COVER STORY: Time for an Honest Apology to Women

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When I first heard about the sexual scandal involving Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer in Kansas City this past December, my initial reaction was defensive. I didn’t want to believe the charges made by “Jane Doe,” one of the alleged victims. My thoughts went like this: “Maybe this was a false accusation? The church doesn’t need another embarrassing scandal. The devil is a liar!”

But I cringed on Dec. 12, 2023, when Bickle released a statement of confession. His victim had suffered for years before she finally mustered the courage to speak out. Soon we learned there were more victims, revealing a sick game of manipulation and control. My heart sank when details surfaced about another woman who had been involved with Bickle in his prior years as a youth pastor.

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It became obvious: There had been a disturbing pattern of sexual abuse at IHOP, and with it, a pattern of hiding that abuse.

Details are still being sorted out at IHOP, and it remains to be seen whether that ministry will survive the crisis. (Editor’s Note: IHOPKC has announced the closure of all associated ministries other than the 24/7 prayer room; see this article for details.) Meanwhile, those of us who are leaders in the global charismatic/Pentecostal movement have some serious issues to settle with God. The IHOP scandal is a harsh reminder that we have a huge problem. When the IHOP investigation ends, the worst thing we can do is go back to business as usual. We need to stop, mourn for the victims, grieve for our own hardness of heart and publicly repent for the sin of sexual abuse.

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In the past few years, Baptist women who endured various forms of sexual abuse from pastors, youth leaders or children’s workers in the Southern Baptist Convention risked ridicule by coming forward with their painful stories of abuse and harassment. It became obvious that SBC leaders at times refused to believe female victims of abuse, even those who were suffering from the trauma, depression, humiliation and suicidal thoughts that sometimes accompany this type of exploitation.

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