I moved to Kansas City at 18 years old during the lowest point of my life to attend IHOPU. I was in a vulnerable place emotionally and my hope was that being at IHOP would enable God to “fix me”. During my first summer there, I worked as a counselor at the awakening teen camp. I made friends with a man who was in a leadership position of a specific area of the camp at that time. He was married, (age 37 or 38) and had two children with his wife. He served on IHOP staff and was a co worship leader for a major “daytime team”. He also ran an ihop staff small group during this time. I got along well with him and we had a very healthy and professional coworker friendship. ( I will refer to him as “the leader”) I received a text from him a few weeks after the summer camp ended, stating that he felt that God told him to invite me to his small group. This was amazing news to me as I had been praying for weeks for a “spiritual father”. I thought this was an answered prayer and a sign from God, but really, it was the beginning stages of the grooming process. I attended the small group and the problems began shortly after that. After my first time visiting, I started receiving texts from the leader at late hours of the night. At first, I thought he was texting me because maybe he had a dream or “prophetic word” he wanted to share, but this was not the case at all. I convinced myself that I was reading into it.. even though the texts seemed very flirty, he was a “man of God” and I must be misreading the situation. God did tell him that I was supposed to attend his small group after all. So I continued to text him back. I take ownership of my part in it because I easily could have not responded. I believe a part of me knew it was inappropriate but a bigger part wanted kindness and a “spiritual family” so badly that I allowed it to continue. I trusted him due to his leadership position and didn’t want to acknowledge the red flags I was seeing. The texts escalated to sexual topics and more flirting and it quickly turned into sexting. I participated in these conversations and I must take accountability for that as what I did was wrong. He eventually told me that he had always wanted to have sex with me, and recalled the specific moment and outfit I was wearing during our time at summer camp (6 months earlier) that this fantasy began for him. This shocked me as I never thought to assume that he planned this or wanted this all along. I truly believed that God wanted me to attend his small group but it became evident that the leader had other motives from the beginning. He asked for nude photos and we continued this sexting type relationship for weeks. I would see him leading worship in the prayer room the night after he told me how badly he wanted to “fuck me”. I felt sick. I was being eaten alive with the guilt and shame of what I was doing and he was not phased at all. I felt that God was going to send me straight to hell and was disgusted with myself for talking to a married man, but I felt trapped. I even ended up going to the emergency room because my anxiety was so severe I thought I was having a heart attack. During all of this time, I was in the program “living waters”. Living Waters was supposed to set you “free” from your “sin issues” and other unhealthy patterns but all it left me with was more questions and confusion. I did not benefit from attending living waters and if anything, it triggered me and my past trauma due to the fact that unqualified and untrained “preachers” are facilitating discussion and exploration of traumatic events. This is incredibly unethical and flat out dangerous to do if you are not a mental health professional. Eventually in a living waters meeting, I “confessed” to the group that I was talking to a married man inappropriately and the facilitators of the group directly asked if it was someone who attended IHOP. I hesitated and said yes and they went and brought in the director of living waters in the room and left me alone with her. This was the first and last time I ever had a one on one conversation with the director of living waters. The director of living waters asked me who it was and what kind of nude pictures were sent, (which I still don’t know why she asked that) and asked if we had had sex which we had not. She then told me that I was to text him “The head director of living waters knows about what’s going on and this needs to stop.” And then left the room. I then had to prove that I sent the text to the leader, by having one of the living waters group facilitators watch me press “send” on the text. The class then carried on as normal. That was all that happened. No follow up. No further questions. No nothing. It was clear that the living waters director never told anybody else about this because the next month, the leader recorded an album with the primary worship leader that was to be released in the coming months. As far as I know he still continued in all his ihop roles until he and his family decided to move shortly after this situation. I don’t know to this day if his wife ever found out or if anybody on the leadership team ever knew. It wasn’t until a year later when I began seeing an ihop “life coach” that anything was done about my situation. During one of our sessions, I shared about the guilt ,shame and fear I felt regarding the leader - and how scared I was that he would show up at any moment. She took it upon her own hands to email leadership and advocate that he not be permitted to be a part of any leadership roles at ihop. She informed each department that he was affiliated with and let them know that he was abusing his position and participating in sexual misconduct with ihopu students. I heard this all second hand from the life coach and still never had any leaders reach out to me. I never ran into him again and so I believe what she told me was correct. I stayed at Ihop after that for another four years, hoping that what I experienced was a one off experience but began to see that this was the norm. The lack of accountability, transparency And sexual abuse of power became an evident theme within the Ihop community. I eventually left and looking back, I am horrified at what ihop leadership allowed to take place within their community. The living waters director had the responsibility and duty to protect when being made aware of abuse of power and sexual misconduct. The leader continued to be in public ministry positions after being reported and nothing was ever done. It wasn’t until a volunteer “life coach” advocated for me a year later that my story was ever heard. Still to this day, it has never been followed up on.

- Student and staffNA