What do I use today to make a difference for Christ?
From an article by Transform our World
The town of Oroville lies 70 miles north of Sacramento, California. It was a Gold Rush boomtown with a transition to agriculture followed by a steady economic decline into the 1990’s. Widespread poverty and drug addiction set in, causing crime to skyrocket, including delinquent youths roaming the streets and living off whatever could be stolen.
Into this backdrop, in 1991, Sacramento-based construction company owner and pastor, Steve Orsillo was sitting in the driveway of a house he was contracted to build in Oroville when God told him to move his family there.
Earlier that day, Steve had a conversation with his wife about how terrible Oroville was. He replied to the Lord, “You are going to have a tell Vicki!” Within a couple of minutes, Vicki called him and said, “The Lord just told me we need to move to Oroville.” That night they rented a U-Haul, packed their children and belongings into it, and left for Oroville before the sun came up the next morning.
“At that time, the tallest sign in Oroville was for a Shell Gasoline station. The “S” in “Shell” had burned out, so at night dominant feature over the town was a sign proclaiming “hell”, which many locals thought appropriate.” Steve adds dryly as he shares Oroville’s story. “We were aware of the town’s reputation, but when God speaks, you obey.”
Upon arrival, the Orsillos engaged in construction, but in 1998 also distinctly heard God tell them to start a congregation in the Southside, “the worst part of town,” and to call it The Father’s House, because He wanted to speak to the nations from Oroville.
They did as prompted and their new congregation soon grew to 120, but later sank back to only nine. Steve sought the Lord for help and realized in prayer that he was running his congregation like his business. God showed him through scripture that instead he needed to become a spiritual father to those around him because they were spiritual orphans.
Next, God instructed Steve to fast and pray in the downtown for 40 days. During that time, a demonic presence visibly manifested itself and asserted to Steve that it owned the town. Steve inquired of the Lord to determine what gave that demonic power authority in Oroville, and was shown the sin of selfishness. Steve sought the Lord again and was impressed through scripture that he was to walk in the opposite spirit, and as he did, to believe and declare that the town belonged to Jesus.
Steve reflects, “People think the opposite of love is hate, but it’s actually selfishness. A lack of giving of oneself is a sure way to give the enemy ground from where he’ll tear people apart.” To put into action what God was speaking, Steve mobilized his construction company, intercessors and congregants to take on a job that nobody wanted- clearing out gigantic piles of rodent-infested garbage that littered the streets of most blighted neighborhood on Oroville’s south side.
When the landfill officials heard what they were doing, they agreed to let them dispose of it free of charge, and by the time they finished, 300,000 pounds of garbage had been removed, along with over 100 abandoned cars. Streets that were previously almost impossible to navigate were clear for the first time in years.
Next, the Orsillos bought derelict homes used by drug addicts, demolished them, and rebuilt beautiful new ones in their place. The area soon took off, values shot up, and other builders followed suit. Steve encouraged praying low-in-come families to take up residence, which further changed the area. Crime dropped and the need for regular police presence was reduced.
As the years went on, they began a highly effective addition recovery program and a food bank. The Father’s House grew to 50 staff serving a congregation of 159. This ratio appears unsustainable, but the Orsillos discovered it could be done by raising up businesses.
In order to break the spirit of selfishness, the Orsillos leveraged all of their business profits to create businesses for their staff that allow them to serve the city from a posture of generosity to repeat the process.
By 2013, The Father’s House seeded leading businesses, such as:
THE LORD’S GYM, where youth can get membership for only $5 per month. It is state-of–the-art and completely volunteer-run. The staff do not take paychecks because they want as much revenue as possible to go back into the community. This has been so successful that a large corporation in Los Angeles has seeded equipment to start a second Oroville location for the sole purpose of mentoring and ministry to disciple ex-prison inmates, drug dealers and recovering addicts.
YOVILLE FROZEN YOGURT, the leading ice cream shop, is run by a former drug addict who’s now doing so well that she also runs the food bank, giving away tens of thousands of meals each year.
As the spirit of generosity blossomed, incredible things began to happen.
1. The Mayor recently became a believer, and exclaimed, “Every town should have a Father’s House!” She is advocating a video about the transformation of the city that will call on pastors and churches all over the world to get outside their four walls.
2. Major companies that previously avoided Oroville are now locating there, further helping the economy.
3. Father’s House leaders, Danielle and Derek Devine hold assemblies at every single Oroville elementary school, reaching 4,000 children with transformation principles taught in plain, secular language, and have been eagerly received by school administration.
4. To draw the community together in recreation, a free annual “Mud Run” obstacle course race for 9,000 people (participants plus spectators) is held. Because it is free, the Lord has given favour with major corporations who provide sponsorship.
When asked how they find time to facilitate such a tremendous amount of activity. Steve replies, “We give what we have away, and then the Lord expands our time and provision, it’s fishes and loaves. All I really have is the day I wake up in and the day I go to bed in. So the question becomes, 'What do I use today to make a difference for Christ?'".
Oroville’s testimony is reaching believers from as far away as Europe and South America, who come to learn how to duplicate what is happening. The Oroville team stand as a shining example of the final transformation paradigm, “Nation Transformation must be tangible with the premier indicator being the elimination of systemic poverty.”
Watch this 3 min video about The Father's House and see more details here.
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