International House of Prayer Kansas City to Shutter in Wake of Mike Bickle Scandal

The International House of Prayer Kansas City has refuted reports that the 24/7 prayer ministry plans to close entirely, saying it’s going through a restructuring phase and will close its school of ministry, IHOP University, after this year’s graduation. Citing a leaked recording from leaders at an internal IHOP University staff meeting as well as an email from IHOP University President Matt Candler, the leaders revealed that the ministry was losing some $500,000 per month due to donors being too connected to Bickle, the Roys Report said. “IHOPKC as an organization is beginning to wind down … ” Candler said during the meeting. “We’re going to be maintaining our prayer room and eventually beginning a new organization.” The 24/7 prayer ministry did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation but Isaac Bennett, who leads IHOPKC’s Forerunner Church, noted that lawsuits from the victims in Bickle’s sexual abuse scandal presented the ministry with “significant liabilities. “We’re the people to sue at the end of the day,” he said. “That produces significant liabilities.”

Boz Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson, an attorney and longtime advocate of sexual abuse survivors who is representing one of Bickle’s alleged victims, said if IHOPKC leaders believe the ministry can just shutter then re-emerge as a rebranded organization to escape liability, they are living in “fantasyland.” “The notion that they can just shut it down and start a new organization and all of that prior potential liability is wiped away is fantasyland,” he told the news outlet. “To suddenly take all the property, put it in the name of a new organization to limit liability that would I believe be called a fraudulent transfer. A court would not allow that.” In February, after a third woman alleged she was groomed and sexually abused by Bickle in the 1980s when she was 14, Tchividjian, said the ministry should close permanently. “It’s time. It’s time to permanently close the doors at IHOPKC,” Tchividjian said in a statement via the X account of his law firm, Boz Law P.A.

“It’s time to take whatever monies are left & put them into a fund for those whose lives have been wrecked by a place that claims to love Jesus so much it prays to him 24/7. The praying hasn’t worked. It’s just made IHOPKC more pious in defending the indefensible. It’s time.” Using her maiden name, the third woman, Tammy Woods, who is now a 57-year-old mother and grandmother, told The Kansas City Star that Bickle abused her in St. Louis where he pastored a church before moving to Kansas City and starting IHOPKC in 1999. Woods said Bickle abused her in his car, at her home, in the church and his office. She said the abuse, which began when she started babysitting his two sons, involved sexual contact but not intercourse. She revealed that the IHOPKC founder also told her several times that his wife, Diane, would die young and suggested that she could be the mother to his sons. “He would kiss my neck, my cheeks, and my forehead,” Woods said, recalling the first time Bickle kissed her like a lover at her house when she was still just 14. “The first, like, ‘kiss’ kiss was in my house. He kind of pulled me into my bathroom. And he kissed me like a man kisses a woman.”

Woods’ revelation came in the wake of an independent report released to the public on Jan. 31 and prepared by attorney Rosalee McNamara, where Bickle confessed to engaging in “consensual sexual contact” with a woman connected to the 24/7 prayer ministry in addition to a previously confessed relationship with a primary Jane Doe who alleged she was his kept woman for several years. While Bickle never touched the second Jane Doe in McNamara’s report, Woods said he did touch her. “He did touch me,” she recalled. “He moved my hand to touch him sexually. And he did touch me in return.” Woods explained that Bickle would be remorseful each time he abused her. “I have witnessed him genuinely weep and repent, like ask the Lord’s forgiveness, ask my forgiveness,” she said. “I saw at 14, a man in anguish over failure, and he would always be like, ‘I can’t, we can’t do this again. And please forgive me.’ I believed all of that to be genuine … but it didn’t stop. We’d do good for a while and then crash.”

A day after the Star’s story was published, IHOPKC condemned Bickle’s actions as “sick” and apologized for the way they handled the investigation into allegations of abuse against him, which have long been criticized by Tchividjian and a group of former leaders at IHOPKC known as the advocate group. Bennett explained in the leaked recording that while IHOPKC has been looking at different ways to navigate the sexual abuse scandal, they have found no way around the liability the organization has been exposed to as a result of the allegations of the ministry’s mishandling of the abuse allegations. “In cases where there’s clergy abuse, where there’s allegations that are outstanding — when there’s now interest in having an investigation that goes back through all of our 24-year history to find cases where there’s been mishandling of abuse, or where there’s been cover-up, or whatever else it is people believe has been gone on — those things will produce inevitably a contingent of individuals who are wanting to get restitution,” Bennett said. “But they’re not going to knock on Mike’s door because he doesn’t have any money. But IHOPKC has facilities.”

To keep IHOPKC at its current operational level, IHOPKC would have to let go 90% of its paid staff, Bennett said. So, instead of 500 staff, IHOPKC would have to run the organization with just 50, Bennett said. “We are at an impasse,” Bennett said. “There’s no other way forward. So, the Lord is kindly inviting us into a new era.”

Source: Christian Post

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