top of page

When Respected Leaders Fail - A Commentary on the IHOPKC Scandal Part 2


Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?

 

Jeremiah 8 verse 22

 

In the closing months of 2023, Mike Bickle, the founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas city became the latest Christian leader to be forced to step down due to allegations of sexual misconduct. The lengths that Mike and his leadership team have gone to in order to keep this silent is astonishing. The result of this truth suppression have kept the sin alive and caused the breakup of a number of family’s.


This now deleted tweet from Shiloah Bickle, granddaughter of Mike Bickle and the daughter of Luke Bickle who is also embroiled in the scandal. I admire Shiloah’s desire for truth… which appears to be in short supply in this whole debacle. Shiloah states correctly about how a culture that makes it a priority to protect a ministry or for that matter a person destroys credibility and wrecks lives. Undoubtedly anyone connected is being pressured in one way or another to remove media content or change it.



I grieve with the victims of the leaders involved. I grieve for the victims families who likely never knew the silent shame their mom or their sister were living with. I wonder how their unhealed trauma affected the decisions in their lives as their abuser built up large ministries and gained accolades publicly. 


I have reposted that article that broke the Mike Bickle story here


Even after so much teaching on Biblical leadership and a personal understanding of emotional and spiritual healing, it is shocking that leaders such as Mike and those who protected “the ministry” at IHOPKC could turn a blind eye to those who had been placed under their care.

 

The allegations that appear to have surfaced in 2023 were that young women and teens were manipulated into sexual relationships years ago through Mikes charisma and larger than life Pastoral and Prophetic capacity. Mike Bickle released a statement in December when the evidence finally became undeniable... saying he had moral failures and admitting at least in part to sexual misconduct.


All of the women who came forward thought of Mike as a godly man… a “father figure” so to speak. There was a deep trust there and a Church culture that made him unquestionable. This meant that REGARDLESS of whether the relationship was consensual, which with a minor is not possible… there was a trust broken and an abuse of power at the very least.

 

Here is the December 2023 statement from Mike:

 

“Some may wonder why I am just now making a public statement 20+ years later? It is because I was recently confronted about things that I said or did 20+ years ago—things I believed were dealt with and under the blood of Jesus,” he wrote. “Since this has now become public, I want to repent publicly.”

 

I know people who have experienced sexual abuse or who have been manipulated into a sexual relationship with someone they trusted. One thing that appears consistent is their shock when the abuser “made their first move”. At that point they are already dealing with a trauma response… even without proceeding further than this initial “move” these victims are left with scars from the experience. If the victim does actually manage to reject those advances these women still have to heal from the trauma of broken trust as this person that was supposed to bring healing and protection saw them merely as a sexual object and not someone who is to be honoured, respected, valued and cared for.

 

If you have experienced sexual, emotional or spiritual abuse from a trusted person or know of someone who has been abused by an authority figure it is easy to see that the allegations against Mike are consistent and very credible. There are certain behaviours that seem to happen in nearly every story like this. The victim is constantly gaslite and unsure of what is happening as this cycle repeats:

 

  1. Fatherly or compassionate care

  2. Abuse or assault (there is no consensual when it is a spiritual or father like figure

  3. Threat of exposure

  4. “repentance”

  5. Continued contact through manipulation, regaining of trust and then cycling back to the compassion and care.


Jennifer Freyd, author of the book "Blind to Betrayal" coined this acronym:


D.A.R.V.O


This means Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender. This tactic is often used in in corporate or church abuse settings.


Jennifer says this:


"I have observed that actual abusers threaten, bully and make a nightmare for anyone who holds them accountable or asks them to change their abusive behavior. This attack, intended to chill and terrify, typically includes threats of law suits, overt and covert attacks on the whistle-blower's credibility, and so on. The attack will often take the form of focusing on ridiculing the person who attempts to hold the offender accountable. [...] [T]he offender rapidly creates the impression that the abuser is the wronged one, while the victim or concerned observer is the offender. Figure and ground are completely reversed. [...] The offender is on the offense and the person attempting to hold the offender accountable is put on the defense."

 

The men (or women) who do this are adept at manipulating… they do not see their victims pain or suffering and are driven along by their own desires. More often than not it appears that they are “repentant” not because of genuine care or remorse for the pain inflicted to the victim but rather for the potential loss of their ministry or their marriage and reputation.

 

The victim goes through a shame cycle that keeps them living in the past. There is a term called Trauma Betrayal which means that victims can develop selective amnesia or memory lapses that "gloss over" the abuse. The reason for this is because of the human desire for love and community which could be imperiled by recognizing the abuse. There is often nothing to gain and everything to lose by coming forward with abuse allegations as the victim gets ostracized, maligned, cast out of community and loses their reputation. This is why it can take 10-30 years to come forward for victims. They can repetitively struggle with questions like these:

 

Was it their fault?

 

Were they equally to blame?

 

Where they complicit in the activity?

 

Worse yet, as appears to have happened at IHOPKC several years ago when rape allegations came forward about a different ministry leader… the questions were asked directly of the rape victim. They even placed the victim and the accused in the same room so she could hear “his side” of the story. This is abhorrent… and it is easy to see how a culture of secrecy and control - largely implemented and influenced by Mike Bickle himself created the mess we see today.

 

When men abuse their position of trust it does significant damage to the victims and the organism. Sometimes there are boards or other Christian leaders who want to give the benefit of the doubt to the person they think they know. Often a truly gifted and charismatic leader becomes adept at manipulating their board through scripture and sometimes through prophecy (as appears to have happened at IHOPKC).

 

This is why the story of what happened at IHOPKC made me angry…  it’s not that he was a man who had an affair with a woman. We see that happen all to often and it’s destructive to both individuals when it happens… what is genuinely evil in the case of a Pastor or Church is the manipulation of a power dynamic which constantly deepens the wounds of the victim.

 

What is disturbing and utterly contemptible is how men like this use the genuine faith and desire of their victims to please Christ and they leverage that to fulfill their own twisted narcissistic desires. After this they make them feel like they were equally to blame. In Mikes case it appears he valued his ministry and his title… but not the souls of these young women. He saw them as objects for his personal use.

 

Mike Bickle appears to have known that he had wounded these women, and yet he does not appear to have shared this with his board at any time in 20 plus years of his ministry. This is evidenced by former leaders coming forward and openly sharing how they processed this. It is evidenced as he emailed one of his victims husbands with veiled threats.


Here is a video link of former leaders calling for transparency in what was happening:

 


It appears that Mike further victimized these women by manipulating them to keep their “secret” in order protect the ministry. There was a clear pattern… but many of those closest to him would say “that’s just Mike” when he displayed odd over-friendly behaviour even towards teens.

 

A few years ago Ravi Zacherias was exposed as a narcissistic sexual predator. We learned how he sent ministry leaders and lawyers to destroy his accusers reputations… re-victimizing them in the process. As far as I know he never actually repented of what he did, but that’s really not my point. Even today RVIM continues to keep their non disclosure agreement in place... blocking the truth from coming out. Unfortunately, many Christian organizations continue to support RVIM as it tries to rebrand itself as a champion of victims.

 

Its really time for those who follow Christ to understand that their mission is not to protect a leader, a ministry or an institution. This passage in Isaiah speaks volumes on this topic:

 

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.“

 

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

The calling of the Church… the ministry of those who follow Jesus… is NOT to exalt, protect an institution, a building or a ministry leader. The Church's calling is to shed light on the darkness, to bring healing to those it encounters and hope for those who enter in. The Church is meant to be a place of rest... of community... of peace.

 

My prayer is that the Church grows in its capacity to bring healing to the wounded. May Jesus come back to a Church that while refined by fire, has come through pure and whole. May Jesus prayers found in John 17 be experienced in our time!

 

One additional thought about the topic of abuse in the Church:

 

While I have mostly written about sexual abuse, there are other forms of abuse that can also cause trauma and in some cases they can be mixed together with sexual abuse. One such form of abuse is “Spiritual abuse” - this is when a spiritual leader manipulates and uses their authority and misquoted scriptures to get their victims to do what he/she thinks is best. The “father knows best” scenario is an easy trap for anyone in spiritual authority to fall into. It can be very damaging and confusing for a young Christian when their lives are “managed” by someone they trust. Good spiritual leaders will encourage and engage a search for truth that allows for doubts and questions… choosing to ask more questions than providing answers.

 

If your Church culture does not allow for leaders to be questioned… it is wise to be cautious. Historically this has proved to be problematic and prone to abuse.

 

Mike Bickle won’t be the last person who uses ministry or power to abuse others… but I pray he will be the last one who gets a free pass. I pray that we teach our children how to recognize abuse and abusers wherever they are and that we learn to expose them before they hurt another person.


Take a listen to this Lori Anne Thompson interview. RVIM tried to bury and destroy her and her family before the truth finally came out. Today she is still limited with what she can share since she is still not released from her NDA from what I know.



Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page