What’s my history with IHOP? I’d been to a JHOP (Justice House of Prayer) event at Harvard when I was an undergrad. Years later I was reintroduced to IHOP, which I talk about here. My intro to JHOP is mentioned here. I gotta say that my experience with the IHOP regional conference in Fremont had such a great impact on me, that I needed to see this place for myself. Funny thing is that I was able to visit the other 24/7 house of prayer in Atlanta before checking out the main one in Kansas City.
I know I’m going to write a post about cults eventually, talking about IHOP, Bethel, the Ecstatics, and whatever else people like to call cults. The title of that post will be something like, “Which Cult Should I Join?… All of Them!” Maybe I’m overly sure of myself, but I’m just not afraid of cults. I think Christians are spineless when it comes to many things, especially influence and intellect.
I helped make it possible for a good friend of mine to go to IHOP for a few months. I hope I don’t regret saying this, but I was trying to rescue him from the spiritual numbness of my hometown. I believe that my friends from home are beautiful and passionate creations of God, who’ve yet to realize this to its fullest. Whatever it took, I was going to try to impact those who I love so dearly, who happen to also be, those who seem incapable of really understanding me. At any cost, my dignity, my money, my time, my reputation, I just believe in them that much. That’s not to say that I wasn’t impulsive and impatient, because I was, but these are the people I pray for regularly (and I have my prayer journal to prove it!).
Anyhow, since my friend had gone ahead of me, I cashed in on the social capital and had him connect me to one of the most generous and hospitable families I’d ever encountered. Pastor Min opened up his home and family to me, a stranger. I met him at the airport while he was picking up some other visiting pastor. I almost missed the message telling me that he was there, b/c my phone was off… funny how that works out.
One was a Korean pastor from Canada, one was a pastor from South Korea, and finally, there was Pastor Min. They were all very kind and fun, especially the one from South Korea. As we got acquainted, they enjoyed hearing stories of my adventures. What cracks me up about them is that throughout my time there, they kept trying to match-make me. We eventually arrived at the house of prayer, as Pastor Min wanted us to see it, and to run a few errands. I remember on the way there, meeting Gilbert, a Chinese guy and Richard, a Korean guy. These two were more in my age group.
Now, to give some background, I was in between conferences. I’d brought all my musical instruments to the Artificial Intelligence in Digital Entertainment Conference, that’s at Stanford every year, because that Saturday would be the day that we’d be gathering Christian PhD’s at Stanford. See, I’d already planned my KC trip before changing the date of the PhD Jam Session to being somewhat of a conflict. Ethan, one of the collaborators for the Jam Session didn’t know if he’d be around since he’d just gotten his PhD, and Kenneth, from UCSF, had a few constraints because of a wedding, marathon, and other UCSF constraints (which, BTW, Kenneth doesn’t even show up to the Jam Session). I leave AIIDE early to go to the KC Conference and I leave the KC Conference early to come to the PhD Jam Session. Here’s a snapshot of that week.
Anyhow, Ethan gives me a ride to the airport. I leave with him some Heidi Baker books from the 100 that I felt I needed to buy, my djembe, my stands, other materials, and I decided to take my sax with me to Kansas City. I know that it confused people, as to why I had my sax, but I had it b/c of the Jam Session I was preparing for– that doesn’t really explain why I brought it, but it was a nice suitcase for my clothes :P. As a result of having it, they did connect me to Gilbert, who was into Jazz… Cool, a Chinese guy who’s into Jazz.
Anyhow, this is what the prayer room looked like. The atmosphere was amazing, which sucks b/c I didn’t have much time to spend there. It wasn’t until December/January, that I got to really appreciate this room. What does it feel like to be there?… Well, it feels like a room full of people falling in love.
Pastor Min lives like a 3 minute walk from the IHOP prayer room. After seeing the prayer room, we go to his house where I meet his lovely wife and daughter. I also get to eat delicious food. This house is responsible for why I love kimchi, seaweed, and rice. I eat that all the time now.
So at dinner, I get to talk to the only other person my age who was around, Richard. At first, he was tucked in his computer, which is probably what I look like all the time. I believe the turning point in our interactions, was when he started talking about Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), which I know a lot about because I study interactivity and games. Richard has become a surrogate brother over the past few months. It’s yet another one of those typical divine appointments (which gets even more bizarre as I continue telling about all that happened in those 2 days).
I’ve always wanted an older brother. One who does really cool things, one that I can copy off of and learn from. Richard is that with his experience with web media, and keeping up with technology trends. Being a bit older than me, he was also able to handle much of what I could throw at him. I’d say he’s a bit of a mix between my good friend Jared, who’s more of a colleague, and my undergrad research adviser, Stephan, who was more of an mentor. Richard is to web technology and media like what my Vietnamese big brother, Daniel, is for music. He is to tech what my Italian/Mexican brother, John, is for politics and style.
We’d get so deep into conversation, showing each other website after website. I’d show him my blog, he’d show me his. I’d show him my podcast, he’d show me his art. Richard came to KC with the pastor from South Korea. That pastor later said to me that it’s strange to see Richard talk so much, that, often, Richard won’t say anything. There’s no way to explain this except to say that I’ve never learned more about a person, and had someone learn about me in the 2 day amount of time. The only other noteworthy thing about him is that he knew how to play “the game,” and so far in life, the only other person who was this good was my undergrad research adviser, who I’d consider a surrogate father. I’m usually the one who is steps ahead, so it was nice to meet someone who also thought in those terms. That is to say, I got schooled. Yes!… The brother I always wanted.
So, the same mission to inform people of this PhD Jam Session was on my heart. I’d seen Mike Bickle before in Fremont, but I didn’t speak with him. This time, I wasn’t gonna let this “Prophet Point” slip through my fingers. Bickle’s book, “Growing in the Prophetic,” was the first book, I’d ever read on the greater teachings on spiritual gifts. His teachings were some of the first I’d listen to. I remember driving back from the Jersey Regional IHOP Conference with my friend Chris, and we just listened to his explanation of the prophetic on MP3s. I find Mike Bickle to be the most down to earth, the most logical, and the most well organized of the other leaders in this sort of movement. His take on what God is doing and how he does it is so different from Bill Johnson, Heidi Baker, John Crowder, etc. He’s far more practical.
For instance, with Bill Johnson, I feel like this whole supernatural thing is a bit too extreme and counter-intellectual at times. With Heidi Baker, she’s so unpredictable and incomprehensible sometimes. John Crowder projects overwhelming amounts of zeal with no regards to what’s comfortable for people. Bickle, is so methodical, that he’s often predictable, repetitive, and algorithmic which would more likely offend the free flowing, emotive types of people.
Worship at the conference was great, a bit predictable in structure, and somewhat a ripoff of Jazz music, but more on that in another post. This room was also where Bickle preaches every Sunday for church.
During a Q&A, I’m able to talk to Mike Bickle, who I believe was genuinely excited to speak with me, regardless of what I was about to tell him. His energy is sincere, for someone who’s not a naturally wacky guy like either of the the John Crowder or Ben Dunn duo. I told him about my PhD friends, that I needed direction as to what I’m to do once I gain audience with these highly educated individuals. Mike looks at me with a smile and introduces me to Sarah Sun Kim who’s on leadership there in KC. Sarah got her masters at Harvard and was well on her way to potentially being the next Condoleezza Rice for her research on North Korea, until she decided to do the House of Prayer. My vision didn’t quite stick with Sarah though, and she was just trying to get me to break down my vision into more manageable pieces.
With the people I’ve approached in regards to this PhD driven “Reclaim” effort, I get a read as to how much it sticks with people. Of all the people I’d presented this to, no one caught my vision as well as Heidi Baker did that first time in Knoxville. By now, I’ve told Heidi, Bill, Bickle, Jake Hamilton, Jaeson Ma, Graham Cooke, Kris Valloton, Sarah Kim, Lou Engle, Brian Kim, Joaquin, Georgian Banov, Lance Wallnau, Os Hillman, John Stackhouse, local Christian PhDs and pastors, those in the video game industry, and other staff members from IHOP and Bethel.
I know that seeing Mike Bickle a couple months later, that he remembered me. While, Bill Johnson, Kris Valloton, and Graham Cooke were among those the least interested. Jake Hamilton and Georgian Banov were encouraging because they are just nice guys. Then there are those who have related ministries. Jaeson Ma said that this was an answer to prayer, with no followup, similarly to Lance Wallnau, who said that he’d be in contact to connect me with like-minded aspiring leaders. Sarah, Lou, and Brian are also related, but I haven’t had as much exposure to them and they weren’t sold by my elevator pitch. Os Hillman, who I just met this weekend, didn’t seem to catch it either (but maybe he was just tired). I’ve become familiar enough with Joaquin that I knew how to go about speaking with him; I said I could get him an audience with some of the most well educated doctors and dentists, talking about my friends at UCSF. John Stackhouse, who I write about here, was one of the more refreshing and encouraging contacts. That is to say that I’d group Mike Bickle with Heidi Baker and John Stackhouse in terms of response.
While in Kansas City, I was able to meet up with my friend, who hooked me up beyond what I could’ve expected. I even got to meet many of his friends and hear about his stories of the adventure so far. In any case, I was only at the conference for 2 of the 3 days, b/c I had to get back to the Stanford Jam Session. More than anything the 2 things that I’m going to talk about next are really what impacted me most.
Here’s where things got weird…
One of the last meals I ate with the Min family and friends, the pastor from Canada is speaking to the others in Korean, while occasionally glancing at me. I have no idea what anyone is saying, Then Canada Pastor turns to me and asks, “Do you know heavenly language?” I’m like, huh? Richard says, “tongues.” Whoa, I’d just “unlocked that achievement” like 2 months ago. I’m then told the following:
Pastor Min had a dream a few days ago where a young Chinese American girl came to his home to pray for his family in tongues. Of all those who’d heard of this dream, Canada Pastor was the only one who was certain it was me. I mean, it makes sense; however, my staying with this Pastor was a last minute deal that my friend scored for me. I didn’t even know who I was staying with until I was picked up from the airport AFTER I’d landed in KC a day or two prior.
Praying in tongues b/c someone dreamed that I would was scarier than actually receiving tongues back in Atlanta. I hesitated very much; I was shy and embarrassed. Yoonie and Chris (from home) had heard my tongues before, but this was different. I felt like I was being offered an opportunity to “level up,” and it was my choice whether I’d step into a greater maturity in this “gift” that I hardly understand much less wanted. My instinct was to look back at Richard, who was the perfect one to push me into the deep-end of the pool, as that is the sort of thing big brothers do.
So, Pastor Min’s wife sits by taking notes or something, while I start mumbling in tongues. I must have been hardly audible, but grew in confidence over time. I remember giving them a word (in english) about being their home being a field for young people from all over the world, a field of butterflies, I think I said. Where people can mature into the fullness of their calling, where they can rest and transform in a safe place. This to me, felt more like natural intuition, more than supernatural words from the Lord, but encouraging nonetheless. To be honest t, it’s still hard for me to know the difference, even when I prophecy things that happen a week later, or describe something that happened the day before without having any clue, it still feels like I’m just making lucky guesses.
It turns out Pastor Min’s wife can interpret tongues. Me and my hometown friend were like, whoa, we never met anyone who could interpret tongues, that’s cool. I don’t know what she was saying b/c it was in Korean, and I was so embarrassed that I hid in my room after praying for them. Richard later told me that she said that, in tongues, I’d referred to some verse in Galatians, and she concluded that I was “prophetic.” I’m sure there was more, but that’s all I was told. Cool, someone else thinks I’m prophetic. It wasn’t until this past February that I was finally willing to accept that I probably do have the gift of prophecy (another story, another time).
That’s pretty weird right? I mean, maybe Pastor Min had heard about me, and had a dream subsequently. Maybe they were making the whole thing up and there was no such dream. Maybe it’s all just a weird coincidence. Either way, still pretty cool. As far as dreams go, this next story is far more uncanny. Mind you, I was only in KC for 2 days.
The last session I got to go to had a closing time of response and worship. I was standing in front of stage-right, receiving prayer, and I had one of my more vivid visions. The moment was apparently intense for many people. I don’t remember crying, but possibly. As a warning, what I saw was a bit morbid:
I saw myself on like an autopsy table, with my skin pealed back and pinned– much like dissecting squids or fetal pigs. I was clearly being operated with tools, which reminded me of the game “Operation.” The tweezers were pulling out my intestines and organs. Everything was grey and dead– I couldn’t feel a thing. First, God was telling me that many of my insides had died. Second, I felt that God was indicating that I’d been anesthetized in the moment, that, probably, I could feel, and that, perhaps, it’d be quite painful, if I’d not been numbed. I do remember asking God, why I couldn’t feel anything in the process of my insides being pulled out with tweezers.
Finally, I could tell two things, that (1) stuff was being removed and (2) God was trying to show me something inside myself. As my guts spilled out like spaghetti, the tweezers pulled out this small red, almost glowing round-ish object. “What is that?” I asked God. First, it was the right size and color to represent my heart, the only thing with color, in fact. That seemed to indicate that almost everything had died, except a small vibrant red heart, meaning that I was still alive. The first conclusion was a straightforward interpretation. The second one was more meaningful.
What I felt God was showing me, after asking what it was, goes back to a memory from when God spoke to me while I was 10 years old. God told me why I should live– the three reasons were as follows: (1) that my life will alleviate the suffering of many others, (2) that 5 people (at least) will not come to know Jesus, if I choose to not exist, and (3) that I had a specific and unique message only I could give, and that I wouldn’t understand it until it was time to be given– that I should keep that message safe, b/c of how important it’d be.
In that moment God was commending me in regards to this promise that I’d forgotten. That in the midst of all that had happened to me in life, despite how often and severely the world tried to crush me, I protected the one thing that God had given me. The world had taken everything, all my friends, material possessions, and family. The world continued to cut me down and played all the odds against me. The one thing the world couldn’t take from me was the only thing I had left, everything else was gone or dead. This world is after that message, and God was showing me that it’s there, vividly and safe. He was telling me, that I’d made it.
Awesome. I mean, that’s one of the most powerful moments of my life. Perhaps it reads like a nice piece of fiction, but it’s all true. The next part is what validates it all.
Richard was having a more profound emotional experience, while I felt quite emotionally numb that evening. On the bus ride back to the prayer room, Richard kept referring to this dream he’d had a couple weeks ago. I didn’t want to pry, because he didn’t really want to tell me. He’d say something along the lines of, “if I tell you, it might not happen”– like a kid protecting his birthday wish.
So, we get back to the prayer room, sitting outside, I begin to tell him my vision. “That’s so crazy… that’s so crazy,” Richard repeats over and over again, after I’d finished talking about my “operation.” “What’s crazy?” I ask. He pulls his mini notebook to show a drawn picture of a bird being operated on.
The dream that he was reluctant to tell me about was as follows. Somewhere outdoors, while walking about, he finds a bird that looked dead, with its guts spilling out. He takes the bird indoors, puts it in a box, and starts removing the dead organs inside, like the game “Operation,” he said. Inside the bird, he found that the heart was still alive. He then goes to get some other tool or something and the bird flies away. Now, for him, the dream had meaning independent of what was going on with me. It turns out that he did get his birthday wish after all, in regards to family and healthy hearts.
We were both like, “what just happened?!” Needless to say, my head was both numb and confused after that for a little while. Ethan, who picked me up from the train station, had no idea what’d happened. It was the state of mind that I wasn’t expecting, in prep for the this big event to happen right when I got back to California.
Well that’s it. In my experiences, IHOP has affected me more than Bethel, but that may have to do with a matter of whether or not I’m traveling alone. My experiences seem be to weirder when I’m going it alone. I’ll end with this…
I love Pastor Min’s daughter. She’s adorable and I got to sing this Korean song to her, which made her flip out. She said it was scary to hear me “singing in Korean.” Haha, in my subsequent visit, they sat around the table to hear me sing it again. If you ever stay at Pastor Min’s house, you’d bring a lot of joy if you sing them this song: