My Proposal to Megan MacGillivray

I know that people usually like this kind of stuff, so I thoEngangement Announcementught I would write out the story of how I asked the most beautiful girl in the world to be my wife. So here goes nothing!

Before Megan and I started dating she had told me how she always wanted to go to Disney World because she absolutely loves everything to do with Disney. I told her that I grew up less than an hour drive away from Disney World and she was more than a little jealous. We started dating about seven months ago and I knew that I wanted to marry her about two months into it. I went ring shopping around that time and found the perfect ring. I instantly knew that the perfect place to propose would be at Disney World in front of the Cinderella Castle during the fireworks. So, we planned a trip to Florida so Megan could meet my parents and we also made plans to visit Disney World (and I planned to propose there, but she didn’t know that). So, we got to America and decided to visit Disney World the first Saturday of our stay. While we were talking to my sister, she suggested that we try and go to Be Our Guest, a replica of the Beauty and the Beast ballroom, for dinner. It was then that I learned that Megan’s favorite Disney movie is Beauty and the Beast, so of course I wanted to make this happen for her. I went online to make a reservation and was let down when I found out that they were fully booked for the entire day. I thought I would have more luck if I called, but they told me that their reservations were fully booked for the next six months. I was even more determined to get a table at this stage. I went back online and decided to click “reserve” over and over hoping to happen upon a cancellation that I could snatch up. After about an hour of what seemed like a futile mission I was offered a table for four at 7:20pm! I clicked “book reservation” as fast as my finger could move! “I got it!” I exclaimed. It was time for a change of plans; I was now planning on asking her during dinner at Be Our Guest.

We left early the next morning and arrived at Disney just after they opened. Megan was like a little girl in a fairytale the entire day. I thoroughly enjoyed watchin
g her the entire time. She kept saying over and over, “This is the best day ever!” and with the ring safely in the zipper pocket of my shorts, all I could think was, “Just you wait!” It was all I could do to keep it inside.

A couple of hours before our dinner reservation Megan wanted to visit some of the gift shops. While she was doing that with my niece “I’m just going to go check on our reservation” I said to her. I actually was going to ask them to help me with the proposal. The manager was extremely helpful and offered to help out by giving the waiter specific instructions for our table. A special dessert platter would be brought to her with the big question written on it in chocolate. So, after a chFullSizeRenderange of clothes, we all made our way to dinner.

My heart was pounding during dinner and it seemed like it was taking an eternity. Megan left the table to visit the restroom and I said to my niece and friend who were with us, “Is it hot in here?” they both laughed at me and told me that it was in fact freezing cold inside the restaurant. Megan returned and we all finished our dinner. My heart was pounding to the beat of “Wipeout” when the waiter approached our table with the dessert cart. It was time to ask the big question. So many thoughts ran through my mind all at once. Did he remember the Ring Closeupplatter? What if he drops it? What if she hates the ring? What if she isn’t sure? How is my hair? The waiter placed the platter in front of her as her eyes glanced down toward the table and focused on the big question. Her eyes filled with tears as I removed the ring from my pocket, got down on one knee and said the most cheesy words that had ever come out of my mouth, “Megan, will you make me a part of your world?” She looked at me with a smile and exclaimed, “Of course I will!” We finished at the restaurant and hurried to the castle to watch the spectacular fireworks display as a newly engaged couple. It was a spectacular day!

Looking back at the IHOPU Student Awakening

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The following is a biographical sketch of the awakening that touched the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. This was a move of the Spirit that was specifically significant for me in a personal way since I had the privilege of being involved from its beginning. As my season at IHOPU comes to a close I believe it would be appropriate to revisit some of those stories to stir my faith and the faith of those reading to believe for the Lord to do it in other regions of the earth to which certain ones in the body of Christ are being sent. I am convinced that we whom the Lord was pleased to give this move are called to release it into the nations. I think about the coming days when revival is in full stride on a global scale and the ones facilitating it are the very ones I locked arms with for four years and laid on the ground next to as the Holy Spirit was simultaneously reconstructing our hearts. Not everything about this awakening was perfect but its results are undeniable; hearts were set on fire for the gospel, physical healings were commonplace, and they will never be taken away. Many people will look back on that period of ten months and be able to say that their lives never were the same after then. Looking back myself I am overwhelmed with the honor I had in praying for certain ones, which resulted in them being transformed on the spot. Though I cannot remember who they were I can remember the random people who would come up to me a year or so after the awakening ended and would tell me that I had prayed for them at an awakening meeting and they met God. Above all it is a humbling experience to hear things like this. I hope once again to have my faith and the faith of those I come in contact with stirred to believe for another wave of the Spirit that will surpass the last. I believe that the awakening was just the beginning of a new season of revival that the Lord is going to release on the earth. The stories to follow are real accounts of what the Lord did in a period of ten months and are no limit to what He will do again.

On November 4, 2009, only a few months after the ten-year anniversary of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOPKC), the International House of Prayer University (IHOPU) was having their normal chapel service as they did on the first Wednesday of every month. It was at this time that the senior class had ended a forty-day fast asking for the Lord to come visit IHOPU with a move of His Spirit. The chapel service continued as normal and Allen Hood, the president of IHOPU, called for a time of testimonies. A girl by the name of Mai Aiello (now Mai Fink) took the microphone and began to tell of how the Lord had set her free from self-hatred. She told her story of how she had nearly been raped when she was younger and as a result had deep wounds of shame in her heart that had manifested physically in a digestive tract disorder. She had been in Montana at a healing service a few weeks before where a leader of the church had prayed for her digestive condition to be healed. It was later revealed that the root of this disorder was the brokenness of her heart that had developed a stronghold of shame and despair on her life. This same leader prayed for freedom from self-hatred and shame that had taken hold of her because of a past experience where a boy about her same age had attempted to rape her. When he prayed for her she was instantly set free of all shame and bitterness toward herself that had taken a hold of her heart and her digestive tract was restored instantly. After sharing this story she prayed for everyone in the room who wanted to be free from this stronghold of self-hatred. Many students that night experienced the same freedom that Mai had been given and thus the fire of the awakening had begun to spread.

I remember one particular night before November 11 when I was in the prayer room as a part of a requirement for my internship and there was a group of first-year IHOPU students in a side room who were being particularly noisy. Everyone’s curiosity was a bit stirred by this, which caused the pacing lane in front of the door to the side room to become fairly crowded. Curiosity got the best of me and I eventually ventured into the side room to see what all the commotion was. The door closed behind me and I was instantly met with hands being laid all over my torso. I immediately felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in the room and on my body. There really was a sense of overwhelming peace that came over me. I wasn’t really sure what was happening but it was evident that the Lord was moving.

A week after the chapel service classes at IHOPU resumed as normal and on November 11, 2009 Wes Hall prepared to teach on Israel in the first-year class called Forerunner Curriculum. Nobody had any inkling as to what would happen on this day. At nine in the morning when class began Wes felt prompted by the Lord to wait on the Holy Spirit. This resulted in students being massively touched by the Lord and finding their identity in Him. “Some were lying on the floor, others were weeping, and some were laughing,” said Hall, who led the class with Allen Hood, president of the ministry school.[1] Wes Hall who was a lawyer from England and was normally very reserved was on this day described as “walking like a chicken”[2] and being weighed down by the presence of the Lord. Wes described the event saying he was hanging on to the pulpit and kneeling because he could not stand. He even said that if the pulpit had not been there he would have been prostrate on the floor of the stage. News of this outpouring spread rapidly to the rest of the missions base and soon hundreds of people were joining the class late in the afternoon that was scheduled to dismiss at noon. This meeting would last for over fifteen hours with testimonies of physical and emotional healings happening constantly.

News spread to the entire IHOPKC community that something unusual was happening at the Forerunner Christian Fellowship (FCF) auditorium Just about 2 miles down the road from the main Global Prayer Room (GPR). It was early afternoon and the One Thing Internship (OTI) that I was a part of was in our normal core class. This is where I first learned about the meeting that was taking place down the road and I was not a little curious about what exactly was going on. That night the GPR went on as normal and the 24/7 prayer meeting continued. A group of interns and myself begged our intern director, Ron Downing, to allow us to go to FCF instead of our prayer room commitment. He declined our request and stressed the importance of keeping our sacred commitment to be in the prayer room. All of us decided however to hold our own prayer meetings in side rooms where we experienced the joy and delight of the Lord. The ushers – whose duty it was to keep the prayer room quiet in order to maintain a sacred atmosphere of prayer – didn’t know what to do with us. Some demanded that we keep quiet while others came into the side rooms and were overwhelmed with the joy of the Lord and thus unable to continue ushering. Ashley Prior was leading worship at 8pm that night and she and her team became overwhelmed by the power of the Spirit. It was evident that the outpouring they were experiencing at FCF was not contained by those four walls but had spread to anyone who was hungry for it.

We were all pleased to learn that at 10pm that night the leadership of IHOPKC had planned to relocate the GPR to the FCF building for the remainder of the night. Our curfew for our internship was normally 12:15am but for this particular night Ron allowed us to be at the meeting until 4am. I remember the first night being like nothing I had ever seen before. People everywhere were laid out on the floor completely lost in the presence of the Holy Spirit, others had the appearance of being intoxicated (often referred to as “drunk in the Spirit”), and some were shaking uncontrollably. There was also another group of people who felt nothing and even were laughing at and making fun of those who were being touched physically. It was an unusual night to say the least but was filled with power and freedom. I remember the entire back row section where the bleachers are being one long “fire tunnel” where anyone who was passing through was immediately apprehended by a dozen intercessors releasing the fire of the Spirit on them.

The next day signs were posted on the doors of the prayer room, which read something like this, “Due to the unusual move of the Spirit the prayer room will move to the FCF auditorium tonight at 6pm.” That day my internship had our normal “Burn Class” with Corey Russell, one of the senior leaders at IHOPKC and attributed with his fiery personality and passion for the knowledge of God. Instead of teaching he called for a time of ministry. I went forward with many others with a desire to know God as my Father. A young man laid his hand on me and I instantly fell on the floor and was overwhelmed with the love of my Father and began crying out loudly and testifying, “I am a son of God! I am a son of God” That same day some interns gathered around me and prayed for my legs to grow longer (I have always wanted to be taller) and that day I grew an entire inch! It is hard to explain what actually happened in me but I remember laying my head down to sleep that night and being overwhelmed with a sense of security. The only way I know how to explain it is that I felt as though I had been an orphan my entire life, had just been adopted, and was spending my first night in my new parents’ home.

The following week – all IHOPU classes being cancelled – the leadership of IHOPKC decided to hold nightly meetings from 6pm-12am and introduced the name they were giving the movement as the “IHOPU Student Awakening.” IHOPKC soon released the following statement on their website: “The Lord began an awakening amongst our students on November 11, 2009. Since that time, we have been holding extended meetings as the Lord continues to pour out His presence. Before November 11, the Holy Spirit began moving in the hearts of the students to prepare them for this move of God. The students passed through a season of confessing sins, repenting, and engaging in several twenty-one-day, student-led fasts.”[3] They began with a two-week trial run of meetings from Wednesday-Saturday from 6-12 and then made the decision to continue these meetings until the Lord told them to stop.

Wes Hall and Allen Hood were placed in main leadership of the movement and were the facilitators of the meetings. During the awakening a new department was introduced called the Testimonies department. There was a section closed off during the meetings with stacks of paper on clipboards available to anyone who had a testimony of healing or deliverance to write down and it was documented in IHOPKC’s records. Most of the testimonies that came out of the awakening were a result of people who were in the congregation praying for those who raised their hand to receive prayer. Wes and Allen prayed for a few people but mostly the Lord was working through His entire body. As these testimonies began being shared it became evident that the Holy Spirit was not only moving in the small community of IHOPKC but was visiting the city of Kansas City.

On one occasion there was a man who worked at a casino in downtown Kansas City who had begun backsliding from the Lord. He also had issues with his wrist and was in constant pain. One night he was considering how he should return to the Lord and saw a shuttle bus from IHOPKC and decided to follow it. The shuttle led him to the FCF auditorium where the awakening service was being held as normal. He walked into the service and was a little surprised by what he saw to say the least. People gathered around him and began praying for him, which resulted in his wrist being healed instantly. He rededicated his life to the Lord and, after sharing his testimony, Wes Hall prayed for him, he fell to the floor, and was laying on the stage for about an hour under the power of the Holy Spirit.

There was another girl named Ashley who was a part of the One Thing Internship that took place after my internship had ended. The entire internship after mine was a quite interesting one actually in that many salvations and much deliverance took place among its members. Ashley had come to IHOPKC from Texas drunk or high and wanted nothing to do with Jesus. She had been raped about a month prior to coming to do the One Thing Internship and had developed a deep sense of self-hatred, which caused her to give herself over to a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol. She had done this to rid herself of all the bad memories of her past that were constantly oppressing her. When she arrived at IHOPKC against her will she was not happy with what she encountered. She was convinced that the place was a cult and began contacting her sister who had forced her to come and begged her to get her out. She eventually came around and thought she would try this thing out, so she had her core leader, Rachel Weyman, pray for her. As soon as Rachel prayed for her the memories she had of her past were completely gone. She would try to think of a negative memory from the past and was unable to do so. All she could see was what she described as whiteness. Before she was set free Ashley said that she had a vision of Jesus standing before her with His arms open telling her all she had to do was run to Him. In the vision she was literally unable to move though she wanted to run to Him. After being set free she was presented with the same vision but this time she ran to Him and embraced Him. After this, she and Jesus began break-dancing together. The last part sounds unusual but it was a testimony to Ashley that Jesus actually cares about things she cares about and loves her for who she is. I do not have time nor space to tell of the rest of the testimonies that took place within the One Thing Internship alone. It may be safe to say that the entire internship got saved though.

         The main message that was released in the awakening was that Jesus doesn’t only love His people; He likes us. Allen Hood began trumpeting the message of Isaiah 62 where the Lord speaks to Israel saying, “…You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord delights in you, [4] After this message was given people everywhere began writing on their bathroom mirrors the word “Hephzibah” to remind themselves of the way Jesus sees them. This was the reason for all the miracles that were taking place. Jesus was healing thousands of people physically and emotionally not because we were begging Him to – we weren’t – but it was rather because He genuinely delights in us and wants His people walking in wholeness. This was the message preached almost every night but it never got old. It wasn’t just words being articulated by a gifted preacher, but it was a real message that was being confirmed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

            The leadership of the movement did well to give the Holy Spirit room to move from what I saw. Wes Hall gives his own take on his experience as a leader in an interview on March, 9, 2013. “I think the biggest challenge as a leader is you want to take your responsibility seriously as part of an organization but you want to let the Holy Spirit move as freely as He can. And sometimes it’s walking that tension where the Holy Spirit wants to move and you take the microphone. [You have to trust] the Holy Spirit to do what He loves to do; that’s the hardest thing to do. I think sometimes the Holy Spirit [wanted] to do things and I took the microphone too soon to be honest. I think when you’re the leader you can end up taking yourself too seriously and end up jealously guarding something that you feel passionate about, not even realizing that the Lord is jealously guarding it more than you are. [The biggest temptation is to] adopt behavior styles and ways of acting that you did spontaneously under the anointing of the Holy Spirit without thinking about it. And you want to get back to that place so somehow it’s in your subconscious that ‘If I do these things, if I move this way, if I speak these phrases the Holy Spirit will move in the same way.’ It becomes a ritual. It becomes like a religious spirit [and we think] if we do these things the Holy Spirit will move in this way. If we stand and say ‘Come Holy Spirit’ the Holy Spirit will move. It’s not rooted out of malice, it’s rooted in hunger to see the Lord move more. But the reality is when God wants to move He’s going to move. I can’t manipulate God, I can’t make God do something He is not doing. The biggest thing is recognizing when the season is birthed and recognizing when it’s over and moving with the Lamb.”[5]

         Opposition arose to the movement from certain ones accusing IHOPKC of being a cult and brainwashing their students. Some were saying that the spirit that was being poured out was a demonic outpouring and warnings went out on the Internet to anyone who would read them to stay away from the Awakening. More research reveals that those speaking out against the movement had a problem with the ministry of Mike Bickle to begin with. Thus their views were biased at best. The biggest opposition however was not that the outpouring was demonic but that there was no outpouring at all and was simply man-made hype. Mike Bickle answered this accusation by admitting that some people would act in the flesh but concluded that this fact does not annul this move of God. Regardless of these oppositions the awakening continued to strengthen and its influence increased. Testimonies began coming in via the Internet of people who were watching on the live Webstream or on GodTV. Some testimonies of people being raised from the dead were given in this way.

         On October 9, 2010 the leadership of IHOPKC ended the nightly awakening meetings after many of the senior leaders heard from the Lord each individually that it was time to bring them to a close. The awakening meetings were discontinued in order to take a step back and prepare for the next greater wave. Mike Bickle released this statement at the end of the meetings: “The awakening leadership received a word from the Lord from several people, leading them to the conclusion that it was time to discontinue the awakening services for a season. At that time, the nightly meetings were full of life and full of people, yet Wes Hall, Allen Hood, and the awakening leadership team responded in obedience to the word from the Lord. It is very unusual for leaders to stop such meetings when they are full and successful by every human standard. The fruit from laboring for eleven months in this time of awakening (November 2009 to October 2010) is very good. We received over 6,000 testimonies of emotional and physical healing from all over the world and we have had the privilege of baptizing over 1,700 people. I am very proud of the excellent leadership of Wes Hall and Allen Hood and their team. The IHOP–KC family is in a much better place because of their labors.” Unlike other movements in the past the awakening ended at the choice of the leadership and no scandal was involved. So now, nearly three years after the end of the awakening things have returned to normal, but the expectation for another move is always on the minds of IHOPKC staff and students. Though the meetings have ended the awakening still continues and we wait for the Lord to move again.

 


[2] I have heard Wes describe himself in this way many times

[4] The New King James Version. 1982 (Is 62:2–4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Wes Hall quoted on March 9, 2013

Circuit Riders

Hello once again to everyone!

These past two weeks have been extremely busy so I apologize for the late update. Let me explain a little bit about what’s been going on. On October 1st the Awaken Internship here at THOP began and 9 young adults arrived to begin their season here in Tauranga as interns. We externs have been added on as internship staff so we will be living with the interns for the remainder of our externship. I think I’m finally all settled in here in Tauranga and everything is starting to feel like normal life. It seems as if the romance is beginning to wear off and I’m starting to get into a good routine. These last two weeks have sort of taken a toll on me however and it’s nice to have a break now. 

The same day that the internship started we started an intensive from YWAM called Circuit Riders. There was a girl in Kona at the YWAM base there who had a dream and in the dream the Lord appeared to her and told her He was raising up the circuit riders again. The circuit riders were missionaries during the first Great Awakening who rode on horseback throughout all of America preaching the Gospel. They went into every home they saw and shared the gospel of Jesus hoping to reach every soul in America. Most of the circuit riders did not live past the age of 33 due to the harsh conditions they exposed themselves to. They were completely committed to the gospel no matter what the cost. This was the vision that the Lord has been giving to the staff at YWAM so they have been traveling the world and training believers in the preaching of the gospel and setting a fire in them to see the lost saved. They have done Circuit Riders schools in Orlando, London, Denver, Los Angeles, Kansas City, and now Tauranga. They have seen many conversions as a result of motivating believers to get out and share the simple gospel with everyone they come in contact with. 

These past two weeks we all went out on evangelism outreach and the first day we saw 46 people give their lives to Jesus! The final number of those who accepted Jesus these last two weeks in Tauranga was 120. And about 1,000 people heard the gospel of Jesus. I am so thankful to Jesus that there are now 120 more people in Tauranga who love Jesus! We have been praying a lot in the prayer room lately the prayer of the Moravians, “Let the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of His suffering.” The truth is that Jesus is worthy of every soul in New Zealand and it is an injustice that not every person puts their hope in Him. I wonder what would happen if every church in New Zealand or in America would commit to sharing the simple gospel with unbelievers once or twice a week. What kind of harvest would we see? I have seen many church-growth seminars advertised year after year but I believe the best church-growth strategy we can give ourselves to is preaching the gospel to the lost. It may be an inconvenience or even an interruption of someone’s evening, but let us remember that these people have their eternity at stake. The small potential inconvenience or annoyance is nothing compared to the joy of salvation in Jesus Christ.

I found out yesterday in fact that my grandfather of 8 generations was the first circuit rider to the Mississippi Territory in the 1700’s. I am a direct descendant of a circuit rider. It’s sort of interesting since on the first day of circuit riders the two young men who were teaching at the school immensely provoked me. I said to myself, “I want to do what they are doing. They are my age and look what they are doing for the kingdom.” I want to train and raise up leaders for the next generation all over the world. I believe that if the circuit riders had had access to airplanes they would have not been limited to ministry in America.

Anyway I’m off my soapbox now. I have just been really challenged these last two weeks and want to live my life differently. The Lord has really been speaking to me and teaching me about servant leadership. One of the sayings that came out of the Circuit Riders school was, “Make your bed and raise the dead.” I believe that in order to become a godly leader we must learn how to serve well (I’m on my soapbox again). If we look at the example of Jesus it will teach us much. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). I think the best way to learn leadership is to embrace the way of humility and go low. Instead of seeking to be the one to be given the microphone at Sunday morning service and be revered as the great prophetic voice of the century let’s pick up the scrub brush and the 409 with joy and if the Lord exalts us then fine. But let us not seek to be exalted. If we begin with a servant’s heart then we’ll end with a servant’s heart, and our identity will be found in who the Lord sees us as and not in how man sees us. At the end of the day, when we stand before the Lord, the question He is going to ask us will not be, “How big was your ministry and how many times did you preach to thousands?” The question will be, “Did you learn to love me well and did you put the first commandment first place in your life?”

Ok, I’m really off my soapbox this time. The Lord has just really been stirring me lately and I just had to get that all out. Well I guess that’s about it for now. Thank you again to everyone who has sown in financially to this season and to all who have committed to pray. Because of you 120 more people in New Zealand now have their names written in heaven and are known by God. If it hadn’t been for you the near 1,000 people who heard the gospel would not have heard. So again, thank you so much.

If you would like to sow into this season still it’s not too late. Send me an email at gabrielruss@ihopu.org and I will give you details on how to get finances to me.

Farewell to all for now! I will update everyone again soon.

 

From the ends of the earth,

Gabriel

 

I love this place

Hello again from the ends of the earth!

Well, so much has been happening and I have barely had a chance to update my blog lately. All I can say at the moment however is that I’m blessed to be alive to post this update. I learned a valuable lesson this past Friday. That lesson was to never go surfing in overhead waves alone. We had some free time Friday after prayer room and I decided to go surfing. It was a cloudy day so nobody wanted to go to the beach with me which was weird to me since as a Florida boy I always want to go to the beach! So I decided to paddle out alone. The waves were about 8-10 feet and it was way more than I was used to. I tried to duck dive under a wave that had already broken but didn’t get down far enough and it thrashed me around like a dog does a rag doll. This happened three times and I really thought I was going to drown. It is by the sheer mercy of God that I am alive today.

The Lord began speaking to me that night about my experience. I know that He has given me a voice in this generation and on Friday the enemy tried to shut my mouth. He, of course, was unsuccessful and I am even more emboldened now to speak the words of God. Thank you all for your prayers of protection, they really work. 

I had a chance to audition as a singer and musician at THOP about a week and a half ago and was approved to sing and play guitar. I led my first devotional set on Friday and it went super well. I’m really looking forward to playing and singing during this externship and improving musically. There is plenty of room here for us all to have a shot at getting on some teams and stretching our boundary lines a little bit. The Lord has been giving us all first hand experience of what it’s like to be the house of prayer. It’s a much different feeling being the ones who really keep the fire burning. The movement happening here in Tauranga really depends on us. If we don’t show up one morning the fire goes out. It’s a much different feeling than being in a huge environment of prayer where your presence isn’t really that noticed. 

There’s a group coming here tomorrow who will be here for 2 weeks who do a traveling evangelism school called Circuit Riders. They are committed to see revival reach the nations of the earth by training and equipping ones with willing hearts for world evangelization. I have heard of many people who have gone through this 2 week intensive who have come out changed and on fire for the gospel. So, needless to say, I’m pretty excited.

The Awaken Internship also starts tomorrow and we externs are joining the internship staff. We will be spending the remainder of our time here leading the interns. We will be living with them and pouring into them as much as we can. This will definitely be a wonderful season of growth for myself and the rest of the team.

It feels like our externship is finally getting started now. I’ll be posting more detailed updates as we get into our work here. Thank you again to everyone for keeping us in your prayers and sowing into this season financially. This would not be possible without you!

From the ends of the earth,

Gabriel

I Made It!

Hello all!

Greetings from the ends of the earth! The current time here in New Zealand is 8:27 AM, September 18, 2012. Today is the second official day of our externship. I arrived in Tauranga on Sunday at 7:30 PM Which would have been 1:30 am Sunday for all my Florida friends. Things are going relatively smoothly so far. Jet-lag isn’t so bad. Mornings feel like mornings, but the strange part is that early evening feels like 2:00 in the morning so I’m able to get to sleep without a problem. I’m sure I will be in the swing of things in the second week of my externship.

All of the people here at THOP have such a genuine love for Jesus. The first thing I noticed coming here is their faithfulness to stand in the place of prayer no matter what it takes. They have all been caught with the vision of biblical prayer and will do whatever they have to do to keep it going. Most of the people in the THOP community work jobs and only work enough for them to survive and the rest of their time is given to the house of prayer. They have such a hunger for God and faith to believe that He wants to visit their city. It’s a little different not having the prayer room open 24/7 and a little refreshing. Almost everyone comes to the prayer room for the 10am intercession sets and they are jealous for their time in the prayer room. They don’t take the prayer room for granted because it is only open in the morning for a short period of time. 

There seems to be a central theme that I have noticed in the prayer room here, and that theme is the worthiness of Jesus. That is what sustains them. They have been caught with the vision that the Man who sits on the throne is worthy of their time and effort. I saw this most when I went to the 6 AM prayer set yesterday morning. Nobody is required to go to the 6 am set and nobody leads worship. The set is run by a worship playlist playing random songs with revival as their theme. The set is attended mainly by those who are going into work at 8 am and have woken up early before a full day’s work just to spend time filling the bowls of heaven with their intercession. They have given up their energy to sit in a room and ask God to visit their community. The 6am set had a total of 16 people including their sound engineer, HOP director Aaron Walsh, and two of us externs. 

Aaron was the first person I heard pray on the microphone at THOP. He prayed from Malachi 1:11. The Lord reminded me of all the words He had spoken to our team concerning Malachi 1:11 and how He desires that His name would be lifted high from the place where the sun rises. Just to remind everyone, New Zealand is in the very first time zone. The sun rises here first every day. That is the vision of this externship: to lift the name of Jesus high in this place, from the rising of the sun.

After the prayer room the team and I went on a tour of Tauranga with a man named Steve Hanson. He took us to Mount Maunganui and we walked up. That was quite a workout! We walked up and had an amazing view of the city of Tauranga. When we made it to the top there was a rainbow that stretched all the way from the harbor to the ocean. I will post a picture below at the end of this blog.

I’m still just getting used to everything in New Zealand. There will be plenty of time for all that though being here for 3 months and all. I have been learning how to drive on the opposite side of the road which has been messing with me. It’s much different but still easier than I thought it would be. 

Thank you again for everyone who is praying for us and for all those who sowed in financially to make this externship possible. I will update everyone again later this week.Image

This is the team at the top of Mount Maunganui. That’s David Rich in the back, Allee Shepherd, me and Meghan Tuck in the middle, and Elisabeth Montague in the front.

Almost Time

Hey everyone! I wanted to just post a short blog to update you on what’s going on.

Well it’s down to the wire and the countdown is t-minus 6 days! It’s indeed crunch time as we all get prepared to make this next journey with the Lord. I have been in contact with the people at THOP and they are all ready and anxious for us to arrive. It’s sort of surreal still at this moment and my mind is not completely convinced that this is actually happening! 

Please pray for the team as we prepare to make this trip. Ask the Lord for quick minds for all of us. There is a lot of preparation to go through and it’s easy to forget things. Also pray for peace as we make this transition.

Thank you so much to everyone who sowed into this season financially and to all who have committed to pray! I will update you once I arrive in New Zealand!

 

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This is the team altogether (minus the older couple on the couch, they are the parents of the director of the house of prayer in Tauranga). 

In the back from left to right: Gabriel Russ (me), Meghan Tuck, David Rich

Front from left to right: Allee Shephard, Elisabeth Montague