Special Blog from Brad Stroup: The Path to Revival

Brad does not often post blogs, though as the director of The Prayer Room he does have a blog page on our website where you can find some old blog posts. But in the aftermath of Revive Texas, there were a few things on his heart he felt strongly enough about to post and ask urgently to be read and considered by the Church. I’ve felt similarly looking around at what’s happened in DFW the past few months, and I asked Brad’s permission to share his blog post here with you.

The Path to Revival

Brad Stroup

For those who are unaware of all of the details regarding to the recent 50 day initiative of reviveTX, this post is a thought-through assessment of what transpired, what could have been, and what I believe needs to happen now.  To begin with, there were some 350 congregations in the DFW area that committed to be part of reviveTX (representing well over 100,000 believers).  Outreaches then commenced 6 days a week for 50 days from locations all over the Metroplex.  Nearly 6000 teams went out to share the gospel (though the total number of individuals represented probably only included 1,000-2,000 locals).  I would estimate that over $2,000,000 was sown into our region for all the collective efforts and needs of reviveTX to see the work go forth.  I would estimate that the net result was that some figure over 3000 people gave their lives to Jesus for the first time.  The tireless efforts of the Time to Revive team (mostly from out of town) and a few hundred locals that really poured their heart and soul into pulling this off was inspiring.  I’m grateful for every miracle, every salvation, and every blessing that came forth during the wonderful days of reviveTX and I am thankful to call all of these fine people my friends and co-laborers now.

All of that sounds encouraging, but now that reviveTX has come and gone I think it’s time for some real talk and some self assessment, and for us as Church to take a long look at what really happened and what needs to.  Why did only about 1% get invovled and what would have happened if even 25% of the churches that said they were on board would have actually particatipated?  What if just 10% of the Church in DFW would have been engaged in what God was doing, in this gift He was giving our region?

If we learned anything from the 50 days of reviveTX, it’s that DFW isn’t ready to see a revival yet.  While we say that we want revival in our city, I think that these are yet vain words that do not reflect the true state of the Church in our region.  We are all entitled to our opinion, and mine, as an intercessor who’s been praying for revival in DFW for the past 10+ years, is that we were just given the single greatest opportunity for partnership in a genuine move of God that this city has ever seen, in which God was showing us unprecented favor and salvations were happening everywhere the gospel went, and we allowed it to pass us by.  We showed a complete lack of discernment; it seems that we were disinterested in what God wanted to do, we were unresponsive to the invitation, and the window of opportunity came and went and barely anyone noticed.

To me this says a lot about where the Church of DFW is really at spiritually right now; while it may not necessarily be indicative of extreme immaturity, it really did make our priorities clear and I believe reflects a real lack of understanding of how the Kingdom of God operates.  It showed that the Church in our region is made up of individuals that as a whole right now have not died to self yet.  Overall we are unperceptive about what God wants to do in our city through His Church and we are not able to discern even revival when it is right in front of us.  We lack significantly in the area of spiritual hunger and we are totally unwilling to pay any price to see things change because there is a complacent satisfaction with the way that things are.

These statements are tough, but they are not meant as a condemnation on us; rather I want to give an accurate assessment of where things are in the hopes that we might evolve.  I have great pain in my heart about these things; I feel that I am part of the problem and I am willing to take responsibility for my lethargy (severe lack of spiritual hunger) and prayerlessness (severe lack of corporate prayer gatherings) that I believe to be the real root of our problem.  I’m not angry with the Church in our region, just the opposite– I am jealous to see us shine in the fullness of what God has for us.  I am perhaps saddened by our current reality, but even more I am invigorated to find solutions so that things are no longer permitted to remain this way.

I think it is unrealistic to think that a Church that doesn’t hunger would respond to an invitation for more.  I think that the reason that DFW didn’t respond to the incredible invitation of reviveTX is that we really aren’t hungry for God.  Taking some additional ownership here, I think that the default spiritual climate is always going to be lethargy in Western Culture because of our affluence and abundance and that rarely would any Western city have a real driving spiritual hunger unless war had been declared on that lethargy from the place of corporate unified prayer.  We aren’t hungry because we aren’t praying.  It all actually makes a lot of sense to me; I don’t like where we are but I feel that I understand it and that there is a clear prescription for how to change things.

I see a clear lack of hunger, and, while that would not be universally true of every believer in DFW, I believe that it is a reflection of the vast majority; we are simply too comfortable and self focused to care about moving the Kingdom of God forward at the moment.  I think that it all starts back at prayer which holds an irreplaceable part in this equation and which I believe to be the first element that must be firmly in place in order to see things change.  If the Church will not pray, then the Church will not take the following steps in partnership with revival either.

I am proposing that we press in for renewal and awakening as at no time in the past, but to get there we will certainly have to respond differently than we have in the past.  I want to see revival in Dallas Fort Worth and it will not come unless the Church begins to pray in a way that we have never done before.

Here is my charge: I want to charge every person in DFW who has a relationship with Jesus to join or to start your own weekly prayer meeting crying out for revival in DFW.  And once you have started attending that weekly corporate prayer meeting, I want to ask you to not stop until we see revival come to our region no matter what else may come up in your personal life.

“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you (Ho. 10:12).”

 

Until He Comes,

Brad Stroup

Director of The Prayer Room Missions Base

 

Reposted with permission from theprayerroomdfw.com

The Miracle Internship That Almost Didn’t Happen


Ever since the conclusion of our spring Immerse internship, we’ve been hard at work laying plans for our summer Immerse internship. At last, it’s time and WE HAVE AN INTERNSHIP! That in and of itself is such a miracle. The past few weeks have been a figurative roller coaster…

Up to about three weeks ago, we were seriously questioning whether Immerse would even happen. At that time, we only had two interns, and were asking the question of what our minimum would have to be. The senior staff settled on five — if we didn’t get five interns, we would cancel Immerse.

Over the next few days we did get two different people signed up! So we had four… and we still had four the day before orientation, which would be Sunday, May 28. We had some generous partners help make two full scholarships available, and we were still actively personally recruiting as hard as we could, but no luck was to be had.

I was praying hard, and I still felt like I was supposed to keep working on preparing. So even while the internship was probably going to be cancelled, I was editing curriculum and finalising the schedule and assignments.

On Saturday afternoon, senior staff put their heads together and eventually decided to go ahead and do the internship even with four. I was at the base that night till 2:30am after Encounter service printing orientation papers and assembling intern binders.

The next morning, I got two texts about new interns who wanted to come to orientation! I quickly assembled binders for them, and at orientation, we had six Immerse interns!

The roller coaster wasn’t over, however. Since then, we’ve lost one, gained one, and gained-and-lost one. We had seven for a hot minute, but our total seems settled at six now.

We’re already in our second week of classes, and I will be teaching session two of Intro to the End Times tomorrow. Most of our classes are taught by a small band of staff on rotation, but the End Times class on Saturday is all mine to teach every week. I’m excited! Our interns are really great, and I’d so excited to get to know them better and watch them grow over the next 12 weeks.

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. Right now, our topic is:

For 100 new people to sign up for a weekly prayer meeting here at the base (we call this our Sacred Trust) in order to help us continue to contend for revival in DFW.

This is how we build and grow, by inviting people to commit to come pray with us at the same time each week for a two-hour prayer meeting. The name Sacred Trust reflects how seriously we take this time as priests before God. We’re especially asking for people who can serve in specific roles as worship leaders, prayer leaders, ushers and section leaders. Also, in order to properly grow, we REALLY need some more full- and part-time missionaries!

God, set watchmen on the walls here at The Prayer Room. Build Your house of prayer — bring us a hundred new people to join Sacred Trust!

Revive Texas Soft Launch & Other Updates

I’m a little late with getting this post out, but things have been super busy and exciting around here the past few weeks!

As I’ve shared beforeRevive Texas is an unprecedented movement of unity within the Church in DFW to put on 50 days of evangelism, with daily gatherings for prayer, worship, testimonies, fellowship, etc. The Prayer Room is serving as a central 24/7 prayer hub for these 50 days, and our director Brad Stroup has been working closely with Time to Revive‘s director Kyle Martin. This means that The Prayer Room is getting a HUGE spike in exposure as Brad has had numerous opportunities, in partnership with Time to Revive, to speak to congregations and leaders about our involvement with Revive Texas and what we do as a house of prayer. (Years ago, God gave TPR a clear prophetic word that we would one day be “launched to the region” and our influence would suddenly increase dramatically, and we’re starting to see how Revive Texas might be a big part of that word’s fulfillment!)

Since we’ve been praying for more church involvement, over 300 local churches are now on board with Revive Texas, including ALL of the host locations we needed! Praise the Lord!

Last Saturday, Time to Revive did a soft launch of what the 50 days of outreaches will look like. All ten of our regional host churches opened their doors early in the morning for a time of worship, encouragement, prayer, and training before 500+ believers hit the streets to share the gospel. This is the biggest movement of unity in the church of DFW for the sake of the gospel that has EVER happened. Words like “historic” and “unprecedented” are not exaggeration. And this was only the trial run! Once the 50 days starts, 500 is going to seem like a very small number. We’ll soon be gathering and going out by the thousands.

The Prayer Room had a very unique part to play on Saturday. Time to Revive asked Brad to lead the time of worship, encouragement, and prayer from our prayer room via live internet video streaming to all ten churches. This is a HUGE honour and responsibility. A few weeks ago, they donated thousands of dollars worth of cameras, lights, computers, and software to make streaming possible in our little prayer room. On Saturday’s live stream at 8am, a few worship leaders led a few familiar songs, Brad preached with 150% of his usual energy for about 15 minutes to the camera in an empty room, and then he talked the viewers through a few prayer topics and gave them time to gather in small groups to pray. The entire live stream took 45 minutes, and then at all ten of the locations people received a bit of further training and gathered in groups of 4 to hit the streets to share the gospel. This is going to be happening several days a week for the entire 50 days of Revive Texas.

You can watch the entire video at the link below. The first 30 minutes are set-up, so start around the 31 minute mark after the countdown.

Saturday morning devo/prayer for Revive Texas


Later that morning, while all 141 outreach teams were sharing the gospel all over DFW, some of the TPR staff gathered in the prayer room to pray through LIVE updates from the outreach as we received them. We were praying by name for people on the streets who were receiving prayer and hearing the gospel. Several of us felt that it was the most powerful and exciting prayer meeting we had ever been in! I had the privilege of leading worship for some of it while Luke and Lisa took turns praying through the live updates.

The stories we started hearing were incredible. One couple a team met in a parking lot said they were believers but got so excited hearing the gospel shared so clearly, and they were spontaneously convicted by the Holy Spirit of immorality and decided on the spot to get married. That’s revival. Teams shared the gospel with a father and son fishing, an entire Buddhist sports team, single moms out grocery shopping, and hundreds more. The night before the outreach, the Spanish translator at a church for the pre-launch rally got saved while translating!!

Here are some of the numbers Revive Texas reported in their recent email:

  • 549 people went out on Saturday morning throughout the 10 regions.
  • 141 teams went out to share the love of Jesus.
  • 37 people requested discipleship.
  • 12 people said YES to JESUS! 

Revive Texas made a video of the outreach that day. The video is 8 minutes long, but it’s SO worth it. Watching Kyle share the gospel in such a simple, biblical, relational way and watching people say YES to Jesus for the first time… that’s my favourite kind of thrill. Click HERE or on the picture below to see it on Revive Texas’ website.

We’re only at the beginning of hearing these testimonies. God is doing something huge in DFW, and I encourage you to pray with us for people to get involved and lives to be transformed.

One more thing: On Sunday night, Brad had the opportunity to be on an hour-long radio program for The Word 100.7 FM along with Kyle Martin talking about Revive Texas. I recorded the whole thing and you can click HERE to download and listen.

Revive Texas: 50 Days of Prayer, Unity, Evangelism, and Discipleship

First, quick update: I’m currently in Wisconsin visiting my dear friends Abigail and Rondale, whom I know from IHOPU and whose wedding I was privileged to be in last July. It’s been a lovely few days hanging out, watching LOTS of Netflix, and tagging along with their normal life stuff. I’ll be in Texas on Wednesday, January 18, and then my new life as a full-time intercessory missionary with The Prayer Room Missions Base will officially begin!

However, this post is mostly not about me. This post is about something EPICLY HUGE that God is doing in the DFW region. The Prayer Room is participating wholeheartedly, but it’s so much bigger than us.

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Time to Revive is a ministry that tours the country mobilising dozens or hundreds of churches in a city to unite and strategically spread the gospel through their whole region. The focus is on awakening the church to pursue revival in their cities.

This spring, from April 16 through June 4, 2017, Time to Revive is launching a 50 day campaign in Dallas-Ft. Worth called Revive Texas. Revive Texas will unite the church (hundreds of churches across many denominations) in an unprecedented way to come together in prayer and go out together to share the gospel. I’m so excited for what this will do for church unity in the region and also for the incredible testimonies we’re about to hear!

Check out this video to find out more about the vision and strategy behind this movement:

The DFW region has been divided into ten smaller regions, each of which will have its own host churches and outreach teams. To my understanding, having ten regions is something Time to Revive has never done before in any other city. We’re basically getting ten revival campaigns for the price of one! I will be in the green area centred around the city of Arlington.

dallas-mapEvery day for 50 days, local believers will come together at host churches for fellowship, prayer, and training, and then will be sent out in small teams to pray for people and share the gospel using a very simple evangelistic model. People are welcome to participate in as much or as little of the schedule as they are able.

  • 7-8am: corporate prayer
  • 8-9am: community breakfast
  • 9-10am: training
  • 10am – 12pm: outreach (go out in teams to pray for local churches)
  • 12-1pm: testimony time (share what God did during the outreach)
  • 1-2pm: community lunch
  • 2-3pm: training
  • 3-5pm: outreach (go out to pray for people and share the Gospel)
  • 5:30pm: community dinner
  • 7-9pm: evening service (teaching, testimonies, worship)

Each of the ten regions will have a prayer hub covering the outreach in prayer with worship for several hours each day. These ten prayer hubs will be existing local houses of prayer that are smaller than The Prayer Room but already have the vision and structure in place to lead the charge in intercession.

On top of these ten smaller prayer hubs, The Prayer Room will serve as a central prayer hub with 24/7 prayer and worship for all 50 days. This is huge for us. We already are doing 18 hours a day, and even outside of Revive Texas we’re just a few steps away from being able to launch a night watch that will make us continually 24/7. Since we already have the vision and structure in place, the extra people and motivational oomph of Revive Texas will enable us to carry the torch 24/7 for these 50 days. Hopefully, some of the people who join us and the other local houses of prayer for this campaign will stick around after June 4, and the entire prayer movement in DFW will be strengthened long-term.

Check out the video below, and also THIS LINK about The Prayer Room’s involvement in Revive Texas:

If you live in the DFW region, you can find out how to get involved at ReviveTX.org.

I am so excited about all God is going to do during Revive Texas. I will keep you all updated as preparations unfold, and I will certainly share testimonies as the campaign gets underway.

In the meantime, here’s how you can pray:

  • Unity, vision, and hunger for revival in DFW churches
  • Wisdom and strength for the leaders
  • Necessary funding and logistics to land
  • Hearts to be prepared, both in believers and the unbelievers we will encounter

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest
to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Luke 10:2

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The Call: Azusa Now

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(Credit: Luke18)

Earlier this month, I boarded a bus in Kansas City with 100 other IHOPU students (well, we had two buses) and drove 32 hours straight to Los Angeles, CA to participate in The Call: Azusa Now on April 9, and then re-boarded the bus again the next morning to drive 32 hours straight back to Kansas City. Talk about a whirlwind weekend!

Azusa Now is a massive prayer gathering organised by Lou Engle to rally this generation to cry out for revival like the Azusa Street revival of 1906. This was my first experience at one of The Call events, and I was blown away by the power and presence of God.

  • Racial reconciliation and church unity was a huge theme. Leaders from Native American, Hispanic, African American, Messianic, and Catholic communities were onstage publicly honouring each other and repenting for lack of unity.
  • Bethel, IHOPKC, Circuit Riders, and many others led worship.
  • So many leaders in the church and missions were on stage with Lou Engle – Heidi Baker, Bill Johnson, Loren Cunningham, Daniel Kolenda, Todd White, and many more, including my very own home pastor Danny Carroll from Water of Life!!
  • Gloria Engle and Andy Byrd both gave powerful calls to say “yes” to the call for missions.
  • People stood up from wheelchairs, hearing loss was restored, brain cancer was healed, and much more!
  • Shawn Bolz called out accurate prophetic words of knowledge from the stage to specific people in the stadium. Watch the video HERE.

We were all so stirred up on the way home. Tired as we were, we still evangelised at every gas station and held impromptu Bible studies, worship sessions, and prophetic ministry to each other in our vans. We touched God’s desire to sweep this nation with revival, and we actually started to believe it was possible.

Beyond the public move of God that we all experienced that day, the event touched me very personally. Some of these leaders and ministry styles were ones I first connected with years before I came to Kansas City, in my early days of learning to move with the Holy Spirit. I even got to see some of the California friends and leaders in my life who used to run with me in those days. In that stadium, I found myself stirred again to embrace a lifestyle of prayer for revival along with boldness in healing, prophecy, and evangelism. That passion is a precious gift that I cannot afford to let fade.

The first 12 hours of the 15 hour event are available to watch on Youtube if you missed the live stream:

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We got special passes down onto the field. (Credit: Luke18)

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Mike Bickle on stage with Lou Engle and Bill Johnson. (Credit: Luke18)

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IHOPU students crying out in the rain. (Credit: John DeBeeld)

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IHOPU students ministering to an attendee. (Credit: John DeBeeld)

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Todd White releasing faith and fire! (Credit: John DeBeeld)

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Native American believers prophetically playing traditional drums. (Credit: John DeBeeld)

azusa now leaders

National and global ministry leaders uniting around the cross. (Credit: AzusaNow2016)

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My home pastor Danny Carroll (white shirt) praying on stage with Jack Hayford and Lou Engle. (Credit: Me!)

Azusa Now Becca FB

Testimony from my new friend Rebekah.

 

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.

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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