KANSAS CITY (MO)
The Roys Report [Chicago IL]
November 29, 2023
By Rebecca Hopkins
About 20 former International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC) staff led a silent protest today in the ministry’s prayer room to highlight abuse allegations against IHOPKC founder, Mike Bickle, and to stand with victims. Normally, IHOPKC livestreams services in its prayer room, but today’s livestream didn’t show the protest.
“Right now, the understanding of my generation is the church does not protect the sheep,” said Susan Tuma, protest organizer and former IHOPKC staffer. “We want to come in here and say, ‘Be the people you’ve been called to be. You want to change the expression and understanding of Christianity in a single generation? . . . Then do that.’”
Bickle has said that in 1982, he received a prophecy that God was going to change the expression and understanding of Christianity in one generation. In 1999, he founded a 24/7 prayer movement at IHOPKC.
Last month, allegations that Bickle engaged in clergy sexual abuse with several women, spanning decades, surfaced. Since then, former staffers and advocates have expressed lack of trust in the organization’s ability to handle the matter internally and have called for an independent investigation.
However, IHOPKC leaders discounted some of the allegations and said an independent investigation is premature.
At 9:30 a.m. Central Time today, protestors began walking into IHOPKC’s prayer room and sat down, Tuma told The Roys Report (TRR). Then around 10:15 a.m. Tuma said she put red tape with the word “truth” over her mouth and stood up.
One-by-one, others followed suit, she said. They also handed out papers to others in the prayer room that called for an “unbiased and transparent third party investigation” into the allegations against Bickle.
“We are using our voice for those who cannot so that any victims know they are not alone,” the paper stated.
The paper also gave some action points, including praying that hidden things will be brought to light and showing support by wearing the red tape provided.
Tuma said IHOPKC executive leaders Stuart Greaves and Lenny LaGuardia came into the prayer room during the protest.
IHOPKC normally streams the 24/7 prayer sessions on its website. But TRR watched and captured the livestream at the time of the scheduled protest and didn’t see the protesters.
Both Tuma and protester Jolynn Madden told TRR that people texted them to say that IHOPKC seemed to be using a prerecorded set rather than the livestream of the protest. Tuma also texted to TRR that the prayer leader up front was “a woman in a white hat.” That didn’t match the description of anyone leading worship on the livestream.
The IHOPKC press office didn’t immediately respond to TRR’s request for comment.
Protestor Charlea Taylor said the prayer room had more security guards there than normal, and that security guards were posted at the front door. But she said the protesters wanted to model a peaceful, safe protest.
“We showed people that we are safe,” she said. “We want the culture of IHOP to be safe. We want the leadership at IHOP to be safe.”
The protest was modeled after a typical protest that evangelical Christians might use at a prolife meeting with the red tape over the mouths of protesters, said Madden. She said while she stood, she read the scripture that was hanging on the wall: “May the Lord grant justice for his elect who cry out to him day and night.”
“I was praying just that the truth will continue to come to light in this situation and that those who have been harmed will find healing,” Madden said.
Tuma told TRR that she’s had a dream about IHOPKC’s casualties laid out in the street. She said she hopes it doesn’t become another scandal in which leaders are “circling the wagons,” rather than caring for the wounded.
“In the dream . . . I turned to the paramedics and I say, ‘Why aren’t the bodies covered up,’ . . . and (they) said, ‘We ran out. There were so many, we couldn’t cover them up anymore,’” she said. “This needs to be done right so this is not yet another wound in the collective soul of everybody who witnesses it.”