Giving God a Home
God's passionate love for His children awakens the dreams and calling over their lives.
You should go to Toronto, and go to the Soaking School there. I think it would be good for both of you, and also give some credibility to what you are doing,” said a dear friend of ours. It was August of 2003, and in fact, this was the third person in two weeks to encourage us to go to Toronto for the Soaking School. By the third time, we decided maybe the Lord was trying to say something to us!
This came at a very pivotal time in our lives. We knew the Lord was about to make some changes for us, but we really didn’t have any clear direction yet. We had been touched by revival years before, in 1996 in Houston, Texas, in some meetings with an Australian evangelist named Chris Harvey. The anointing was very strong in Chris’ meetings, and he taught us that we could “lie in the River” at home, and that the Holy Spirit would touch us.
Meanwhile, we had been raising our children in good churches in the Houston area, but over the years we had gotten dry. We just were not satisfied with the regular routine of Sunday morning church anymore. We wanted His presence! When we had attended the revival meetings, it was like pouring water on dry, cracked land. We just soaked it up!
In 1999, after going from revival meeting to revival meeting for a few years, often in other cities or states, we began to feel the Lord telling us to open our home to the anointing. We started inviting friends over for “River” meetings. People were amazed that the Lord would touch them in a house meeting! We had meetings monthly for several years, always inviting in a guest minister. We also hosted a few conferences at a local hotel.
From the beginning of our home meetings, the Lord had given us a dream of a ministry that would be born from this. We didn’t really know what it would look like, but we knew that the Holy Spirit must have the freedom to touch His people. That was His desire, and we wanted to make room for that.
By August 2003, the Lord had been speaking to us that we were to take the ministry further and make it more structured than just home meetings, but we still didn’t know exactly what we were to do. Buck had even felt led to leave his career of 16 years in the financial services industry.
This was a major decision, because we had four children, a mortgage and everything that goes with it. But the Lord confirmed this several ways, and we knew we had to obey. (Buck even received a generous offer to stay on with the firm, but had to refuse.)
So, when three different people, who didn’t even know each other, all told us to go to Toronto for the Soaking School, we asked the Lord if He wanted us to go, and He said, "YES!" Although we had been in revival for several years, we had never had the opportunity to go to Toronto, or hear any of the teaching from there.
We arrived in Toronto in November of 2003, for the Soaking School and the Father Loves You Conference, and the Lord began ministering to us from the very first day. June Bain told us about the beginning of the renewal in Toronto and taught about contemplative prayer, soaking and inner healing.
Jeremy Sinnott taught us about hearing God’s voice and journaling. Buck and I both just loved this teaching. We were learning things we had never heard before!
But, of course, it was the teaching on the Father’s love for us that completely changed our lives forever.
We had no idea that the Lord’s love for us was so passionate and radical. I wept as Father’s love swept over me. Inside, I kept thinking that everyone everywhere should hear this teaching. Why, why, why hadn’t we heard it before?
Buck returned to Toronto in January to attend the Leaders’ School. It was during the Leader’s School that Buck received two visions that completely changed his concept of the Lord, and that have become the cornerstone of what we teach now.
At the end of the Leader’s School, John and Carol Arnott prayed for the students to receive an impartation of the Father’s love and to send us out to minister. Something was truly imparted to us, because now, whenever we minister, the Father’s love is the foundation of everything that we teach and do.
When Buck returned home from the Leader’s School, we were still holding meetings in our home, but now he began to minister. We would soak in God’s presence, and Buck taught all the things that he had learned at the Leader’s school. We also began to step out and give prophetic words to people. Our meetings were sometimes very small, but the Lord always touched people, and the anointing was always strong.
Many people received much healing and revelation at these first meetings.
The meetings slowly began to grow.
During this time, we also formalized the ministry, getting our non-profit status approved, and establishing a website. We named our ministry The River Connection.
While in Toronto in January 2004, Buck had met Cindy Parton from Dallas, Texas, who has held “Soaking Parties” in her home for many years. In April, she and her husband Bob came down to our home to hold a soaking seminar for three days. We had a blast with them! Through these meetings, we met other people in the area who were interested in soaking, and many of them began coming to our soaking meetings. One couple we met, Dennis and Lydia Tyne, had moved here from South Africa because they felt the Lord said that the next great move of God would be in America. They have since become a major part of our church.
We also were hosting conferences at a nearby hotel. About this time, we began to feel that it was time to move the meetings out of our home. We began looking at different places, but none seemed right. However, that October, during another conference we were hosting, we happened to mention to one of the ladies there, that we were looking for a place for our meetings. She excitedly waved over her friend, Carolyn Borger, and said, “Carolyn, listen to this!” I repeated what I had said, and Carolyn smiled and said, “Well, I have a building.”
It turned out that she runs a food pantry ministry called “Amigos de Dios” (friends of God), in nearby Stafford, just outside of Houston. She and her late husband had started it many years before when God put it on their hearts to reach out to the poor and needy. Carolyn offered to let us use the building for free if we would just cover the electricity bill.
That December, we held our first River Connection conference at Amigos de Dios. Prior to that, we had received a prophetic word that a spiritual explosion was about to take place in our area. The first day of the conference, there was a literal explosion at a factory just a couple of miles away. Thankfully, no one was hurt. We felt that this was confirmation of the spiritual explosion that the Lord had promised. That conference with June was wonderful, and was the start of the River pouring out at the new building.
In January, we began holding Sunday evening meetings at Amigos. The initial response was good, with more than 30 people attending those first couple of meetings.
One thing that the Lord instructed us to do was to “bring Toronto to Houston.”
What we believe He meant by that is to bring not only the anointing in, but also the teaching. We invited Mark Virkler to minister this past March, and 120 people squeezed into our building! They loved the Communion with God Seminar that Mark taught, and many of them also took the follow-up class that we offered. This past June, Ivan and Isabel Allum came and taught a Prophetic Conference for us. We have also had John Scotland minister for us, as well as Chris Harvey.
From the beginning, we have not felt that we were to have “just a church,” but that we would also be a training and equipping center. We believe that we are to help train up others for the ministries into which the Lord has called them. Too many people have been sitting on pews or chairs as audience members for too long. The Lord wants to raise up an army to do the work of gathering in the harvest. We are already praying about the next building so that we can have room for more people, training classes, a Healing Room, a youth ministry, and a revival bookstore and coffee shop.
All of this really was born out of soaking, and we are so thankful that the Lord sent us to Toronto to attend the Soaking School. We still pray for people and soak at the end of every meeting, and on Wednesdays, we have a special soaking night.
We will never get tired of soaking, because it’s there, resting in the presence the God, that we are refreshed, changed, healed, revived, and just fall more and more in love with our Lord.