by Stephanie James
From 3 July to 9 July this year, I had the honor in representing PenHOP to help pioneer an internship with Vigan House of Prayer (VigHOP), in Vigan City, the Philippines with two other leaders from Burning Hearts, Singapore.
The heart behind the week-long Ignite Internship was to build upon the message that has impacted many via VigHOP’s Burning Hearts conferences and also to provide foundational teaching for the spiritual growth of those who serve in houses of prayer in the Philippines. The focus was on the theme of intimacy, and although most of us not did not really know what we were doing, we said “yes” to this invitation in faith. It was later on that we discovered that this too was an internship for us, in intimacy and in trust, and we got to see how our simple obedience in surrendering our five loaves and two fishes into the Lord’s hands could be multiplied many times over!
That week, 23 interns of varying ages from across the northern region of the Philippines came together to encounter the Living God. Some were drawn in by their existing connection with folks from VigHOP, while others were desiring to start houses of prayer in their own place but needed to be equipped for the task ahead. A good number of the attendees were also part of the core team at VigHOP itself.
In those seven days as we taught classes, led Bible studies, facilitated workshops and ministered in prayer and in fellowship, I got to witness identities restored, fears lifted, hearts healed, and vision realigned – many emerged more whole then when they walked in. I got to witness the staff step out in boldness to lead and saw in their eyes the fulfillment and encouragement they found in seeing the Lord use their small offerings to produce fruit that will remain. I can confidently say being a witness and participant in this was one of the greatest joys of my life thus far!
On a more personal note, this too was a defining trip for me. On the same date three years ago (and on my birthday too!), I stepped into PenHOP’s Burn Internship not knowing what I was getting myself into; the same was true for VigHOP’s founder and leader, James Lacaden, who was in the same internship with me! But now, I get to travel to a foreign land to pioneer with them an internship within their local context with much anticipation for what this would then birth in their land! And in that place I felt a reassurance: I was made for this - to walk with my God and disciple the nations! How incredible is our God!
There, the Lord also showed me His shepherd’s heart for the nations in this region. One thing that really impacted my heart was watching the way many pastors in their youth lead churches all by themselves in underdeveloped provinces, most of them struggling to stay afloat but unable to even acknowledge their need or receive help for their own heart. All of a sudden, the need for the prayer movement in the nations made even more sense: to be a hiding place for many to be restored and then sent out again with a renewed sense of identity, zeal and vision.
Needless to say, it was an impactful week for the interns as well as staff (myself included!), and I am more than convinced that the fruit of this labor will be multiplied many times over in all its sweetness and will endure to the end.