I spent April 4-10 in Boston, MA with 350+ fellow students from the International House of Prayer University. It was a fast-paced week of ministry filled with prayer, worship, preaching the gospel and reaching out to the sick and poor. I could tell countless stories and testimonies from that week, so I’ve decided to focus on some of the key experiences that deeply impacted my life.(Pictures to come…)
Stepping onto Harvard’s campus was a surreal moment. As I walked between elaborate buildings and droves of tourists, I was struck with the history of that place. I began to realize what kind of giants the students of IHOPU were facing as we roamed that campus. My friends were endlessly berated with obscenities as they preached the gospel on Harvard Square. Hundreds of my fellow students prayed for the sick, shared their testimonies and worshipped together at one of the oldest universities in our nation. A young Harvard student walked through the campus heralded shouts of praise to Jesus, crutches in hand after being instantly healed from a leg injury. These moments are forever impressed on my heart. On that campus, I witnessed a company of young believers’ unashamed of the gospel of Christ, declaring His goodness and the coming Kingdom. Light is shining in the hardest and darkest places.
2. Boston University
I entered the Boston University campus on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. It was the warmest, brightest day of the week and the sense of summer was everywhere. It was a beautiful day I’ll never forget. That morning, a song in my heart drew me to remember the faithfulness of God, and I felt joy increas all throughout the day. By the time I arrived at the campus, all I wanted to do was preach the gospel. Little did I know, the Lord had a divine appointment prepared. Following the beckoning of a friend, I turned the corner of a building to discover a sea of college students, 500 strong at least, basking in the sun and enjoying the gorgeous day. Heart racing, I walked to the center of the crowd, eyes half closed, recalling the testimony of the apostles giving witness to the Savior they adored. I spent the next hour of my life, voice bellowing and pulse pounding, sharing the story of my salvation and bearing witness to Christ. It was a moment that will forever mark my life. My heart has never felt so full.
3. Johnny Cupcakes
One of the first thoughts that crossed my mind when I heard IHOPU was going to Boston was ‘Johnny Cupcakes’. I’d been following the brand since I was 14, hoping to visit one of the stores for years. One early morning, after coffee and bagels, I urged a couple friends to come with me to the Newbury St. store. I was giddier than a school boy when I first stepped foot inside. I have to admi, it was a little difficult explaining my excitement about an obscure, bakery themed t-shirt shop the size of of an average living room. Sometimes there are things in life that have special meaning to you but not your friends. That’s just fine with me. I went back three more times.
4. Tremont Temple
Tremont Temple Baptist Church. As I wandered around that historic building and stood in the Sanctuary that once hosted individuals like Sam Houston and George Lorimer, I felt the immensity of our hour in history. 40 Days of fasting, weeks of planning, months of anticipation, years of prayer, decades of Church History-we are on the fringes of revival. I felt the gravity of it so deeply those hours at Tremont Temple. As we prayed, worshipped and re-committed ourselves, the urgency for revival hung thick in the air. Time is short. The days are dark. Hope remains. Until He returns, we set ourselves daily to knock until the door opens.
1. ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
I’m reminded of a song I used to sing in elementary school, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” It’s a simple statement of faith and yet so staggeringly profound. I’ve spent so much of my life fighting for comfort and security, yearning for confidence in my accomplishments. This year, however, has been a journey of learning what it means to be poor in spirit. In weakness, in humility, in letting go of my striving to fall into the everlasting strength of God, my hope is full. The Boston experience filled me with a greater sense of trust and security in the love of Christ.
2. Every day is an adventure
With every year that passes, I am more convinced that life is only common when we settle for common. The difference between mediocre and extraordinary is found in the small choices. Wandering around downtown Boston, meeting new people, sharing the gospel, preaching on trains, praying for the sick and absorbing the details reminded me that adventures sit right at our doorsteps daily. We need but step outside of comfort zone and seize it.
3. We are a family
I consider myself an independent individual and often imagine that I can ‘do just fine on my own’. Every day, I believe that less and less. People need one another. Friends, teachers, classmates, co-workers, teammates, leaders, spouses, children, parents, siblings – no matter how much you strive to isolate yourself or keep your relationships at bay, you cannot escape your need for others. We are wired this way, to love, help, teach, lead, follow and learn from one another. Boston really brought the student body of IHOPU together, connecting friends that would otherwise never meet and putting us in situations where we could grow together. Opportunities like this are precious and few; golden reminders to fight for the destinies our brothers and sisters. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
5. Blessing, honor, glory and power be to our God forever and ever
After 60 hours of travel, 4 days of ministry and countless unforgettable experiences, I can only stand in awe of God, humbled and moved to tears by His tenderness. There really is no one like Him. When I looked around during services and meetings in Boston, I saw much more than students at an unknown, unaccredited Bible school in Kansas City. My eyes saw hundreds of real, powerful salvation stories, complete with tears, joy and life – hundreds of salvation stories that God gathered to Kansas City to shape, grow and commission to the ends of the earth. For me, Boston was a glimpse of hundreds of destinies that would see the fruit of thousands, even millions of souls saved from death and prepared to meet Jesus when He returns. Face to face with the kindness of the Father and the story He is weaving, there is little more you can do but sit and weep in silent awe and worship. This is just the beginning.