From Israel to America
In part one of this (very) mini-series I shared the story of how God led us to Israel to spend the first three months of our marriage living in community underneath a 24/7 House of Prayer (it was a lot better than it sounds). That particular chapter of the story ended with us arriving safe and sound (albeit very tired) in Israel, still not entirely sure why we were there or what came afterwards but grateful we weren't going to be homeless until January 2020 at the earliest. I remember telling various people out there about our plans, and all we could really say was something like this: "We think we're going to America after this - but we don't know where or what we'll be doing. But we think it'll be for three months." That was about the extent of what we knew.
It was amazing to think God had led us all the way out to Israel - but I was very aware He was going to have to do it all over again if our sense of going to America was correct. Specific details regarding the future remained more elusive than a chameleon with an invisibility cloak in a jungle at night, but it has to be said God was very gracious to us. Within a week of our arrival someone prophesied over us that we were to take six months away at that start of our marriage to lay the foundations. That was a welcome encouragement to both of us that we hadn't gone to Israel on a wild goose chase. God also demonstrated His great sense of humour one day in the Prayer Room, sending me to Genesis 17:21 after I'd tried another 'ask God for a passage and see what I get', where I read that this time next year I will have a son. I could almost hear God chuckling as I read it.
There came a weekend where things shifted in quite a remarkable way. I had, I freely confess, been starting to obsess a bit both in my thoughts and my prayers about what was next - a bit like a toddler on a long car journey, every two minutes demanding to know whether we're nearly there yet. God convicted me of this, to such an extent that in response I vowed not to ask Him anything more about America, but instead to trust that He would tell us, in His way and in His timing. The very next day we were at the evening meeting at Succat Hallel and a couple prayed over us. "Have you ever thought about going to IHOPKC (International House of Prayer Kansas City) and doing an internship there?" was one of the things they offered to us.
The timing of this couple's word was incredible. Straight after handing over to God all my worries about whether He'd lead us, He spoke to us. It was hugely encouraging, but not quite enough at this stage to convince us to go and book flights the next day. True to my word, I resisted the urge to ask God outright whether this was Him or not. I figured, if He's done it once, He can speak to us again. Instead, I compromised by going on the IHOPKC website to see whether any of their internships looked suitable. Intriguingly there was one that fitted the bill, an internship called 'Fire In The Night' - a three month program beginning in January for hardened ultra-prayer mega-warriors for whom praying in the day isn't challenging enough and who instead want to pray in the night because they're so awesome and will one day rise to the rank of SUPREME NINJA JEDI INTERCESSOR. (Mike Bickle would probably challenge me on that particular description of Fire In The Night, but until he does I'm sticking with it).
Fire In The Night (FITN) was now on our radar but I was still trusting that God would make it very clear without me having to worry about it. True to God's word, that's exactly what He did. That same week, at a different House of Prayer in Jerusalem I met a man who, of course, not only works at IHOPKC but does the nightwatch. The following week our group were at a bus stop and out of the blue Melissa and I were introduced to the woman who had pioneered the nightwatch at Succat Hallel. We were starting to sense that God was maybe, possibly, trying to tell us something.
On the 6th November, only two months before FITN began, we received from God the final confirmation we needed to begin the application process. I was praying in the morning and for the first time felt a direct word from God that yes, He wanted us to go and we should start applying. That same day I got a text from a friend of ours, who'd felt led to advise us that if we were going to do FITN we ought to start applying now. Convinced beyond doubt that this was God's leading, we set about applying for the internship.
The application process, as our friend had warned, was indeed quite long. What was already a pretty complicated process was made even more complicated by the fact that the IHOPKC office would all be on holiday at the end of the month for thanksgiving. To stand any chance of being able to book an appointment at the US Embassy in London with enough time for our Visas to arrive before our flights, we would need to submit all our forms, including references, to IHOPKC before their thanksgiving holiday break.
We ended up with an agonising wait over one of the references, which finally came in on the last day the IHOPKC office was open before thanksgiving. The earliest Visa appointment available was the 23rd December, which given the Christmas holiday period meant our Visas arrived the day before we flew out to America (on flights we'd had to book long before we received our Visas). God's timings are great, but sometimes I wish He was one of those people that sets their clock 10 minutes fast so they do things a bit earlier than they strictly need to. Anyhow, God had done it again - as He said He would, He led us every step of the way, and I learned that God is, thankfully, far better at leading than I am at following.
This particular story ends with a lovely little post-credits scene that only a God as kind and as powerful as ours would include. We arrived at IHOPKC on 7th January 2020 and made our way to our flat, one of many in a huge housing complex owned by IHOPKC called 'Herrnhut Accomodation'. At the very beginning of this journey, back in 2019, as we had been asking God what to do after we got married, one of the first places we felt Him highlighting to us was Moravian Falls, a Christian retreat place in America. It never quite landed as a definite yes, and once we realised God wanted us to go to Israel we rather forgot about it. It was therefore a lovely surprise when we learned that Herrnhut Accomodation was named after the town in Germany in which the Moravian community lived, the same community Moravian Falls had been named after. It was a beautifully unnecessary gesture from a God who had led us safely from Brighton to Israel and now from Israel to America.