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Return Of The Prophets

Welcome to the Holy Bickle Empire in south Kansas City.

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Friends of the Bridegroom needs money, he says.

Like the rest of the IHOP staff, Bickle draws no salary, he says. All interns, students and staff rely on financial sponsors to support the ministry's work. Bickle's thirty sponsorships, which he says total around $33,000 a year, include donations from Charisma magazine and the Metro Christian Fellowship (formerly the Kansas City Fellowship, which Bickle left in 1999).

At the conference, Bickle says later, 3,500 people attended and donated around $40,000 to IHOP and its ministry for the poor. They donated another $18,000 to compensate conference speakers.

All royalties from thousands of books and tapes sold by Friends of the Bridegroom, Bickle says, go directly back into IHOP and its other ministries, such as Mercy, Food and Clothing, a ministry to feed the poor. In 2000, Friends of the Bridegroom reported total income of more than $927,000 from its nonprofit operations and expenditures of nearly $714,000, according to a 990 form filed with the IRS. An accountant for the organization says it was granted an extension by the IRS and has not yet filed its 2001 return.

Friends of the Bridegroom envisions a future that will bring 2,000 students to the Forerunner School of Prayer and 5,000 staff members to the International House of Prayer, which currently employs 400 staff members and has a student enrollment of 300.

In 1997, Friends of the Bridegroom purchased 94 acres, dubbed Shiloh Estates, one mile south of Terrace Lake Shopping Center for about $1 million. There, as many as 500 IHOP staff members will live in studio apartments or townhouses. Shiloh Ministries reported income of $1.1 million in 1999, according to a 990 form. Shiloh Estates will train prophetic ministers, and Paul Cain, one of the Kansas City Prophets, will return as its president.

On one of Bickle's CDs, Our Prophetic History -- a series of lectures about IHOP -- Cain recounts a vision that he says he was prohibited from talking about when he was a guest on Pat Robertson's 700 Club TV show. "I can't even tell it on Pentecostal television," Cain says with a sigh.

Cain says the vision unfolded as though on a movie screen. He saw a stadium filled with thousands of people. Thousands more waited outside along with ambulances and hearses lined up for blocks. On a massive platform were "men and women of God" attending to "stretcher cases and gurneys and dead people from hospitals and morgues.

"They were saying, 'We've got a resurrection over here!' and somebody got off a hospital gurney and was raised alive," Cain tells the awestruck audience, which frequently breaks into wild applause. "News anchormen were saying, 'Ladies and gentlemen, we have no news to report tonight but good news! Every ball field, every sports arena, every auditorium and every available building is filled to capacity with men and women of God. ... The dead are being raised, and millions of people are falling on their faces saying, 'Jesus is Lord!'"

Then he reveals that he believes the phantom stadium is Arrowhead, but Cain has somehow managed to avoid seeing the city landmark, lest his hopes be dashed.

"I won't go anywhere near Arrowhead Stadium, because I couldn't stand the disappointment if it's not what I saw in that vision," Cain told Bickle. "I believe it will happen at Arrowhead and stadiums all over the world," Bickle tells the Pitch.

On the same CD, Bickle also tells of one of his own mystical experiences, one from August 1984, in which he was swept from his Belton duplex to heaven in the middle of the night. Bickle had been asleep but suddenly found himself "in the presence of the Lord."

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