I can only speak for one city in Northern California, but as far as we are concerned, the revival in Toronto crossed into US borders and has spread to this small city, bringing hope and healing to an area filled with drug infestation and poverty. This is the story of a river of spiritual refreshing that has changed a community.
When I was 18, I was already well down the path that leads to destruction and anger. Then I met Jesus. At a Christian concert God took hold of me. Twenty seconds and one prayer later, I knew God was real. My whole world was different.
During the 70’s and early 80’s, I became a youth pastor, married and started a family, living and loving God. By the late 80’s, though, I began to struggle to find the presence of God. The flow of God’s living water was scarce. Others were feeling the same way.
When the 90’s arrived, it became depressing. “Where is God?” we would ask. While God was still there, His presence was becoming difficult to find. I was so dry that I began to burn out on ministry and wanted to quit. I had always worked as a carpenter in addition to being a youth pastor. With a wife and four kids, I would work as much as it took to pay the bills and try to fit ministry in between.
In the mid 80’s, I got my contractor’s license from the state of California and began to see my business flourish. I continued to seek the Lord, telling Him that if possible, I would love to never go back into ministry. I had done it for so many years, and now I had a wonderful family that needed my time and a business that was doing really well. I was enjoying my life, but one thing was missing, the love of the Father.
Then God asked me to move to Oroville. Within twenty four hours, I packed up my family. Once in Oroville I met a pastor that asked me to help build his church. I helped out by leading worship, running the finances and doing everything that was needed behind the scenes, all while becoming drier spiritually.
He was there. I found what I had been looking for.
About the same time, I started seeing programs on TV where people in churches were shaking and experiencing other outward manifestations. “O great,” I would think, “this is just what the church needs, to look foolish again.” I became very judgmental.
Then, one day I found myself sitting at a picnic table at a kid’s camp. A friend of mine, a very skeptical pastor, started sharing about his time at Toronto and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The fact that he testified to the authenticity of the Toronto Blessing piqued my interest. He told of change in his life; how it brought him and his wife both physical and spiritual healing. Then he used the term, “watering hole,” and I knew I had to go there.
So in the fall of 1995, I made a trip to Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF). The first class I attended was on the subject of worship and the teacher was Jeremy Sinnott. Although the teaching was good, I just sat there and closed my eyes asking God, “Where are You? Are You here?”
I felt the slightest wisp of God’s breath on me. I sucked in my breath and gasped, “There You are!” It was a tiny, brief wisp, but I knew He was there. I found what I had been looking for. That class ended, and I decided to come back for the evening service.
Then what seemed like all craziness broke out! There were people “manifesting” all over the place; walking like chickens, flopping on the ground, wailing like sirens. It was the most raucous, annoying thing I had ever seen at a church. I was so offended. Everything they did appalled and disgusted me. Finally, I said to the Lord, “I came 300 miles to find you, but all I’ve found is a basket full of ‘fruits and nuts!’ ”
But then I heard the Lord answer, “If it’s Me do you want it?”
“Yes, Lord if it is You I want it. I feel like I have been living in a dry parched land, and I don’t know how to find You.”
Right at the moment, Mark Dupont stopped his sermon and said, “I have a message from the Lord for someone here. The message is, “You’ve been living in a dry and parched land, and the Lord has rivers of living water for you. If that is you, please come forward.”
That was the very phrase I had just said to the Lord. It was amazing! I was running for it, hurdling and leaping over people. I found myself up front yelling, “It’s me, it’s me!” I was so excited. Then as I looked behind me, I saw hundreds of people coming up front.
I don’t know what is going on but I’m so dang happy!
I thought, “I know it’s for me." Someone on the prayer team prayed for me, and immediately, I fell down. I was surprised and jumped back up on my feet. I didn’t want to fall down so quickly. Not much more happened that night; I just watched the people around me.
When I got back to my hotel, I called my wife, Vicki. I was glad I had not called her two hours earlier, or I would have told her, “This is crazy and I’m coming home!” But because I had felt that tiny wisp of God’s presence and had fallen down in response to receiving prayer, I told her that I didn’t know what was happening. “I feel like there is something here, but it is really crazy! I don’t know if I can get beyond my offense, but I am going to stay.”
The next day, having missed the shuttle for the morning meeting, I began to walk back to TACF. As I walked, my mind wandered. Suddenly, I stopped and said to myself, “I don’t know what is going on, but I am so dang happy!”
The minute I said, “Dang happy,” the Holy Spirit “hit me” right there as I stood on the grass median on Attwell Drive. I fell down, laughing hysterically, literally screaming with laughter. Cars were screeching to a stop to see if I was okay. The drivers were thinking that I was having a heart attack. I looked up at them and laughed all the more. People drove off thinking I was a nut!
This went on for forty minutes; I laughed myself to healing. I got up and started walking, but ended up skipping to the church. Of course, I had missed the meeting, but I went back to services the rest of the week and kept laughing, standing in lines and getting prayer.
When I flew back to Oroville, I went to church and picked up my guitar to lead worship. I found that I could play music I could never play before; my hands worked better with the guitar, and my singing improved. I loved to be up front whereas before it had become a job. People began to fall down on the ground during worship. The Holy Spirit would come like a wave over the church, bringing many marvelous miracles.
God was revealing to me that this was a new beginning. I began to cherish the idea of being in ministry.
Next, God showed me a vision of The Father’s House Church (TFHC).
“This is what I have for you, Steve.” He said, “This is why you are in Oroville.” I began to see the vision of TFHC becoming a reality; this was 6 years after moving to Oroville and about 5 months after going to Toronto. “Today TFHC is more than I could ever have dreamed.”
Since my visit to Toronto, God has moved into South Oroville. Life changes are the norm for people around TFHC. These are only a few testimonies of how the river of revival is changing the community of South Oroville.
Katie Bruhn says, “Before, I was slamming dope, homeless, a bully, thief, and was thrown into prison. I was angry and did not care about anything or anyone. I lost my kids and had no hope. Now I understand that God forgave me and helped me forgive myself. I am loved by God and people. I am seeing my kids again and being restored to my family. When John Arnott was at TFHC, he prayed for me. I felt God for the first time in my life. It was the best high I’ve ever had. I want to continue to follow God and be His ambassador to others.”
Mike and Winnifred Drymond are another example of the impact of revival. Mike says, “I started taking heroin at the age of 13. I used every drug until I was 41 years old. I spent half of that time in prison. I was a drug addict, a liar and a thief.” Michael and Winnifred were married in jail. He wore an orange jump suit and she wore a red one.
“During our time in jail, we both met Jesus and truly began walking with Him in a personal relationship,” states Winnifred. For Mike, the most amazing thing is that he has been completely drug free for the last 7 years. Drugs aren’t even an option for him. God has restored Mike’s relationship with six of his seven children. He even has custody of his younger children.
Mike and Winnifred recently purchased a home – something Mike thought only happened to “other” people. They are constantly leading people to Christ. Their home is a magnet for those who are recovering addicts. Evangelizing and discipling others is a way of life for them.
Their excitement and passion for Jesus is contagious.
Laura Hammon’s life has also changed because of revival. She says, “I was a very angry person and did not love myself or others. I was addicted to drugs and lived a sexually immoral lifestyle. I had been homeless and was sleeping on a park bench. My kids were taken from me and I had lost hope. TFHC showed me how to live a life that is filled with mercy and grace. They provided a home for me so I could be reunified with my kids. Now my children are back home. Since being saved, my life has been absolutely amazing. I am peaceful, compassionate and loving. I want to spread the love of Christ.”
The river of God has also changed Terry Hawkins and his family. Terry shares, “This church (TFHC) has shown me love. I have learned to trust God. God is causing me to work on my relationship with my wife and family. I now look for ways to honor Him in the workplace.”