Summer Fun and a Testimony!!

July has been a fun month for me. I spent Independence Day at a pool party/BBQ with several families with young kids. On Saturday, July 8, several of us went on our annual TPR Community Trip. We took a day trip down to the Austin area to go tubing on the San Marcos River, swim in a natural water hole called Blue Hole, and get pizza and coffee in the city. The river was GORGEOUS with perfect 90 degree weather!

The next day, July 9, I spent my 27th birthday section leading (managing/overseeing) the prayer room from 5am-11am, then finished the day with church and teacher equipping group. Three Sundays out of the month, all of the teaching staff at The Prayer Room get together at Brad’s house to study and discuss certain topics so that we can get more clarity and grounding for future teachings. So even though my birthday itself wasn’t extravagantly commemorated, I loved spending it with close friends at the prayer room and at church, and felt very much loved and celebrated.

TESTIMONY TIME!!

Last week, Joshua, one of our interns/worship leaders/staff members, shared this incredible testimony (he’s from Yorkshire, so enjoy the British-isms!).

During my worship set tonight God gave me prophecy about a lad who came in. God began to break things off of him… He had once said a prayer, then lived a life contrary to his words… He felt a need to come to a house of prayer…

Afterwards we spoke and… he said he could feel presence of God. I had several words of knowledge about his life and God gave me the number of his birthday.

He repented and renounced several things and right there he gave his life to Jesus! Confessed about having cigarettes, which Holy Spirit had already showed me he had…

Went to his vehicle to get them and threw them in skip outside TPR. Asked him about following his commitment with baptism to which he adamantly wanted to do. Went to Lincoln Square fountain that we have used before for baptisms. He went under, joined with Jesus’ death and raised to new life speaking in new tongues! Praise You and thank You, Jesus!

New Rapid Fire Prayer Topic

At the end of every set, everyone in the room lines up at the mic to pray short “rapid fire” prayers on a certain topic, usually related to something happening within the ministry. The past few weeks, as I shared before, our topic was for finances for a new A/C for our upstairs preschool room. That process has progressed, and WE GOT THE MONEY WE NEEDED, PRAISE GOD! Now, our topic is:

Praying for the workers we are hiring to fix the upstairs A/C units to be able to make the needed repairs for a reasonable amount and to get them up and running quickly.

We need inexpensive, clever solutions and discounts on units that won’t fall apart. Please pray with us for wisdom and favor as we get these units installed!

God, thank you for Your provision! Please finish what You started, have Your hand on the workers, and give us favor in the repair/installation process!

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Revive Texas Is Underway!

We’re now officially on day 11 of Revive Texas since we launched witth an evening rally on Sunday, April 16. Monday through Saturday, people from 340+ churches, plus lots of Time to Revive’s own staff and missionaries, have been going out in teams of four to share the gospel across DFW.

The strategy is simple: LOVE, LISTEN, DISCERN, RESPOND. We approach someone, start a friendly conversation, and ask, “How can I pray for you today?” We pray for them briefly and respectfully, and then ask if we can give them a gift as a reminder of our meeting. We give them a wristband with five colours on it, each with a different verse reference. We then ask if we can share with them what the colours mean, and we pull out a Bible with matching coloured tabs. Verse by verse, we walk them through the foundational truths of the gospel, allowing plenty of time for them to express their reactions. We then ask if anything is holding them back from giving authority of their life completely over to Christ – and many decide to surrender right then and there! Within 24 hours, we get them connected to a disciple-maker who can commit to lead them through a Bible study and walk with them on their journey.

Check out THIS VIDEO on how we walk someone through the Gospel!

I never thought something so simple (and maybe kinda cheesy) chould be so effective. God is teaching me all over again the power of the simple gospel, and how it’s not about my wise and persuasive words, but about His power. (1 Cor 2:4). We’ve been plowing the ground in prayer for years, the church is coming together in humility and unity, and the harvest is RIPE.

So far, I’ve gone out with teams on three outreach sessions. I haven’t seen anyone saved yet, but I’ve gotten to pray with and bless a lot of people, many of them believers in need of a touch from God. I have shared the gospel a couple times, though, and I’m looking forward to the day soon when I see the fruit of salvation in front of my own eyes!

This week, we also have 26 IHOPU students here on a ministry trip. It’s been so much fun to see old friends and make new friends! They have been such a strength to us, both in the prayer room and on outreach. God is giving them amazing testimonies to take back to Kansas City!

One of the testimonies from the IHOPU team! The girl in the middle just got SAVED!

Some of my favourite testimonies so far:

  • A team was in a grocery store with a Bible in their back pocket. A Pakistani Muslim man approached them and asked, “Is that a Bible? Can you explain it to me?” He is now signed up to be discipled!
  • A team shared the gospel with a high school football team of 130 people. 110 of them said YES to Christ!
  • A prision inmate received a newsletter about Revive Texas. He decided to do his own “Revive Texas” inside the prison, and 50 other inmates committed to join him. They share the gospel out of their own Bibles in the prison rec yard every day!
  • A team shared the gospel with customers at a Sonic, and 10 of them got saved!

Credit: Revive Texas

In the first week alone, Revive Texas sent out 755 teams comprised of 2,990 individuals resulting in 310 people who want follow up and 134 souls added to the Kingdom. Additionally, teams that were invited to special assignments such as jails, juvenile detention centers, schools, and businesses saw 415 more people come to know the Lord! We even have a mobile baptismal truck that teams have been using to baptise people immediately after they get saved!

Crazy things are happening. There are SO many stories to share, I can’t possibly fit them all. I encourage you to take some to watch some videos on ReviveTX.org and the ReviveTX Facebook page. There’s nothing in the world like watching someone light up when they believe the Truth for the first time.

Testimony Thursday: Praying for Muslims at Disneyland

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney

Prayer buddies!

Prayer buddies!

(Posted a little bit belated on Friday because I had to get Taylor’s permission to publish this first.)

Last week, I made plans to meet up with a friend of mine at Disneyland. This was a very special meeting because Taylor and I had never met in person, but we had been good friends through Facebook for years, and he was going to be in town with his family as a last hoorah before he started college. I only live about 50 minutes away, so we planned to hang out at Downtown Disney for just a couple hours (since I don’t have an annual pass and I already had an evening commitment). We were both super excited.

That morning, he texted me to ask if I believe in praying for healing. Um, YES!! I assumed he was just doing some study or something on it, and texted back two long paragraphs of theology explaining why I believe this can and should be a normal practice for Christians.

Then he texted back– and nope, turns out he wanted to actually go DO it that day!

We agreed to both spend some time asking God who He had in store for us to meet that day, and we both wrote down several “clues” that we sensed that would hopefully lead us to certain people God was highlighting. One of Taylor’s was “white hat,” and one of mine was “little girl in a Minnie Mouse dress”. We also decided that anyone with evidence of injury was fair game too.

We knew our number one goal was simply to create an opportunity for God to touch people with His love. We weren’t there to pressure anyone; we just wanted to pray, bless, love, and invite God to move.

I was so proud of Taylor. He stepped out with so much boldness and gentleness, and we prayed for a lot of people with canes, etc. We didn’t see anyone get dramatically healed, but everyone we prayed for seemed genuinely grateful, and we believe that God is still moving in their lives and bodies!

Sure enough, Taylor found his white hat! It was worn by a woman coming out of a shop with her husband and kids. We asked if we could pray for her, and she was enthusiastically receptive and her husband even laid his hand on her along with us and agreed out loud with our prayer as I gave her a word I was feeling for her out of John 12:24.

We also met a man who was a deacon at his church and was about to have surgery. We both prayed for healing and he was really touched. Seeing his faith and joy really blessed us too!

I spent most of the afternoon looking for my Minnie Mouse dress. I even went in and out of several kids’ stores. I saw several teenage girls with Minnie ears or t-shirts, but I knew I was looking for a very small girl with short dark hair and a full Minnie Mouse dress.

Finally, I saw her, almost exactly as I had pictured her that morning. She was with a woman wearing a long dress and a hijab, walking toward the security checkpoint.

To be honest, the prospect of approaching a Muslim and asking if I could pray for her in the name of Jesus kind of freaked me out. I’ve only ever done something like that once before. I didn’t know if there would be a language barrier or if she would be receptive.

“She’s going in the gate. I don’t have a pass,” I told Taylor, with some mixture of disappointment and relief.

“She’s only going through security right now. You can go there without a pass,” Taylor pointed out.

Crap, he’s right.

I probably wouldn’t have done it if I wasn’t with Taylor, but with his encouragement I followed her and the mini Minnie through the security line, pausing to chat with and pray for the cast member.

Dangit/good, they’re still in range.

By this time, the woman had joined a larger family, all very definitely Muslim.

I started marching after them, muttering something like “Frick, really, Jesus? Of all the…. Taylor, I have no plan, I HAVE NO PLAN okay come on Jesus…”

I knew I could claim their attention for only a brief minute before they entered the gates of the Happiest Place on Earth, so I got the attention of the woman I had first seen and tried to explain that I had been praying that morning and God had shown me her little girl and I’d been looking for her all day. I showed them the list of clues I had written on my phone earlier and asked to pray for them.

“Yes, of course, we pray all the time, you can pray anytime!” the woman responded.

“Yes! May I pray for you right now?” I asked.

“Uh, how will you pray?” she asked. By this time I had the entire family’s attention.

“I’m a Christian, and I will pray in the name of Jesus,” I responded with more strength in my voice than I felt.

They paused a moment, but agreed to let me pray. I asked if they had any specific needs, and they requested prayers for good health for the family.

So I prayed for health, and blessing, and revelation of Jesus, and for the love of God to touch their hearts. They walked away with smiles and gratitude. I walked away feeling glad I had obeyed and done what God had laid before me, but wondering if our prayers had made a difference at all to them.

My mom later told me a story of a Muslim who reported that after years of living in the US, she’d never experienced an American’s hospitality, and conflating America and Christianity, before being saved she had never imagined Jesus reaching out to her. I was encouraged that maybe my short, weak, awkward prayer stirred up a little bit of curiosity about the Jesus who would show an American girl a Minnie Mouse dress and send her to pray blessings over a Muslim family.

Overall, I call this day a success. Taylor and I didn’t see the miracles we imagined, but we did get to bless and pray for many people and plant seeds of grace in their lives. We got to encourage each other and stir up our faith. We got to practice a lifetyle that we both want to walk in more– not just the healing, but of seeing the people around us through God’s eyes, and saying “yes” when He asks us to move.

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!

Staff Retreat– and $40,000!!!

Every year, the staff of The Prayer Room goes on a weekend retreat together somewhere out in the country. Many call it the highlight of the year, and after being privileged to participate this year, I can see why. All 30(ish) of the staff (full-time, part-time, and volunteer) spent the entire weekend together eating, sharing stories, playing games (I got to introduce some of them to Pit!), shooting guns, making s’mores, praying, teasing, laughing… it was a wonderful time of refreshing and reenvisioning for all of us. The tight-knit friendships in this group are amazing, and I am so honoured to get to spend this season calling these people my family.

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Yes, I did.

staff retreat

Staff hang time!

While we were gone, IHOPU sent one of its best student worship teams down to Texas from Kansas City to keep the prayer and worship going in our prayer room while 90% of the people who sustain daily operations were out of town. They were amazing! They were so willing to serve and really blessed by the opportunity. Several of them said afterwards that those little sets in an empty room were the best worship experiences they’d ever had. We were all so grateful for these guys.

"Team R&R" rocked the house for us all weekend!

“Team R&R” rocked the house for us all weekend!

Also, here’s another $$ testimony…

As you may remember from my previous post, we’re in the process of remodeling a new building to house the ministry and are getting hit with one roadblock after another. God has given us two $50,000 anonymous cash donations on two separate occasions, but every time we turn around there’s another thing that needs fixing and another exorbitant city requirement and another reason to delay the process. Most recently, the city slapped us with some heretofore unmentioned fire code requirements that will cost us at least $30,000. This put us at a standstill yet again, and we redoubled our prayers for God to break in – to change the requirement, give us the money, or preferably both.

Last week, our director Brad and his wife discovered a package on their doorstep containing $40,000. In cash. Anonymously.

40,000

Merry Christmas, TPR.

HALLELUJAH.

This is exactly what we need to move forward on the remodel project and get into our new home as quickly as possible!!

The waiting sucks, but God always breaks in, and He always does so spectacularly.

People have said to me, “It’s too bad you weren’t here to see the base back before everything was so hard!” But you know what? I wouldn’t trade this season for the world. In times of hardship is when you get to see what a people is truly made of. I have seen this community cling to faith and joy, keep the fire on the altar no matter what, and intercede relentlessly for breakthrough. They have kept loving and serving and blessing and welcoming others, even when their strength feels almost gone. They have kept loving and trusting Jesus, even when the circumstances look impossible.

This is a family I am deeply honoured and delighted to journey with. And I’m super excited to help finish remodelling the building and eventually celebrate the move-in with them!

Testimony Thursday: Healing at Victoria Gardens

Victoria Gardens

On earth At Victoria Gardens as it is in heaven.

Today isn’t Thursday, I know. But this story happened last Thursday, July 30, at Victoria Gardens outdoor mall, at the parking structure just east of the library.

I’d like to tell this story with as much detail as possible because when I used to hear stories like this, it sounded so mysterious. It took me a while to figure out that it’s not about me being awesome, it’s about GOD being awesome, and me just taking simple steps to live out what I know is true. This is not a perfect model of how to witness. There are a few things I could have done differently, and I was definitely outside my comfort zone, but I just acted like myself and took the opportunity in front of me. The results aren’t up to me.

Last Thursday, I was coming down the stairs of the parking structure on my way to meet someone, when I heard some kind of accident below me, like someone had just sprained an ankle. I peered over to see one teenage boy helping another up off the ground. By the time I made it to the ground, they were limping away together.

“Hey! Are you guys okay?” I called after them.

They turned around. “Yeah, yeah, we’re fine, thanks,” they said.

“Could I ask you guys something really quick?” I asked.

“Sure,” they said, and came back towards me.

“What happened?” I asked.

“My ankle got twisted,” one guy said.

“Oh wow, I’m sorry,” I said. “Hey, um, I’m a Christian, and I believe in Jesus, and I believe that Jesus heals people… so, would you mind if I prayed for it really quickly?”

“Sure, yeah, of course,” he said eagerly. I asked his name – he was Aaron and his friend was Brian – and I knelt down and he gave me permission to touch his ankle lightly.

I don’t remember what exactly I prayed. On the one hand, I wanted to keep it simple and brief, and on the other hand, I wanted to provide a little bit of a theological foundation for what I was doing. I prayed for about thirty seconds, thanked Jesus for His love and praised Him for who He is, and asked Him to touch Aaron’s ankle and bring total healing.

I asked Aaron how the pain was, and he said it was a lot better! I asked if I could pray again, and the second time I got a bit more bold. I declared that I have the Holy Spirit inside of me and God has given me authority, and I commanded the ankle to be healed in Jesus’ name.

This time, Aaron said it felt a LOT better, and he was standing and walking without a problem, grinning ear to ear.

“So, do you believe in Jesus? What’s your background with God?” I asked.

“I’m actually a Mormon,” Aaron said. “I haven’t been active in the church for a while, but yeah, I believe in Jesus.”

“Awesome! I actually have a lot of Mormon friends, and one thing they’ve told me is that they read the Book of Mormon a lot, but sometimes not the Bible as much. Is that true for you?”

“No, we definitely read the Bible as much as the Book of Mormon. It’s another testament of Jesus Christ…” He briefly explained to me a couple of the tenets of Mormon theology, and I nodded along, but I really didn’t want to get into a historical discussion of Joseph Smith, etc. I knew I had only a few minutes with these boys, and I wanted to focus the conversation on the heart of the matter.

“We could have a whole discussion about all kinds of things here, but as I understand it the biggest difference is that Mormons believe that Jesus is the son of God, but not fully God Himself, is that right?” I asked.

Aaron agreed that was correct and elaborated a little bit, but it felt to me like he was lacking conviction a bit. I didn’t want to let the opportunity go without at least briefly letting them hear the gospel.

“Well, without getting into a whole big thing here or getting all preachy at you, I do just want to tell you that the Jesus who just healed your ankle actually is fully God Himself, and He really wants to have a close personal, intimate relationship with you, and that can only happen when you fully believe and trust in who He really is and fully trust in His grace. It’s not about grace plus ‘all you can do;’ it’s by grace through faith, not works, so that no one can boast. That’s Ephesians 2:8-9. And I’d just encourage you to really seek out who Jesus is in the Bible, and see what God’s saying to you.”

Aaron said okay, and we all said “have a good day,” and went on our ways. He wasn’t limping at all anymore.

I don’t know if Aaron’s been thinking about our meeting since then. I don’t know what God’s up to in his life, or Brian’s. I do know that his ankle probably wouldn’t have gotten healed and he probably wouldn’t have heard the Gospel that day if I hadn’t stopped to talk to him, even though my heart was pounding.

I hope this story can be an encouragement that letting God use you to touch strangers with the power and truth of the Gospel doesn’t have to be mysterious or complicated. It’s not about how awesome we are, but how awesome God is.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
I Corinthians 2:1-5

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.

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

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