to Houston?”

Well, yes, Houston was the original plan two months ago. However, so many changes have occurred in the planning process that it’s almost an entirely different trip.

When I came on leadership for the trip, a certain church in Houston was planning on hosting us. Unfortunately, the pastor is fighting cancer, and he and his wife were no longer able to work with us. We spent nearly two months getting in contact with other churches and houses of prayer in the city with whom we have relationship and who would ordinarily be thrilled to host us. However, one location after another wasn’t able to host due to various extenuating circumstances.

As things have now (finally!) landed, we’re taking our ministry trip to College Station, Texas! We’ve sent ministry trips to there in the past to work with College Station House of Prayer (CSHOP), and the staff there is wonderful. Most of their ministry is centred around Texas A&M University, and they host 8am prayer meetings every weekday on campus.

CSHOP

Our vision for the trip is still centred around “hope and healing” for the local body of Christ, with a special emphasis on youth groups. We’re planning to visit and minister at several small churches in College Station, as well as an urban youth ministry called Save Our Streets. We’ll also spend lots of time connecting with CSHOP and their prayer room, as well as their prayer and outreach activities on the A&M campus.

The number of roadblocks we’ve encountered in this process is unprecedented for this type of trip. We’re all convinced that God is planning something BIG for this week of ministry.

The trip is April 16-24 — only two weeks away! We’ve been frantically trying to land the logistics and budget the past few weeks, but I think I can say now that everything is falling into place. I am so excited for the opportunity to go serve what God is doing in College Station!

Final Semester of IHOPU Begins

After four years in Kansas City, I’m finally in the home stretch of my journey here. I will be graduating in May from the House of Prayer Leadership program within the Forereunner School of Ministry at IHOPU. I’ve had so many incredible opportunities and experiences here, and I’m so looking forward to finishing strong and making the most of these last few months!

My classes this semester are (first quarter) Apologetics, Desert Spirituality, and (second quarter) Kingdom of God, Communication and Contextualization. While these classes could be taught in a very academic, intellectual way, all of my teachers have been very clear that they intend to teach in a very practical and experiential way. This isn’t about learning all the theories, though that can be helpful; this is about encountering God, being transformed, and then being used by God to transform the world around us. I’ll also be on a student worship team twice a week in our little student prayer room, and I’ll be in a small group as well.

I’ve also moved into a new house with one of my best friends, Abigail, plus an IHOPU freshman girl and another girl who is part of the IHOPKC community. The four of us love our cozy home! The family who owns this house is out of town for six months, so we all get to rent it in their absence.

The most exciting thing I’m doing this semester is co-leading a ministry trip to Houston, Texas! I will be helping lead a team of potentially 70 students to Houston to partner with local churches and houses of prayer to serve them and do outreach with them, and at the end of our ministry week we’ll put on a Onething Regional conference with speakers and worship leaders from IHOPKC. (This will be similar to what I did last year with an IHOPU team in Pasadena.)

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First ministry trip leadership meeting. (Photo: Dave Sliker)

I’m very excited for this trip. This will be the largest leadership role I’ve ever undertaken, so I guarantee I’ll feel overwhelmed at times, but I’ll have a rock-solid team and have the chance to grow in leadership and servanthood as we join God in making Houston look a little bit more like heaven.

The word I feel God giving me for this final semester is “SEEK.” I’ve been really impacted by Lauren Daigle’s song “First,” (lyric video below) which repeats the theme “I want to seek You first…” as Jesus exhorts in Matthew 6:33. I want to spend this time seeking God with all that I am without any distractions.

To that end, I will not be returning to the job I’ve had in Kansas City for the past two years. Rather, I feel God leading me to give myself fully to prayer, training, and ministry during these precious last few months in Kansas City. I do have several people partnering with me financially on a monthly basis, and I’m asking God to raise up a few more! (Hint: There is a Partner with Me tab up above if you want to hear more about how to do that…)

Even as I’m already seeing endings approaching and starting to make plans for after graduation… it’s not over yet! This semester has the potential to be the most epic season yet, and I am so excited for the ride.

Pasadena Ministry Trip part 7: Onething Regional

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

The climax of our trip was putting on a Onething regional conference with PIHOP. What is a Onething regional conference? It’s basically a mini version of the big year-end conference that IHOPKC puts on in Kansas City every year. The purpose of these conferences is to call this generation to passionate love for Jesus. This year, some 300 IHOPU students, joined by key speakers and worship leaders from IHOPKC, headed out in teams to seven cities across the country to partner with local ministries to put on seven simultaneous regional conferences.

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Laura Hackett Park leading us in worship.

Dave Sliker leading a ministry time.

Dave Sliker leading a ministry time – yes, that’s Lou Engle standing front and centre of the crowd, on the floor in the corner of the stage.

The conference was held Friday and Saturday, April 17-18. As students, we were assigned to various service teams to help run the event. I served several shifts as an usher as well as a shift on a prophecy team. I loved ushering. To me, ushering is being the “doorkeeper in the house of my God” that Psalm 84:10 speaks of. I get to help keep the room organised and free of distractions so that guests can encounter God–and I also get to be roaming prayer support! Often while I’m ushering, God will put a specific person on my heart, and I will stare at the back of their head and pray that God would do the work in their heart that needs to be done. Sometimes as I’m praying I’ll watch teens go from squirrely to locked in to weeping under the touch of God.

While serving on a prophecy team, I prophesied over a few dozen people who came in turn to sit on chairs in front of me and my two teammates. We would greet them, explain that we prophesy in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 14:3 “edification and exhortation and comfort,” then spend a few moments in prayer asking God what He would have to say. When we’re ready, we speak into a recording device if the person has one, sharing the words or pictures or verses that God has given us to encourage them. It’s intense and scary the first few times, but the fact is that God loves to speak to and encourage His bride. He knows each of us so individually, and He loves to blow our minds with specific words made just for us. We all had many accurate and encouraging words that God used to build up the people in front of us. Some I saw again months later, and they told me they still had my voice on their phones and those words were still a source of encouragement!

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Serving on a prophecy team- yes, my “listening to God” face looks super intense!

Our speakers included Cheryl Allen, the director of PIHOP, and Dave Sliker, one of the senior leaders at IHOPKC and one of my favourite IHOPU teachers. They both spoke about God’s heart for California and the call to pursue Him wholeheartedly. Several of my teammates were invited to share personal testimonies of how God has transformed their lives, and God moved powerfully during every session.

One of the most profound occurrences of the conference came Saturday evening. Seb, our student leader, had been feeling a burden to pray for the pure and simple gospel to be preached from the platform, since most of the messages had been directed toward believers. I remember feeling the same thing. On Saturday evening, Dave Sliker spontaneously invited Seb up to pray for the message. Seb came up to pray, but in the middle of his prayer he stopped and began preaching the gospel, calling for the prodigals who had wandered away from God to return home to the Father. You could have heard a pin drop. No one had that moment planned, but God’s heart was yearning for His children, and His voice broke through as Seb spoke. After Seb said, “Amen,” Dave Sliker said, “I want us to respond to that call right now. If you feel like that was for you, go to the back right now and meet Seb — Seb, go to the back — and he’s going to pray for you.”

Several people came to the back of the room for salvation as Dave went forward with preaching his message. Seb later described it as “less of an altar call and more of an ‘awkward call,'” but he prayed with them and, as he had with the guy who got saved and baptised earlier that week, started figuring out a way to make a baptism happen. Mott Auditorium where we were meeting has no baptismal or pool of any kind, but with a bit of frantic creativity they got hose and some sort of trough set up and at the end of the night over THIRTY PEOPLE received baptism!

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Seb praying/preaching, while another teammate stands ready to share a dream God gave her.

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Spontaneous baptisms after the conference!

That was the climax of our trip. I feel like I saw the Gospel in action that week. We came back with so many testimonies of outrageous salvations– and let me tell you, that’s not necessarily normal, even for an IHOPU ministry trip. What was different? I don’t know, but we certainly had a large handful of fiery bold evangelists on our team who constantly provoked the rest of us to step out and share the gospel. Our team developed a habit of seizing every opportunity to invite Jesus to break in and set captives free.

Also, we had a very strong team of intercessors praying for us in the prayer room back home in Kansas City. All of the seven teams reported later that they felt unusually covered in prayer, and that prayer covering seemed to produce a unique grace for ministry. We were so grateful for those who chose to stay and pray for us as we went out. Missions does not happen without prayer. We need the goers and the senders– and the senders must do more than open their pocketbooks, but open their mouths in intercession that “the Lord of the harvest [would] send out laborers into His harvest” and that “the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified.” (Luke 10:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:1)

We left for our drive home to Kansas City late Saturday night after the conference ended. It was a hard drive through the night, but in the morning we arrived at the Grand Canyon and got to bask in the glory of creation while singing worship together. It was such a holy, beautiful, and intimate way to wrap up our week-long ministry adventure together as a family.

Family worship at the Grand Canyon.

Family worship at the Grand Canyon.

I could not love these people more.

I could not love these people more.

Pasadena Ministry Trip part 6: Santa Monica Beach Day

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

I promised there was more of the story to tell… we’re almost done!

On Thursday my team took a “fun day” at the beach in Santa Monica. First, we swarmed an In-N-Out and chowed down on one of California’s greatest treasures: double-doubles, animal style fries, and milkshakes.

We crammed around tables outside by the drive through.

We crammed around tables outside by the drive through.

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Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.

The rest of the day was spent frolicking in the sand and surf, soaking up the heat of the California sun… I’m not normally a true beach lover, but with the right group of people, the shoreline is to me a little slice of heaven.

Picnic dinner under the palms.

Picnic dinner under the palms.

Santa Monica Pier will always be special to me.

Santa Monica pier

I LOVE THIS TEAM with every fiber of my soul.

I LOVE THIS TEAM with every fiber of my soul.

My sister even drove out from Riverside to see me and hang out with my people for a while. It was absolutely delightful to see her, and we enjoyed much sisterly frolicking and girl-talking in the shallow waves. Later that evening, my cousin Carly and her boyfriend Mason came to see me as well, and I spent the last couple of hours exploring the shops and catching up with them.

Left to right: Elise, me, and Carly.

Left to right: Elise, me, and Carly.

Three silly faces and one mildly bemused Mason face.

Three silly faces and one mildly bemused Mason face.

Nothing like a beach sunset. God bless California.

Nothing like a beach sunset. God bless California.

While I was cruising around with Carly and Mason, a few others on my team had the incredible opportunity to baptise two people in the Pacific ocean! On the first night we were in Pasadena, the brother of one of my teammates came to visit her at the missions base. Our student leader Seb had a prophetic word for him, and hearing God’s voice speak so clearly and personally to him rocked him to the point that they ended up having a lengthy conversation about Jesus. He had known God but his life had kind of become a mess, and that night he clearly heard the Father’s invitation to come home. He surrendered his heart to Jesus, and asked what was next. “You need to be baptised!” Seb boldly explained. “Meet us Thursday at the beach and we’ll baptise you.”

So a few days later, he was baptised in the Pacific ocean. That would be incredible enough, but while they were doing that a random guy on the beach asked what they were doing and asked to be baptised also! Two for the price of one, haha!! 😉

My teammate Kenny captured the moment on video:

 

Just to cap off our beautiful day, my van decided to make a quick detour past Azusa Street in LA on our way back to PIHOP. Azusa Street was the site of a dramatic move of God in 1906 that continued until around 1915 and is credited with the birth of the pentacostal movement. It was incredibly precious to us to be able to stand on the site where God’s presence visited the earth in such a dramatic and tangible way and pray for another outpouring in our own generation.

Do it again, Lord.

Do it again, Lord.

Guest Ministering in Barstow

Desert House of Prayer in Barstow, CA

Desert House of Prayer in Barstow, CA

I do indeed still have more Pasadena stories to tell, but I’m going to skip ahead to the present to share something that happened just last week… but began that week in Pasadena.

During the Onething regional conference that my team put on in Pasadena, I met two guys who were from the Desert House of Prayer (DHOP) in Barstow, which is about an hour away from me in the desert. We kept in touch on Facebook, and soon after I came home the director, Trent Williams, invited me to come speak at DHOP at the end of June! They are a pretty small house of prayer and aren’t able to run many live hours of worship yet (though they are planning to activate a 24/5 schedule of prayer with the IHOPKC webstream very soon!) but every month they do a “sacred assembly” of 24 hours of prayer and worship with live worship teams and believers gathering from all over the high desert. This month’s sacred assembly was Friday, June 26, 9:00 pm, to Saturday, June 27, 9:00 pm, and I was invited to speak at a closing service on Sunday, June 28 at 6:00 pm. Additionally, they invited me to speak at Abundant Living Fellowship in Barstow for the Sunday morning service.

I got there Saturday afternoon during the 24 hour burn to help strengthen their worship and intercession as well as get a feel for what their community is all about. I saw a gap on the schedule from 2:00 to 3:00, so I volunteered to lead worship during that time. I led a solo devotional set on piano for an hour, and it was a lot of fun! I love spontaneously singing the meditations of my heart to God, especially out of Scripture, and forming new choruses that the room can join me in. During the last five or ten minutes I was joined by members of the 3:00 worship team, so that was officially my first experience of leading worship with a team of musicians. Whew! Later on, the director and I traded off praying during the intercession times. It was powerful to join Jesus’ heart in what He wants to do in Barstow.

Saturday evening I was hosted by a wonderful couple who opened their home to me and shared stories of their walk with God. I heard stories of dramatic salvation, conviction, guidance, radical hospitality, and God’s relentless pursuit of hearts. Jesus is awesome.

Sunday I showed up at the small church, which could seat about 40 people, at 9:00 for their pre-service prayer meeting. I felt right at home. The prayer with spontaneous worship continued till 10:20 or so, as people trickled in for the 10:00 service. Later as the worship leader led some corporate worship songs, since I was planning to preach about Mary of Bethany, I found myself wishing that he would play a song by Christina Reynolds called “You are My Great Reward (The Mary Song)”. To my shock, minutes later, he actually did!! I was so moved that Jesus would prepare the way by playing the exact song I wished for.

I had so much fun preaching on Mary of Bethany. I went through all three scenes of her life shown in scripture (Luke 10, John 11, John 12) and highlighted her repeated choice of Jesus as her “one thing” over everything else. Mary’s story has meant a lot to me ever since God started speaking to me about her at age 16. God really moved and touched a lot of people that morning, and the pastor said that it felt like confirmation of God calling their community back to intimacy with Him as their first priority.

After a delicious Mexican lunch and a few hours hanging out in the prayer room, the evening service began. An awesome worship team comprised of musicians from around the high desert area led us in powerful, exuberant worship, during which I threw hair and makeup caution to the wind and danced with abandon in the back of the room. I admit to looking a little bit like a mess by the time I took the mic a bit later, but I did at least put my shoes back on!

I had so much fun speaking to that group. I recast vision for the global movement of 24/7 prayer and worship that God is orchestrating in our generation, emphasising Jesus’ desire to be with us, His plan for earth to reflect heaven, and His ultimate worthiness. It was a joy and an honour to encourage their community with what God’s been burning on my heart these last three years in Kansas City!

Esteban Vargas, the worship leader that evening who also pastors Redemption High Desert church in Victor Valley, put together this video of the event, featuring an interview with the DHOP director and me.

As I drove home that night, I felt like I was flying high on what God had done that weekend. He had met us in worship, shared His heart with us in intercession, moved through the messages, and bonded us all together as family.

One other thing – on Saturday morning on my drive out, I noticed this sign marking my freeway exit. Barstow Road is CA Route 247. Coincidence, you say? If you think that’s coincidence, you don’t know my Jesus. 😉

God's raising up 24/7 prayer in Barstow!

God is raising up 24/7 prayer in Barstow!

Pasadena Ministry Trip part 5: Prayer Room and Pasadena City College

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

Two months later and there’s still so much more of the story to tell!

Wednesday was primarily a prayer room day for us. We started our day with the entire morning in the prayer room at PIHOP, then in the afternoon some of us chose to stay and some chose to go evangelise at Pasadena City College. PCC is the 10th largest community college in the United States. We connected with a Christian campus ministry and split into groups to go talk to students.

Often when I evangelise I waste so much time playing the “I don’t know, what are you feeling?” game. It’s like I think I need direct direction or permission from the Holy Spirit before I can talk to someone about Jesus. However, a while ago I finally decided to get over that and just… talk to people. It’s as simple as that. Just start a conversation, be friendly and casual, don’t be afraid to ask if you can pray, and trust the Holy Spirit to lead it.

Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College

My partner and I first talked to a couple of girls waiting for a friend to get out of class. One girl told me that her aunt had died suddenly only a month ago. It was her mom’s only sister. I told her that I could relate, because my aunt, my mom’s only sister, died suddenly a few years ago. I was able to pray with her for peace in her family.

When their friend showed up, we explained we were just visiting the campus, and one of the girls suggested we check out the new art building. Since we had no better direction to follow, plus the fact that I wanted to refill my water bottle (it was HOT!), we decided to take her advice. We wandered through the art building admiring the displays but not engaging with any conversations, but as we came out the other side we saw a girl sitting by herself studying in a courtyard. After discussing whether or not we should interrupt her, we decided to just go for it. We didn’t feel like she was being supernaturally highlighted in a dramatic way, but we both wanted to talk to her, so we decided to just see what would happen.

I asked if we could sit with her, and she was wary at first, then opened up when I explained that we were visiting the campus and just checking things out and talking to students. We chatted for a few minutes about the various programs and opportunities on campus, then my partner asked her what she was reading. Turns out it was a book called Lamb by Christopher Moore, an irreverent satire about Jesus’ childhood. For all its biblical liberties and crass humour, it was provoking some real questions in her. I was able to use that as an on-ramp share with her what the Bible says about the significance of Jesus’ life. I had preached the humility of Christ out of Philippians 2 just a few weeks ago in a class, and so that was the version of the story that came out of me. I talked about God’s desire for and reach for humanity, even though He is so high above the heavens that He has to humble Himself to even look at the created universe (Psalm 113:6), and Jesus’ lowering Himself from that exalted glory to become the lowest of the low, and therefore being worthy of the highest exaltation. I admit, I got a bit overexcited and long-winded, but my partner did a great job of following up by asking questions. The girl admitted she had never heard the gospel shared that way before. She wasn’t comfortable with allowing us to pray for her, but I know God is after her heart and won’t stop pursuing her.

Finally, we met a girl who was already a believer, and was very excited to talk with us about what God was doing on the campus and in the city. We prayed for her, and then she asked to pray for us! She said it was such a huge blessing to run into us. God sure does love to bless His kids!

That night we gathered in the PIHOP prayer room to have an epic prayer rumble for California with their community. When these people do intercession, they don’t mess around. Luckily, IHOPU students can pray as hard as anyone any day of the week.

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My buddy Joash is a hardcore intercessor with a spirit of prophecy.

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“God, we cry out for revival in California!”

That night felt very significant for me. The reason you don’t see me in line with the others in the above picture is that I was on the floor sobbing. It’s not often that I cry in intercession, but that night, it hit me hard. When I finally managed to catch my breath well enough to stand up mostly straight and get out several words in a row, I did grab the mic and managed to shout/sob/squeak out a prayer for Christian college campuses in California– APU, Biola, CBU, Pepperdine, Life Pacific, SDCC, Point Loma, etc.

I spent an hour pacing in the prayer room alone after that prayer meeting. “God, what the crap just happened?” I asked over and over. “What does this mean? Are You calling me to California?” God was mostly silent, but it felt like silence with a cheeky little grin. “Spoilers,” I could almost hear Him saying. I didn’t get any of the details I wanted, but I did come face to face with the fact that I do, in fact, have a larger-than-anticipated burden for my home state.

Hmm.

I wonder what that could mean?

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