Gabriel Russ, a former intern at IHOP KC, described his experience with the IHOP KC Student Awakening in a lengthy but touching blog article he wrote called “Looking Back at the IHOPU Student Awakening“. This article is both compelling and touching, and it is my hope that even as you read it, you will be reminded of the kindness, grace, and love of our Heavenly Father who desires to heal, change, and restore our hearts. The entire article, found originally at his website (see the link above) is posted below:
“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. Wes Hall who was a lawyer from England and was normally very reserved was on this day described as “walking like a chicken” 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.” 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,  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.”
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.”
 I have heard Wes describe himself in this way many times
 The New King James Version. 1982 (Is 62:2–4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Wes Hall quoted on March 9, 2013