My IHOPKC Experience: Andy’s Story
by Andy Hailstone
As we approach 20 years of day-and-night prayer and worship at IHOPKC, I have found myself so thankful and grateful to be a part of this ministry and community. Because of a small company of people’s obedience and sacrifice to the Lord in the 1980s and 1990s, my life will never be the same!
I first heard of IHOPKC and the Global Prayer Room through my uncle and aunt Kirk and Dee Bennett and my cousins Isaac, Katie, and Abi, right in 1999 when it started. As a 12-year-old living in Maryland, I thought, “Wow, this seems like a strange alternative to church.” But something about it really intrigued me. A year later, Kirk handed me a CD made by a group of IHOPKC’s first interns called “I Am Before You.” I would sit in my room and sing the title track over and over, “I come before You, simply to adore You,” and even in my young age felt the pull to night-and-day worship. After that point, I would buy any CD IHOPKC released as well as any DVD of the worship sets from all the conferences. I would sit in my room, read my Bible, and memorize every antiphonal phrase and chorus sung. From that time forward, night-and-day worship has been the dream of my heart.
In 2009, after spending four years serving at a smaller house of prayer on the East Coast, I moved to IHOPKC as a 22-year-old. I’m writing this, and it feels like I’ve been here so much longer but so much shorter, all at the same time.
Aside from my main calling as an intercessory missionary, I have had the privilege of wearing many hats and doing many different things here. As I think of highlights, it is easier for me to break them down into categories.
10 Years of Helping Coordinate the Onething Conference
I attended Onething 2004 and never would have thought that five years later I would help coordinate it. Before moving to Kansas City, I would have dreams of helping run events like Onething. I’m so thankful that the Lord opened a door the week that I moved to Kansas City to join the conference team.
I think back with so much fondness of the amazing co-workers I had (a surprisingly small team pulls a very large event off), the worship teams I was able to serve as backstage manager, and every moment the Lord met me in the busyness of hosting 10,000-30,000 guests. There were a few years where I got to run the conference with some of my closest friends; we had a blast driving golf carts around backstage, drinking more coffee than we should have, and running around frantically as the plans for a specific session changed five minutes before we were supposed to go live.
The moments I remember the most from each Onething conference are the few minutes when I would come out each session from behind the backstage wall, stand in the side stage area, and hear the crowds singing to Jesus. It made every second of hard work and every long day worth it.
Some more specific highlights from various Onething (in no particular order):
- Onething 2009, the year of the IHOPU Student Awakening, we bought basically a truckload of bath towels to accommodate all of the baptisms that were happening.
- Seeing our worship leaders and worship teams lead thousands of people in the same way they would lead a prayer meeting of thirty.
- Hosting the various guest worship leaders over the last few years. I remember Audrey Assad singing the first sentence of her song “I Shall Not Want”; myself and the leaders I was standing with all immediately burst into tears.
- Losing my voice one year trying to organize end-of-the-night shuttle lines.
- Standing on stage as the auditorium opened to watch the crowds of people rush to get the best seats.
- Our “secret mission” in 2012: Standing in the cold downtown at the Sprint Center handing out Onething tickets at a Justin Bieber concert.
The Prayer Room
I sometimes forget until I’m reminded by the excitement of a visitor or new intern or student how amazing it is that there is a room that is open 24/7 with live prayer and worship that anyone can come to day or night. For 20 years the fire on the altar has not gone out—through ice storms, fire alarms, tornado warnings, power outages, etc., Jesus has been worshiped. There truly is no place like the Global Prayer Room.
I’ve spent most of my years in the evening section of the prayer room (praying from 6pm–midnight). I’m a little biased, but I think it is the best section! We’ve seen God answer specific prayers as we pray with YWAM for their outreach initiatives, pray with Exodus Cry for the ending of human trafficking, and pray for the lives of our interns and students to be touched. The Lord meets the mostly-weak and mostly-boring prayers of the saints with His power. Standing in that room with my friends and partnering with the heart of the Lord for specific issues is one of my greatest joys and honors.
Along with praying in the prayer room, I’ve sung on four different teams in the evenings. There is so much I could say about each worship leader I’ve served with and each team member I’ve ministered with that it would probably take another two to three blog posts. So I’ll sum it up with this: It is rigorous to lead six two-hour worship sets every week. It is hard to reach to be creative and reach to stay connected to the Lord when sometimes what you do feels mundane, but I’ve seen every singer and musician push through that and fight to love and honor the Lord with their voice/instrument. I have served with some of the most faithful people that don’t give up in the midst of boredom or hardship. There are sets where the presence of the Lord shows up and the entire team weeps; there are sets where it feels like we’re soaring as a chorus is sung over and over; and then there are sets that feel hard, but the next day we show up again because Jesus is worthy of it.
I’ve had many, many high points as I’ve served at IHOPKC, but last summer I found myself in a pretty low place. Giving your life to serve Jesus as a 20-year-old is kind of cool, doesn’t turn too many heads, and people may think, “Oh, they’ll get over this phase.” When I entered my 30s I began to feel a wrestle on the inside—many of the friends I had spent years with in the prayer room were moving on to different seasons of life. I found myself questioning, “Did I make a mistake? Did I say yes to this somewhat odd calling when I was 18 and am just stuck here because I hate change?” I began to question everything (which isn’t an altogether bad thing) and started to internally shut down and resist things I knew the Lord had called me to (which is a bad thing). I kept telling the Lord, “This is too hard, I am done.”
In the midst of this low place, I found myself tasked with being the backstage manager at a conference IHOPKC was hosting for 1000 Chinese leaders, called Convergence. I didn’t know much about the conference and came into it with a work mindset, just wanting to do my job and do it well. The Lord had other plans (He usually does). On the second night of the conference I found myself head down on the desk backstage, weeping. As I wept, I felt years of pain and hardship being washed away. The Lord met me in my lowest moment, when I felt most disqualified, and called me a son.
The weeks after Convergence the Lord was doing the same with many IHOPKC staff members. Meetings were turning into times of prayer and prophecy over each other. More than just a ministry, the Lord was calling us to be family. I found myself full of confidence in my calling, full of confidence that I wasn’t an orphan, that I was a son, and full of hope in the Lord for the future. The Convergence and the months following it up to Onething 2018 were some of the most marking moments of my life so far.
Looking ahead I have so much hope for IHOPKC and the prayer movement all over the earth. The Lord is breathing life on things that we thought were dead. Last year I looked at my life and the prayer movement as a pile of dead, dry bones—what was the point of continuing? The Lord spoke to me one night from Ezekiel 37 saying, “Son of man, these bones will live!” Since that moment I’ve seen it happening! Keep going, don’t give up!
IHOPKC has changed my life for the better, and I’ve watched it change the life of many Awakening Teen Camps teenagers, IHOPU students, and One Thing interns. I have confidence in my place as an intercessor and singer. I am daily provoked by the lives of those around me; when I want to give up, I can go to the prayer room and see friends and leaders still reaching for the Lord. I will never be the same.
How has IHOPKC impacted your life?
Born and raised in Maryland, Andy has been an intercessory missionary since 2005. He wears many hats around the IHOPKC Missions Base, including singing on a worship team, serving as the senior administrator for the One Thing Internship, and helping with the administration of the Global Prayer Room.