In the wake of additional allegations against its founder Mike Bickle, the International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC) cut off the livestream feed for the 24-7 prayer room that has defined its movement.
On Thursday night, the display read, “IHOPKC is entering a season of prayer and repentance.” The day before, the Kansas City Star ran a story on a woman who said Bickle abused her as a 14-year-old in the ’80s, when she was his family’s babysitter and he was a pastor in St. Louis.
IHOPKC released a statement condemning Bickle’s “predatory and abusive” actions, standing by his victims, and apologizing for its initial response of allowing him to defend himself when accusations surfaced last fall.
The ministry cut ties with Bickle in December, but that hasn’t stopped further revelations and concerns from emerging around IHOPKC and its leadership.
In a seven-page report released last week, the investigative firm hired by IHOPKC to look into the abuse allegations against Bickle concluded:
Based on all the credible evidence, including his own acknowledgements of contact with the two Jane Does over twenty years ago, it is more likely than not that [Bickle] engaged in inappropriate behavior including sexual contact and clergy misconduct, in an abuse of power for a person in a position of trust and leadership.
The two cases that Bickle acknowledges—one with “inappropriate behavior” including two instances of kissing and another he describes as a “consensual sexual contact that involved her touching me but not me touching her”—took place in 1999 and 2002–2003.
The report is not comprehensive; at least two of Bickle’s alleged victims did not participate over the terms of the investigation and are calling for a “truly independent third party” inquiry.
The report also didn’t include the latest account from the former babysitter, Tammy Woods, who just broke her 43-year silence to report the abuse to her family, her pastor, and the police.
Woods told the Kansas City Star that she met Bickle at church, and their relationship grew from friendly mentorship and spiritual encouragement to expressing feelings for one another. Wood’s childhood friend and younger sister also recounted that the pastor had a strangely close bond with her as a high school freshman.
Woods said that starting when she was 14 and Bickle was 25, they kissed in secret and progressed to fondling and sexual touch. She told the paper, “He moved my hand to touch him sexually. And he did touch me in return.”
Woods, now 57, recounted a detail other victims have also shared: Bickle told her he believed his wife would die and that they could be together.
According to Woods, Bickle would “anguish over failure” and apologize after crossing a line with her physically, and she promised to keep his secret to the grave when he moved from St. Louis to Kansas City in 1983.
They stayed in touch on and off over the years, seeing each other a couple times in ministry settings, she said. Woods, who lives in Michigan, texted with Bickle after the accusations came forward in October and as he made a statement in December. She said he told her, “I know you said this over the years that you’ve forgiven me, but I just want to say it again. Please forgive me. I was clueless. I could have gone to jail.”
Bickle has not responded publicly to Woods’s account.
The advocate group—former IHOPKC leaders who came to Bickle and his ministry with the allegations last fall—has stood by their concerns after a few women calling themselves “not ever Jane Does” spoke out against their inclusion in the initial group of allegations and said they were not victims of Bickle.
In one video from the advocate group, members Dean Briggs and John Chisholm explained that they resigned from IHOPKC leadership in September over another incident: the ministry’s mishandling of an alleged affair between Mike Bickle’s son and the wife of a IHOPKC staffer. They cited a 50-page testimony from the woman’s husband, which they said was submitted to top leaders.
Others have left amid the ongoing revelations around Bickle, including former IHOPKC executive director Stuart Greaves and former IHOP University president David Silker.
Eric Volz, the crisis communicator who was managing IHOPKC’s public response, concluded his work for the ministry last week. On Wednesday, he said he was not aware of Woods’s allegations “and neither was IHOPKC.”
Abuse attorney and advocate Boz Tchividjian, who is representing at least one of Bickle’s victims, has criticized the ministry’s response.
“IHOPKC leaders should write a book about steps toxic Christian communities can take to fail miserably in protecting those with less power while also marginalizing & vilifying others who bring darkness to light,” he wrote on Threads. “It all begins with a leadership that embraces arrogance & ignorance.”
The scandal has frustrated former IHOPKC members who say they experienced an unhealthy culture at the ministry and who are praying for greater transparency and accountability. In recent weeks, charismatic leaders who have been close to the movement have also spoken up to address the scandal.
Lou Engle, the founder of TheCall prayer ministry, had spent five years at IHOPKC and began Justice House of Prayer in DC. He released a statement on Tuesday saying he believes the advocates and “Jane Doe,” that he is praying for a full confession from Bickle, and wants to see a mutually agreed-upon independent investigation.
Calling for “extreme contrition,” Engle wrote that God has his eyes out “for toleration of moral laxity and of sexual immorality—especially clergy abuse in the church” and that leaders need to hear the cries of “many thousands of woman … who have been wounded by leaders in the body of Christ.”
Two weeks ago, self-described prophet Jeremiah Johnson shared a dream where he told Bickle he was being exposed and that the movement would shift from Kansas City to the nations. He called on his followers to pray for the situation at IHOPKC, for the future of the prayer movement, and for truth and repentance.
Evangelist Matt Brown, who was among the many who have tuned into IHOP’s prayer livestream, said that he was sickened by the claims against Bickle and his partial confession.
“I don’t have any idea how to explain how someone who was so dedicated to a prayer movement can secretly manipulate and abuse those under their ministry care. It’s absolutely wrong and evil,” said Brown, founder of the ministry Think Eternity.
“I have a feeling there will be many ‘orphans’ in the prayer movement. I pray for healing and comfort for those he abused, exposure of anything that was done, and mercy for many prayer people left confused and crushed as well.”