And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.”
So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.”
Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’” Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. – 1 Kings 18:43-45
There is a cloud
The history of HIM (Harvest International Ministry) really begins when I was a junior at the University of Maryland, just a 20-year-old, as I was driving up to the main campus entrance. I was at a red light and the Lord said, “Look out the window, I want to show you something.” When I looked out the window I saw a relief map of the world, in the cloud’s formation. I thought to myself, surely I must be making this up, but the wind wasn’t distorting the image. The clouds stayed in perfect formation of the world; North America, Latin America, Europe, and Africa.
But, China and India were twice the size of the rest of the map – twice what should have been to scale. I pulled the car over to the side of the road and looked up. The wind still wasn’t distorting the clouds for at least five minutes, so I said, “Lord, why are You showing me this?” In that moment, He spoke to my heart that I would impact every continent, especially Asia.
Write the Vision
So, I immediately shared this encounter with my pastor at the time, Larry Tomczak. He told me to record the vision and if this was of the Lord it would surely come to pass, but to wait on it, according to Habakkuk 2:2-3. I told him that my interpretation was that I’m called to the nations and maybe I should drop out of college and become a missionary. Larry said no, you’re not ready yet and you just need to mature and continue to be faithful to what’s in front of you.
But, I also shared the encounter with my dad, and I said to him, “Dad, maybe I am supposed to drop out and become a missionary.” And my father said “No, you’re going to graduate from college.” He also said something very interesting to me. He said what felt like a promised to me that, “Not only will you graduate from college, but you will also go to seminary.” That was the first time that he ever mentioned that he wanted me to go to seminary. So, my “small” interpretation of that experience, when I was just 20 years old, was more of the traditional missionary. I had no idea that I would be leading an apostolic network. That was back in 1978; I didn’t know that almost 30 years later, in 1996, I would be involved in birthing HIM.
The miraculous seed for HIM begins there, but, the circumstances around the actual founding of it was another story of prophetic encounter. I had essentially dodged the vision I had back in 1978, and in 1994 our church, Harvest Rock (HRock) had started. By January 1995 we had begun nightly renewal meetings in Mott; revival was breaking out. And in May of 1995, we joined the Vineyard and became a Vineyard Church for what I thought would be for the rest of my life. But, things shifted and by December of 1995, John Wimber, leader of the Vineyard, had asked us to either shut down the nightly meetings or to leave the Vineyard. His recommendation was for us to keep the nightly meetings going, but not to do it as a Vineyard Church. We agreed that it was important to keep the protracted meetings continuing, so Lou Engle and I were sent out by the leadership of the Vineyard, including Todd Hunter and Bob Fulton.
Two short weeks after we were out of the Vineyard I received a phone call from Cindy Jacobs. She called me up and said, “I hear that you are out of the Vineyard and I have a word for you. The Lord says, ‘You are not to join another network. I am going to call you to lead your own network. You’ll be like Abraham, to be a father of many. I have called you to be an apostle, and you will have churches in every single continent around the world.’” When Cindy prophesied that, God immediately brought back to my memory the vision and proclamation of the Lord, that I had back when I was 20 years old at the University of Maryland.
We waited, prayed, and submitted the word to my wife, Sue Ahn, Lou Engle, John Arnott and the other pastors we were in covenant with and they all bore witness. It wasn’t until October of 1996 that we founded Harvest International Ministry. HRock and 14 other churches came together and formed HIM. Even to this day, 20 years later, what I think was so amazing was how we started to grow immediately. And even during the time when I was giving my energies to The Call, from 2000 to 2003, HIM was just exploding around the world and I just started to realize that this was something that the Lord was doing, and it was marvelous in my sight. HIM was growing globally at a time when I wasn’t even traveling internationally, because I was focusing on The Call and mobilizing in the United States. And still, we have had so many major leaders from around the world join HIM throughout the years.
Many of these influential and diverse leaders will be at our annual Harvest International Ministry Conference, Global Summit, in Pasadena, CA, just a few short weeks from now. It’s so common in the media to hear about discord and darkness in our world, but these leaders, such as Bill Johnson, Shawn Bolz, Patricia King, Cindy Jacobs, James Goll, Charles Stock, John Arnott, Rabbi Jason Sobel, and even more, from all over the world, are sharing the good news about how God is moving and transforming nations — breaking through the darkness and establishing the light of the Kingdom in the farthest and most remote places. This is a truly inspiring gathering, and this year we are celebrating 20 years of HIM. For more information about the Global Summit Conference and how you can be a part, check out our website.