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!

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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?

Pasadena Ministry Trip part 4: Hollywood Invasion

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

Life has been very busy since I last wrote. I finished finals for my junior year at IHOPU, left my job at Bed Bath and Beyond, and moved home to California for the summer. I will certainly continue to keep you posted about summer life in Cali, but for now, I want to continue telling the stories of the Pasadena trip.

In my last post I told the stories of Tuesday afternoon, when our team did ministry in the city of Azusa. On Tuesday evening, we invaded downtown Hollywood.

First we gathered at the metro station to take the train downtown. We didn’t want to waste even our train ride as an opportunity for evangelism! We partnered with a guy named Chris Evans (not the Captain America actor!) who is a pastor at a church called Expression 58. He works with a ministry called Love L.A. and regularly does an outreach called “Church on the Metro.”

This is how we bring church to the metro!

This is how we bring church to the metro!

We split into several teams, each including a worship leader on guitar and a speaker. When each group boarded their train, the worship leader started playing and singing loudly and the rest of us joyfully joined in. It was a bit like a church service flash mob! After a while, the speaker would come forward and say, “Welcome to Church on the Metro! You’re to busy to go to church, so we’re bringing church to you! We just want you to know that Jesus loves you and He died to make away for you to live with God…” Most people were either amused or ignored us, but we had some good conversations and got to pray with several people.

As a matter of fact, God orchestrated that train ride to give us as much ministry time as possible. First of all, the train was unusually and inexplicably crowded, and it wasn’t just because we were there. Then, the train stopped underground! We talked to a metro staff member who told us that’s only happened once or twice in his 15 years’ experience. We thank God for our captive audience and made use of the time talking to as many of the locals as we could.

Once we got off the metro into downtown Hollywood, we hit the streets with a bit of travelling intercessory worship. Our goal was simply to bring JOY to the streets. We walked about two miles, singing the most joyful worship songs we could think of as loudly as we could.

Worship walking downtown Hollywood.

Worship walking through downtown Hollywood

Our goal wasn’t specifically to evangelise, but God had divine appointments lined up for us all along our path that evening. We met two separate guys, individually, who had just gotten out of jail and had nowhere else to go, so we invited them to join us! We met a number of homeless people and other individuals who were in need of a touch from God. We got to pray for several of the costumed characters walking around downtown, including Tinker Bell, Spider-Man, and Batman (who insisted on being referred to as Bruce Wayne even as we were praying!). We got to talk with several members of a Scientology church, and at least one was deeply touched by some prophetic insight one of our guys was given into her life that showed her the love of the Father.

Most precious to my heart was an encounter several of my teammates had with a particular young woman.

Them: Do you believe in Jesus?
Her: Yes!
Them: Do you believe in the Bible?
Her: Yes!
Them: So you’re a Christian?
Her: No.
Them: …wait, what?

It turns out she was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – a Mormon – and as they talked to her God began revealing to them some of the secrets of her heart. To her, the church meant constantly striving to be “good enough” to earn His pleasure. This made sense to her because of the relationship she had with her dad, and in her mind, God was no different. The LDS church wasn’t teaching her the true grace available freely in Jesus Christ. She was amazed that our team could prophetically know things about her life, just like Jesus did to the woman at the well (John 4) and Paul talked about (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). She was so touched by the love of God that she surrendered her life to the true Jesus that night!!

The climax of the evening came when we arrived at the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theater. As we were waiting for our vans to pick us up, a guy dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow asked one of our worship leaders to play a song on his guitar. Lance started playing and singing “To Worship You I Live”. We all huddled in a circle and sang, and Captain Jack got very quiet and respectful as he listened.

A moment later, a character dressed (as near as we could figure) as Osama bin Laden pushed his way into our circle and began mocking us, singing loudly, raising his hands, bowing on the ground… and he had an entire crew of professional cameramen with him. (We figured out later that he was part of a popular youtube prank show.)

Our other worship leader Olivia took control of the moment by starting to play and sing “Jesus Paid It All.” Our team quickly joined in. Defeated, Osama bin Laden wandered away to consult his producer and regroup– then came back a moment later and mooned us!! I was so proud of our team in that moment. We all either closed our eyes or looked away, and sang louder.

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

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You cannot shut us up, Satan.

No weapon formed against us will prosper. (Isaiah 54:17)

Osama bin Laden eventually left with his camera crew. We launched into singing the chorus that Olivia had begun that afternoon at one of the Buddhist temples in Azusa, with a fresh Los Angeles twist.

All authority belongs to You, Jesus
You reign in L.A.
You reign in L.A.

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As we sang and proclaimed the victory of Jesus over Hollywood, a lot was happening around us. Captain Jack and a number of passersby stopped to apologise for Osama bin Laden’s behaviour and encourage us that we were doing a positive thing that deserved respect. At one point I turned around and saw a man talking with two of my teammates, then hugging both of them tightly and sobbing. I found out later that he had run away from God and was at that moment surrendering his life to Jesus.

The end of that evening was so powerful and completely unplanned. God dropped a bomb on Hollywood that night through the victorious worship of His saints. What the enemy meant for evil, God used for good. (Genesis 50:20)

Jesus loves Hollywood so, so much. It’s a crazy place, and there’s a lot of darkness, but His eye is on that city, and He will not rest until He sets every captive free.

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We love L.A.! The guy on the left is one of our new friends who joined us, and Chris Evans is behind him.

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

Pasadena Ministry Trip part 2: USC Outreach and PIHOP Prayer Room

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

Tara and I love PIHOP.

Tara and I love PIHOP.

Monday was our first full day in Pasadena. We ate breakfast together and had our morning briefing at 7:00, as would become our tradition. We then spent 8:00-10:00 in the prayer room at PIHOP (Pasadena House of Prayer).

PIHOP is not in any way directly affiliated with IHOPKC, but they are inspired by some of the same vision and use some of the same format. PIHOP’s prayer room is located in the historic Mott Auditorium on the Frontier Ventures campus and is open nearly 24 hours, 6 days a week. They have chosen to close on Sundays so people can participate in their own local churches. It was a real treat for our team to see how another house of prayer functions. As it turns out, their style and format is nearly identical to the harp and bowl model we use at IHOPKC. Since their community is smaller and is not on such a global stage, they have the freedom to be a little less structured at times, which was a fun treat for us to experience.

The prayer room at PIHOP

Some of our team serving with PIHOP’s team in the prayer room later in the week

In the afternoon, we piled in our vans and drove to the USC (University of Southern California) to meet up with the leaders of United House of Prayer on the USC campus (they have an AWESOME VIDEO you should watch!) and also of a recent church plant for USC students called The Warehouse. Wesley Hall, the pastor of the Warehouse, gave us a briefing on doing outreach on campus, and then we headed out to worship and to meet some students.

Briefing with Wes at UHOP

Briefing with Wes at the UHOP prayer room

Our outreach strategy was simple: We ate a lot of pizza (hallelujah) and established a central beachhead of ongoing worship and prayer at one of the fountains on campus. We had one guitar, a trash can which served as a drum (our class has actually gotten really good at this technique during our UMKC prayer meetings), and our own voices, which we had to project to be heard over the fountain. From there, we broke up into two-person teams to spread out around the campus and engage people in conversation to pray for them, prophesy over them, heal them, and ultimately and share the gospel as the Holy Spirit led.

Worship and intercession at USC

Worship and prayer at USC

The atmosphere on campus posed a challenge for us because everyone was in such a dang hurry! It seemed every other person was on a bike whizzing past us, and those who weren’t had earbuds in and were walking like they were on a mission. USC is a very driven and competitive school; many students are taking a heavy classload and two or even three majors!

Even with all the bustle, a number of people were able to have really good conversations and get to pray with osme of the students. My partner and I met a Jewish girl named Cava. The only reason she stopped to talk to us is that we had been asking God to show us who He wanted us to talk to, and He told us to look for someone with red hair. Cava was the first readhead we saw, and she was pretty tripped out that she was on our “treasure hunt” list! She allowed us to pray for her and she really got touched, and I know Jesus is continuing to pursue her heart. Especially since she’s a daughter of Israel– she has a legacy and a destiny that she can’t even imagine!

Another awesome testimony from that afternoon came from a few of our girls who had the chance to talk with and pray for a guy by the fountain who happened to be a Christian. They prophesied over him (by which I mean they spoke the impressions that God was putting on their hearts for him, which described him perfectly and was exactly what he needed to hear) and he was blown away! He said he had studied what the Bible says about the gift of prophecy in the church,* but had never seen it in action. They explained to him how simple it is to hear the voice of God for another person, and invited him to try it. He and one of the girls started praying for the other girl, and as he was praying he did indeed start feeling a word from the Lord for her! He spoke it out, and it was dead accurate and actually moved her to tears. He was thrilled that he could actually hear God’s voice and God would use him to speak His heart to others, and she was personally encouraged and so excited to see God teach him to prophesy like that!

That night we were served dinner by an Arminian church that one of our IHOPU friends not on the trip belonged to, and they were incredibly generous and hospitable. Connecting with our spiritual family from around the world was one of the great honours of this trip.

We wrapped up the evening with an intercession set in the PIHOP prayer room. We prayed for kids in the Los Angeles foster system. I was so proud of my team, that even for those of us who had never before thought to pray for this issue, we knew it was on God’s heart, and we had been sent there to pray, so pray we did.

This is how we pray.

This is how we pray.

That night was our trip coach’s (the main staff leader) birthday, so we decorated the courtyard of our dorm building and hosted a (good-neighbourly quiet) little surprise birthday celebration for him! Matt Kossler has poured out so much for this trip and he is truly one of the kindest, strongest, most encouraging human beings I know. We were all blessed to get to serve with him.

And that was our Monday. Stay tuned for more Pasadena adventures coming soon! Tuesday was possibly the craziest day of all…

*Since I mentioned prophecy… here are a few highlights, from 1 Corinthians 14 (read it ALL!) and others:

“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy…. the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation… if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you… For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged.” 1 Corinthians 14:1, 3, 24-25, 31

“I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…” Acts 2:17

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

“…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10

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