IHOP worship leader Jon Thurlow joined hundreds of mostly Korean American college students and young adults in worship during the recent event, ‘Worship Nights with Jon Thurlow,’ hosted at Grace Ministries International (GMI), one of the largest Korean churches in Southern California.

This two-night event, which took place on January 22-23, consisted mostly of worship music and brief messages from Jon Thurlow and his wife, Kinsey, both of whom are on the International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC) staff. The first night saw some 700 attendees, while about 500 attended the second night.

“We had one main focus for these worship nights,” said Paul Kim, the creative director of GMI’s college ministry and the main coordinator behind the event. “And that is simply encounter. With a name as big as ‘Jon Thurlow,’ we knew some people might be coming to hear his songs, meet him, or simply come because his name is well known. We prayed as a staff that people would come for encounter rather than concert.”

“And I believe with all my heart that people really did encounter God this past weekend! We wanted to make the night about Jesus and not about man,” Kim added.

One aspect that Jon Thurlow emphasized on Friday night was that he felt he needed “to return to his first love.” And that return to his first love, Thurlow said, involves many facets -- the Word, prayer, fasting, and pulling away from distractions and “things that have the potential to dull our spirits,” to name a few. Meditating on the Word informs and affects the way he lives his life; prayer allows him to open up his heart to the Lord and praying in tongue in particular edifies his spiritual man; and fasting makes his heart more “tender” to the Lord, Thurlow said.

“When I look back at the seasons when I fasted, there was a heightened tenderness to the things of God,” he explained. “A heightened sharpness to the Word and the Holy Spirit.”

In contrast, many things in life take him away from the things of God, he said.

“These days, I feel like I’m always checking Facebook, and then I’m checking the news, and then I’m checking the weather, and then Facebook again, and then the weather again,” Thurlow said as the audience laughed. “I need to pull back and dial down on what’s going on in the inside.”

He added that there’s a place for social media, the news, and the other things that ask for our attention, but “we need to ask, ‘Where are those things on our priority scale?’”

Meanwhile, GMI has hosted several events in the past with IHOPKC, including a Onethig regional conference in 2009, and the Purple Pig Tour in 2010.