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Beneath fluorescent lights at the International House of Prayer in Grandview, three men strum guitars, accompanied by a pianist and two female vocalists. A painting of Christ nailed to the cross hangs above a communion table draped in burgundy cloth.
Thirty people are scattered around the room, some seated in folding chairs, others standing with raised arms and closed eyes. A woman sleeps curled beneath a quilt on the floor, lulled by a soothing love song to the Lord.
Jesus, I'm in love with you.
Jesus, I'm in love with you.
A young man in shorts and sandals paces an aisle with his Bible. He speaks in tongues. He falls to his knees.
"We long for you, Jesus!" he shouts into a microphone a minute later, accompanied by music. "We pray for revival in Kansas City!
"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure the lepers!" the man cries out.
Prayer requests cover a white dry-erase board on the wall: Prayers for peace between the United States and Iraq. Finances for the sound system. Relief for refugees of war. Requests to heal IHOP staffers who suffer from migraine headaches. Prayers for the sick. Prayers that cashiers and a manager at a nearby Price Chopper might find salvation.
Outside in Terrace Lake Gardens, a subdivision off Red Bridge Road, a mile from IHOP, fliers with the slogan "Trying to Show God's Love in a Practical Way!" flutter from doorknobs. They are from IHOP's outreach team, which will send IHOP crews to rake leaves, clean gutters and spread mulch, all free of charge.
Back at IHOP, the Harp & Bowl News, the ministry's newsletter, announces the formation of fasting teams and a Saturday night service with a Preparation for the End-Times theme. There is a training seminar for IHOP's new "healing rooms."
The newsletter announces Pray, Walk & Talk, Saturday morning outings by IHOP staff and students through the "harvest field" of Terrace Lake Gardens. It has been determined that "most of the TLG residents are not living for God."
In the past year, hundreds of people, most between the ages of 18 and 25, have converged on neighborhoods off Red Bridge and Grandview roads.
They work as unpaid interns or staffers at IHOP's Grandview Road headquarters or attend IHOP's Forerunner School of Prayer, which offers courses in the Bible, contemplative prayer, evangelism and prophetic ministry. Young adults and teen-agers come to participate in "Fire in the Night," twelve weeks of intensive prayer from midnight to six a.m., six nights a week.
Many live at the former Red Bridge Apartments, a complex purchased by Friends of the Bridegroom in April and renamed Herrnhüt, after a town in Germany where a church's congregation prayed nonstop for 100 years in the eighteenth century.
In June 2001, Friends of the Bridegroom bought Terrace Lake Shopping Center on Red Bridge Road and opened the Higher Grounds Coffee Shop and Forerunner Bookstore. The ministry plans to convert the empty space that was once a Thriftway into a new prayer room and offices for IHOP to replace the Grandview Road headquarters.
The interns and students are ideal evangelists for IHOP. They're still young and compliant enough to follow IHOP's no-dating rule for Fire in the Night and the six-month internships. Most don't mind crowding into a two-bedroom apartment with six or seven people.
Full-time IHOP staff members receive no salary but pay $500 each and commit fifty hours a week to administrative work, the prayer room or classes. Six-month interns have a similar schedule and pay $1,400 tuition or $4,400 for tuition, room and board.