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International House of Prayer Announces Independent Investigation, But Victims & Advocates Remain Wary

By Rebecca Hopkins
IHOPKC bickle report
Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photos: IHOPKC / Courtesy image)

Facing allegations that its founder, Mike Bickle, sexually abused multiple women, the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Mo. (IHOPKC), announced Sunday it has hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation.

Speaking from stage at IHOPKC’s Forerunner Church, Stuart Greaves, executive director of IHOPKC, said the ministry acted within 24 hours of “official notice” of the allegations to meet with Bickle to remove him from leadership. Then, IHOPKC hired Stinson LLP, a major law firm in Kansas City, to conduct an independent investigation, Greaves added.

He did not give details about the investigation but stated, “When this examination is completed, and based upon the findings, we will be able to determine what next steps should be taken towards healing.”

Michael Brown, an apologist who preached at IHOPKC’s Forerunner Church on Sunday, said IHOPKC had committed to publishing “the findings” of the investigation and urged people to trust the process.

“This is not being done for damage control,” Brown said. “This is being done to bring the truth to light. . . . It is not being done to protect the team here from lawsuits. The whole goal is to have a serious law firm investigate truth because there are very serious allegations that have been made.”  

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michael brown IHOP bickle
On October 5, 2023, Michael Brown preaches at Forerunner Church in Grandview, Mo. (Video screengrab)

But Brown also appealed to those listening not to talk about the ongoing scandal. “You may have an opinion right now,” Brown said. “Keep it to yourself. It does no good. . . . There is a process in place.”

Brown also encouraged people to delete prior social media posts, saying he believed IHOPKC leaders were “sincere” and “care about the women.”

“So, let’s work together, rather than against each other,” Brown added.

Brown’s comments sparked pushback on social media.

Former spokesperson-turned-whistleblower for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), Ruth Malhotra, tweeted, “. . . (Y)our appeal to refrain from posting online can have a chilling effect on survivors+advocates. While attacks & speculation are unhelpful, earnest questions & concerns should be welcomed—not stifled—in this moment.”

Similarly, former RZIM director, Carson Weitnauer, posted, “I agree with Ruth. Attempting to manage the narrative will understandably backfire. . . .”

Brown contended, “There is no attempt to ‘manage the narrative.’ There IS passionate appeal for all kinds of gossip, speculation, and accusations to stop . . .”

Yet, two former IHOPKC prayer room pastors, Jim and Nancy Hester, told The Roys Report (TRR) they don’t trust IHOPKC leaders to properly handle reports of abuse, based on their past experience.

The Hesters said a woman came to them in 2016 to tell them Greaves had mishandled her 2014 report of rape by a former IHOPKC staff member. Rather than help the woman, Greaves shamed her and urged her not to go to police, the woman told TRR. Nancy Hester said she tried to help her get an apology from Greaves, but he refused.

Recently, Nancy Hester went public with her concerns about IHOPKC on the podcast Heaven Bent (season 4, episode 6). Since then, Nancy said she’s received “conservatively 40 to 50” text messages from men and women, claiming IHOPKC mishandled their emotional and sexual abuse.

Hester said she hasn’t had a chance to talk to all of them. But both Jim and Nancy Hester say they’ve heard enough that they’ve lost confidence in IHOPKC’s executive leaders’ ability to handle cases of abuse and are calling for them to resign.

“What I’ve found is that what is proclaimed from the stage was not implemented in the day-to-day practical expression of Christianity,” said Jim Hester.  “My desire is to see the (executive leadership team) completely disbanded.”

Greaves did not immediately respond to TRR’s request for comment.

Public Pushback

Many of those questioning the investigation focused on the investigation process and firm IHOPKC selected.

Writer and abuse survivor advocate, Nancy French, asked Brown if victims “have to go through the church” to connect with Stinson LLP and suggested the firm advertise a hotline for victims to report.

Brown objected to the suggestion, saying, “You’d end up with every kind of wacky accuser, including disgruntled former church members.” But he assured French that accusations would be “treated with the utmost seriousness.”

French replied, “‘Wacky’ accusers is the wrong posture. Victims will read this exchange, see your skepticism/incredulity & stay silent.”

Brown further clarified to TRR that the church and law firm won’t be publicizing a hotline or contact information because “no one is claiming that there’s scores and scores of people involved.” But the law firm will contact victims who already have come forward, Brown said, and then the victims can then pass that contact information on to others. 

Samuel Hood, a long-time former IHOPKC member, posted several questions about the investigation on Facebook. “Is the third party an ‘independent investigation organization that specializes in allegations of abuse in a Christian environment?’ . . . Has IHOPKC dialogued with the survivors and received their approval on this third party investigation?”

Dianne Couts, abuse advocate and president of MK Safety Net, told TRR that a third-party investigation should be transparent, should name or adequately describe the accused in the findings, and should make the findings public. She added that not all law firms have reputations for truly caring for victims, so it’s important for churches and organizations to consult victims when choosing a firm. She said this is especially true when they’ve already lost trust in the church or Christian organization.

“The firm that is hired should be a group that the survivors trust,” she said. “So, often, it’s not survivor-centered, it’s institution-centered.”

Questions Raised about Victims

Stuart Greaves claimed during Sunday’s service that some of the women who were named as victims of Bickle’s abuse have denied that they were victims. He added that some also “denounced the representatives of the alleged victim group for using their names without permission.”

Last week, two IHOPKC women posted on social media that they aren’t victims of Bickle. One of them is singer/songwriter Misty Edwards, an IHOPKC worship leader.

“I am not commenting on the women’s allegations concerning Mike Bickle,” Edwards wrote on Facebook. “However, I am not one of them. I have worked for Mike for 25 years and in my personal experience he has only been godly.”

Similarly, April Rose wrote on Facebook that she also is not a Bickle victim but considers him “one of the purest if not the purest man I’ve ever gotten to know.” She didn’t say how she’s connected to IHOPKC, but wrote her kids grew up with Bickle as a “benevolent father of the House.” She said someone from “this group” recently contacted her, and based on “something that was said secondhand” about her, assumed she was a victim. Instead, she alleged that IHOPKC founder Dwayne Roberts and the other two men who made the allegations against Bickle last week had victimized her.

“They have used my name without my permission, or knowledge to attack what I know to be a good man . . .” she wrote. “These men should be stripped of their titles and may God raise up shepherds after His own heart to replace them!”

Roberts, a former IHOPKC executive leadership team (ELT) leader, didn’t return a call from TRR asking for comment. Wes Martin, a former IHOPKC board member and one of the other men who made the allegations, responded with no comment. TRR was unable to reach Brian Kim, the third signer of the allegations and a former ELT leader. 

Greaves said one allegation from 26 years ago “has some credibility.” But he added, “There are some allegations that have been more difficult to ascertain due to the fact that they are anonymous or represented by third parties.”

Yet Hester said IHOPKC leaders have previously gaslit other victims of other leaders, or pushed them out, and some were even suicidal because of how IHOPKC has treated them.

“There are certain ways that you treat victims, and so far, for the last two weeks, I don’t think we’ve seen them showing an inkling that they have any idea how to treat a victim,” Hester said.

Allegations of past mishandling of sexual abuse cases surface

A woman who asked to be anonymous told TRR that IHOPKC mishandled her report of being raped by an IHOPKC staff member in 2014 but has refused to acknowledge it. TRR does not report the names of victims of sexual assault unless they asked to be named. However, we confirmed the woman’s identity with Nancy Hester.

The woman said she reported her rape to Greaves, who subjected her to numerous meetings, at which he and other leaders questioned her account and didn’t provide her care.  One time, Greaves used her phone to call her mother to say that she was making up this story, the woman said. Greaves also pressured her not to report the matter to police, saying it wasn’t rape, she said. She added that Greaves claimed the police wouldn’t believe her and involving police would only result in bad press for IHOPKC.

Once, Greaves invited her to a meeting that her abuser also attended so that the woman could hear his side of the story, she claimed.

“I had to sit there through the entire thing and anytime I tried to say anything, they’d silence me, and they’re like, ‘You need to listen. You need to show respect. You need to hear his side of the story,’” she told TRR. “He told the story of me seducing him and pressuring him . . . And every time I was crying throughout it, they would be like, ‘Why are you crying? You’re being so overly emotional right now.’”

Stuart Greaves Forerunner Church IHOPKC
IHOPKC Executive Director Stuart Greaves addresses the congregation at Forerunner Church on Oct. 29, 2023. (Source: Video screengrab)

After months of traumatizing meetings, she asked what she could do to make the meetings stop.

“It was absolutely more painful than the original incident itself,” she said. “I couldn’t take it anymore. I was like, ‘I will do anything you want, just please don’t make me talk about this anymore.’ They said they can make it stop if I retract it . . . They said, ‘We’re going to bring him in and make you apologize to him now.’”

She relented. But in 2016, this woman connected with Nancy Hester, who tried to bring the matter to other IHOPKC leaders. IHOPKC leader Allen Hood listened and cared well for her, both Hester and the woman told TRR.

Soon afterwards, Greaves came to Jim Hester to get his help discipling a different man accused of sexual misconduct, Hester said. Hester said Greaves told him that the woman had called police after the alleged assault, but Greaves convinced the woman not to press charges.

Hester added that Greaves arranged for IHOPKC to double the man’s stipend. “They felt like he needed some stability and some encouragement to be in the prayer room,” Hester said.

Hester said when he challenged Greaves on the arrangement, Greaves said, “Have you ever had an impure thought?”

Hester said he replied, “Are you telling me that you equate an impure thought and rape as the same thing?” Hester said Greaves responded, “Sin is sin.”

The Hesters said Greaves then pushed them out of the ministry.

Tiffany, another woman who asked to be identified by only her first name, said she tried to report sexual misconduct by her IHOPKC leader. Former IHOPKC staffer Anna Daley verified Tiffany’s identity with TRR.

Tiffany claimed the leader tried to initiate a sexual encounter with her when she was 19 years old and tried to remove her clothes. She said she pushed him off her and told him to leave. Then she discovered the leader was simultaneously dating another student. Tiffany said she told a friend about the leader’s behavior, who set up a meeting for her with Greaves.

“I remember (Greaves) responded in a way that made me feel that I had done something wrong,” Tiffany said.

Greaves removed the leader, Tiffany said. But she added that Greaves also “grilled” her with more questions about her account, disregarding the power differential between a student and a leader.

“He proceeded to tell me that if I wouldn’t have been so open to the pursuit of this man, then his natural instincts wouldn’t have taken over and I wouldn’t have been in the position in the relationship I was with him,” Tiffany said. “And then I needed to deal with my ‘inner harlot.’”

Greaves told her she needed to attend Living Waters, an IHOPKC healing ministry led by Mike Bickle’s sister, Tracey Bickle, largely focused on healing of sexual sin, Tiffany said. 

“I just was told this was going to help me with my sexual sin,” Tiffany said. “This was going to help me get better. It did the opposite.”

Tracey Bickle did not immediately respond to TRR’s request for comment.

Tiffany said she came out of the program feeling more ashamed, and more trapped in a cycle of trying harder to meet approval.

“It’s this never-ending cycle of trying to perform to a standard that takes away your worth and your value because you don’t actually matter,” Tiffany said.

Leaders of IHOPKC Address Allegations Against Mike Bickle – Nov. 6, 2023

Rebecca Hopkins is a journalist based in Colorado.

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15 Responses

  1. The Dr Brown who sees nothing wrong with Kenneth Copeland,Bill Johnson and Benny Hinn and calls all sorts of heretical blasphemous people ok THAT Dr Brown!!!!!!

    1. I don’t know where you get the idea that Dr. Brown sees nothing wrong with those men. He has offered plenty of criticism of charismatic ministers over the years. The fact that he doesn’t condemn them doesn’t mean that he agrees with everything they say and do.

  2. The careful TTR journalistic documenting of emerging events and narratives at IHOPKC, has significant importance and value. All the elements that TTR has long reported on, are present; but with better public domain viewing of them than has often been the case in the reported on past.
    That Dr Michael Brown is then something of an advocate for IHOPKC as is and as has been, adds something to that public domain viewing, as he is something of a known quantity theologically and culturally and ideologically. Known on the basis of his many published opinion pieces. Personally I find him unconvincing, but he does prove difficult to cleanly rebutt: I can see that what he is saying is misleading; but it’s such a job of work to articulate just why. So he is skilled in what he does.
    This latest phase of events and their being reported on, leaves me disappointed in the current IHOPKC leadership. Their initial statements seemed promising, but their subsequent offered narrative reported in this article, does seem to lean strongly into institution protection rather than victim care.

    1. “I can see that what he is saying is misleading; but it’s such a job of work to articulate just why. So he is skilled in what he does.”

      Use full scripture responses, stick to what Jesus says in MMLJ, pray for God to guide your responses, do not get sidetracked/or emotional if they deflect from the main topic. Stay with the truth, if they are being false it will be exposed. Or you will be attacked personally and they will leave without giving an honest defense. Getting out “talked” isn’t a loss when the truth is revealed, whether people choose to see it or not, is up for them to decide.

      1. “Use full scripture responses, stick to what Jesus says in MMLJ, pray for God to guide your responses …”. [Thomas].

        That is good advice Thomas. Albeit something out of reach for me.

        I had cause yesterday to remind myself about the spiritual perspectives of hermetics of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine of Hippo. Nothing too deep, just enough to get a sense of their aspiration, and their respective contexts of striving. That reminding me of the complex network of Christians who have done or striven for, what this pair did and strove for in their respective time and circumstance; this network spanning two Millennia. Ultimately, for me, what that network of persons and the Bible speak to, remains an edifying mystery; sense of which mystery is enough for me spiritually.

        What I do have, for my sins you might say, are the resources and tools of a social science education and working background. I’m not qualified to critique Michael across the Biblical and Christian hermetic, but I am somewhat capable of recognising where a person’s meaning making (especially about others the speaker wishes to place beyond the pale) is ungrounded, manipulative, and misleading. It seems to me that Michael is primarily skilled in what the Romans called rhetoric; albeit his rhetoric works and takes specific effect within a Christian frame of reference.

  3. Too much smoke, too many accounts of mishandled abuse. The leadership team at IHOP-KC is in way over its head.

    The fact they chose a law firm to “investigate” is troubling when you realize the firm’s fiduciary duty is to the client, not to possible victims.

    The words from the pulpit on Sunday to stay off social media?? (Curiously, they don’t seem to have a problem using social media when it serves their objectives.) Warnings about “gossip.” Don’t call or involve the police?? All tried and true tactics of abusive organizations.

    Yesterday, I read the tweets between Dr. Brown and others mentioned in the above article. Why do pastors believe they are experts in everything? His comments reveal he is clueless in abuse/power dynamic situation. He wants to discuss this privately. He want us to take his word the leadership team is doing everything right. He claims having a hotline number to report abuse will bring out “wacky accuser[s]”.

    After all the various scandals, ie Ravi Zacharias, Bill Hybels, etc., we have no reason to put any faith into fallible men and the organizations they have birthed.

    Let it all come into the light.

  4. Julie and TRR, thank you for continuing to report on all the things done in the darkness. It is high time that the light expose every single evil deed. IMHO, we should be praying for DISCERNMENT and WISDOM that can only come from the Holy Spirit, for the body of Christ. So many Christ followers lack discernment. Many don’t even know what it is which is troubling in itself.

  5. let me understand this. If I abuse my position as a pastor, I am allowed all the time to be healed and recover and forgiven. BUT if I am the victim or in the congregation and ask questions its gossip which is a sin. Got it. Hey American evangelicals, ya just keep getting funnier by the year. and that sad. MATT 7:21-23

  6. Great reporting, Rebecca. Thank you. Thanks also to TRR for this exclusive, timely, very important report.

    It’s happening! The dam is bursting!

    Thank you, ladies, for stepping forward to share your story. It is very difficult and your courage is respected. Your voice will stop others from being abused.

    Stuart Greaves is a sociopathic. How can anyone be so cold? He is stone cold! His character was first exposed about a decade ago by Blaise Foret, who also was interrogated for hours. The way he treats people is unconscionable, not only for a Christian leader, but a human being.

    Now we can see the culture at IHOP. The truth is coming out. It is not just Mike Bickle. May God have mercy on their souls!

  7. When you listen to the podcast Heaven BENT definitely you can conclude the current leadership is not fit for handling that especially Stuart Greaves.

  8. What a horror story!! I pray all these victims who were again victimized by these processes described above feel the nearness of Christ at every turn.

  9. Like with many organizations, I believe that IHOPKC has become their god or idol. Protect IHPKC at any cost is an enormous red flag. Where on earth do you see the audacity of an accused person or organization to hire a law firm to investigate accusations against themselves or their leader? The Bible says go to your brother. Never does it end by bringing in the world. Bring more brethren and in the end if there’s not confession and repentance then they are to be treated as a non believer. Did you notice the comments on you tube for Dr Browns talk? Almost everyone swallowed it whole, with nothing from scripture to back it up. Just a blind loyalty. With every one of these sugary comments was an IHOP logo with a heart emoji as IHOP’s response. If anyone brought up anything contrary to this there was no response. So if you agree with everything that’s said and being done and the way it’s being done, then you get affirmation from IHOP leadership. If you don’t agree 100%, you are ignored….shunned…shamed? This is a total crock. These brothers of ours, although I love them and pray for them, are in my opinion, deluded.

  10. William Buckley once remarked that if you accuse the Jesuits of killing five men and a dog, they will trot out a live dog and call you a liar. Something similar in this case.

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