It was the year I turned 23.
I was bright-eyed, excited and full of hope & anticipation.
Sure, I’d been through some rough stuff, but I knew that the Lord
was the keeper of my life and I was heading into a new season of trusting Him deeper.
I was moving to Kansas City! My long-awaited (14 years) dream of being in Kansas City to be a part of Mike Bickle’s ministry which had now branched into an International House of Prayer was finally materializing into reality. I had big hopes and dreams and wanted nothing but to serve my God with everything.
Since I was 12 years old, my family and I had driven the 3 hour trek to Kansas City for conferences at the church Mike Bickle pastored at the time (It is known by various names as they changed at different stages: Kansas City Fellowship, Metro Vineyard Fellowship & Metro Christian Fellowship). My spiritual roots had, in many ways, grown from the times that I spent in these gatherings and what I felt God imparted to my life while I was there. I had been around…marinating in the environment for about 14 years; so I knew a lot about the history that led up to what is now known as IHOP (the International House of Prayer). I remember one of the first times Mike shared his vision for starting IHOP. Many left Metro with Mike when he stepped down as senior pastor to help support it’s start-up.
So fast forward…IHOP was still within its first 5 years of operation and I was captivated by what I saw and heard. If there was a “poster child” that endorsed IHOP and who was convinced it was the best thing going, that would have been me. I say all of this to lay a back drop for what follows.
A long journey and a lot of waiting preceded the decision to move to Kansas City. My family and I unanimously agreed that after much prayer, it was the right timing so we sold or gave away half of what we owned, packed up the rest and moved to the Utopia of what we thought would be the greatest spiritual adventure of our lives. I had a background in the arts…music, dance, etc and couldn’t wait to get involved so I could really feel like I belonged there…not just a visitor hanging in the periphery and coming for conferences. I wanted to get “in”.
When we arrived on moving day, the “community” we were hoping to be a part of and the support of those we knew from IHOP appeared to be quite lacking. We were told that to obtain moving help from IHOP, we had to hire them at a ridiculous hourly rate ($20/per person, per hour) which we could not afford. When the neighbors who lived next door found out that it was just us and we had NO help moving in, their family came over and helped us unpack our moving truck for approximately the next 3 hours–for no charge–just to be good neighbors. Oh…and did I mention they weren’t even believers? They had compassion on our predicament and carried boxes and hauled furniture without complaining once. They simply smiled and said “welcome to the neighborhood”.
The un-relational climate we had seen hints of in the past became rapidly obvious upon our relocation to IHOP-KC. There was a lot of talk about “community” but everyone I met was so tunnel visioned on “always being in the prayer room” that they didn’t want to socialize or make time to build real relationships with people. There was a relational vacuum and the disconnect I felt upon my arrival was overwhelming. This was a significant concern of mine and my family but we rationalized it away with “oh, we just haven’t been here long enough. Eventually, we’ll feel more connected and involved and we’ll see the relational community that IHOP advertises here. Just give it time.”
Within a month, I joined the One Thing internship (which is an intensive 6-month long internship program for 18-25 year olds). I had really felt it was what I should do and had the support of my family that this was a great thing for me. They also felt it was a great way for me to connect to the ministry we had all moved here to be a part of. So our family’s income tax return went toward the steep $4,500 tuition fee for the program and I came on board in August. I was full of excitement and felt that things were finally coming together for me. At least that’s how it appeared.
This is where it all began for me….