One of the challenges, frustrations and joys of a charities, hope and faith journey is that we know the destination, but how to get there, how long it will take, who will accompany us, where will the resources come from and a thousand other questions are a constant companion. We so admire Abraham who in obedience to God’s call, we are told in Hebrews, “Set out not knowing where he was going.”
Our WPC journey is still ongoing. What follows is a record of some of our journey.
In 1992 the journey of the World Prayer Centre began. Over three days in a tent in France, God through His word began to impress on me what I can only describe as a vision, to see established in the heart of the nation a Christian centre that both in its design and purpose enabled people to pray, act, learn and share something of God’s Kingdom at a local, national and global level.
My immediate challenge was how to respond! Yet here in God’s word and later quoted by Jesus, God was saying, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations.” So I started to write and then interestingly for me, began to draw what I was seeing. As I wrote, four as it were, foundation stones came into view, Prayer, Mission, Family and the Marginalised.
A globe was the first thing I drew with the cross at the centre, with the strong belief that God created the world, that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it and that He loves the world and its inhabitants; the message of the cross was as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago. Around the globe I could see places and spaces for prayer for nations and continents; a place for prayer/mission training, a place for families from the nations, to pray and play and learn together. I could see people staying for a few hours or a few days, a hub receiving and releasing information and prayer needs around the world. I could see a place that in its purpose and structure demonstrated God’s Kingdom, a house of prayer for all nations.
Although I lived in Birmingham UK as an adopted Brummie, I sensed that the Centre was to be at the heart of the nation and the phrase kept coming, ‘A stake in the ground at the heart of the nation for the Kingdom of God.’
Eventually the ‘holiday’ came to an end and we travelled home with pages of soggy writings and drawings with the big question, “If God has spoken what do I do with what He has shown me?”
All journeys have an element of the unknown, be it to the shop around the corner or to another part of the world. So it was and still is for us on our journey. Some fellow travellers thought we were going up a one way street the wrong way. One leader said, “We do not need a Christian Disney World in the nation.”
Some got excited and others pointed me to the minor prophet Habakkuk who was told by the Lord to, “Write down the revelation, make it plain, it awaits an appointed time, though it linger wait for it, it will certainly come and will not delay.”
Months rolled into years and nothing seemed to be moving. Then two remarkable things happened. My wife Pauline and I felt we should attend a conference in London at which Julie Anderson and Cindy Jacobs were speaking.
We arrived late and were sitting on the back row when suddenly this lady who turned out to be Cindy Jacobs, came and grabbed our arms, took us to the front and prophesied that the vision God had given us for a centre for prayer would in His time come about and she also described things that had been on my soggy papers that no one had ever seen!
Sometime later I was helping to lead a prayer conference at the Hayes Conference Centre Swanwick. Standing next to me on the platform was the Rev Bob Dunnett, a spiritual father to us and many others. To my shock and I have to say horror, he asked me to share the World Prayer Centre vision. After some slightly heated discussion, I gave in and shared the vision, not daring to mention the negative comments I had received over the years and especially the one concerning Disney World.
So I shared for a few minutes and the room fell silent. I stood feeling embarrassed until from the back of the hall a lady came forward and stood in front of me and said, “God has told me to come and tell you something, but it is very strange.” She continued, “God said, go and tell Ian, if man can build Disney World, I can build the World Prayer Centre.” I stood on that platform and in my heart I prayed, “Father I do not know what this means but help me to be obedient to what you are saying.” I share these examples simply to illustrate the importance of anointed prophetic gifting in any faith journey.
We began to pray for divine appointments and God sent to us some amazing people to help us clarify the vision and in 1997 World Prayer Centre became a registered charity and we started to do what all those who start charities do, work out how to raise funds, find land, put a business plan together, build teams and get the building built.
One of those appointments was with Jeremy Blake, an architect based in Cambridge. I went to see him in his office with my writings and drawings with some apprehension wondering what his response would be. He listened, asked some questions and said he would pray for two weeks and then come back to me. His response was that he felt God had told him to get involved and a few months later he produced some brilliant plans and drawings which he had interpreted from my soggy writings and drawings.
Throughout the years, prophetic words have been given by trusted friends on the journey with us and sometimes by people travelling past us on their journey. One of the most powerful was given by our late friend Paul Miller. “The World Prayer Centre ministry will grow but the building must be an Isaac,” in other words, God’s way, God’s timing, God’s place, God’s promise. The Abrahamic journey in Genesis and recounted in Hebrews, became and continues to be an integral part of our journey.
Building the Ministry of World Prayer Centre
Over the years we have found ourselves in the United Nations with teams praying through Global issues. We have travelled with others to be where the G8 leaders met to pray for God’s will to be done through them.
We have been to the North Korean border to pray for ‘One Korea’, we have had the honour and privilege of being involved in helping to lead major international prayer events in several countries and at the same time receiving encouragement for the vision God has given us. We have been humbled and broken as we have stood before thousands of believers from China as they have prayed for the church in the UK.
In 2003 we were invited to the launch of the International Prayer Council, a fellowship of national prayer leaders representing every Continent of the world. Several Global events have seen many thousands gathering together including the 2012 World Prayer assembly at which over nine thousand delegates representing eighty five nations gathered in Indonesia to launch a ‘New Wave’ of prayer that continues to break in many nations. Out of that we have helped and continue to help ‘Uprisings’ (Urgent Prayer Rising) at which young people have come together in countries like the Philippines, Bolivia, Mongolia, Korea, and across Europe to pray, worship and receive the call to mission. What a joy and privilege to belong to the family of God.
Wherever we go, we are meeting brothers and sisters from every tribe and language and people and nation and this our family is growing worldwide by thousands every day.
At the same time, God has led us as a team to encourage prayer across our family of nations. Once again, in at times amazing ways, God has spoken to us through His Word and through His servants the prophets. A number of years ago our Bible reading included some verses in the book of Numbers which said, “When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast of the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies.” (Numbers10:9 NIV)
The very next day the doorbell of the WPC office rang and two Indian ladies, completely unknown to us, had travelled from London to inform me that they had a message from the Lord for me. The message was that I was to blow a trumpet in the land and that it had to be a loud blast. Two days later at a leader’s prayer event in Birmingham, a leader stood behind me and putting his hand on my shoulder said, “Lord, give Ian the breath to blow a Trumpet in the land.”
Over the years, thousands have gathered in arenas in Birmingham as in obedience and faith to that call, we have blown the trumpet, worshipped God and prayed for His Sovereignty to be seen over the nation. Again I share that part of the journey to show how God in His patience and love can take His Word, take two unknown Indian ladies and a Christian leader to prophecy into our lives.
Hearing from God
In every year of the journey, we have continued to hold a conference at the Hayes Centre in Derbyshire; these are a continuation of the Pray for Revival conferences there in the 1980’s and 90’s. In recent years we have had our good friend Rev. Malcolm Duncan, minister of the Elim Church in Dundonald, Belfast as our guest speaker. Time and time again he has spoken prophetically not only into the life of WPC but through WPC into the life of the church in the nation.
During one of our days of prayer a colleague had a picture of some land. Amazingly we recognised what he was describing. As we constantly endeavour to journey on the Isaac principle, we simply prayed that if it was right the people who owned the land would contact us.
Several months later they phoned to say they had been walking on their land and we came into their thinking. The only Scripture they ever thought about with regard to the land was, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
In God’s timing, and subject to planning, the land is available. One of our many prayers is for patience and perseverance. To help at times, our struggling faith, God gave us over a period of time two prophetic words that are yet to be fulfilled. The first was that the World Prayer Centre would come at a moment of revival (spiritual awakening) in the nation and the second word was that it will come like lightning, it will come suddenly.
PO Box 17971, Birmingham
0121 633 7393