Robert & Debbie
The Father’s House
(Please listen to Robert and Debbie’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)
When he had been in the hospital, the Lord had given Robert a full color vision of this house and things that are going on in it. And he shared it with me the next morning, and it really bore witness with my spirit. At the time we were in the Episcopal church, we called our priest, and Robert said, “Hey, I’ve got this vision. I just had this vision. If it’s drugs, if it’s not God, would you just pray that off?” So our priests prayed, and the vision didn’t go away. The Lord just kept expanding on the vision. And we realized it was something that the Lord had for us. But we figured it was 40 years down the road when the Lord gives visions like that. And there often is a preparation process and walking into it. But we walked into it seven years later, and it was the Father’s House, which became a ministry. It was a 24/7 ministry for young men between 18 and 30 that would come and live with us. It was a discipleship house. It was in East Dallas. We had prayed, you know, how are guys even going to find us? And the Lord had told us that he would bring them to us. And he did. And so guys would literally show up at our door, and all walks of life, all walks of life. We would have people that were on crack, people that were on heroin, people that were acting out, people that were homeless, all the way up to some of the wealthiest families in Dallas, their sons.
I think it was 1999 — 98, something like that. Couple years later, the Lord told us, it’s time to change churches–told us both together, separately. We went to our priest and told him what had happened, what was going on, that God was calling us out of the church. We weren’t dissatisfied or upset or there was nothing. There was no wedge. We felt sent out by the Episcopal church as missionary types. Headed over to John Wallace’s church, and it was the first Sunday they started at noon. So we got there, right as the service was starting. And from then on, we were part of the church. John, we went to a newcomers’ class to find out if we were supposed to be there and told John and I think Suzanne was in there. We said, “Well, we’re here because God sent us. God told us to be here. And we’ve got a vision for this house.” They’re like, well, that’s all well and good, but we don’t have a vision for that. And we’re like, okay, that’s fine. We’re good. So we just settled in, became part of prayer ministries, and we did outreaches to the apartments across the street, and they did prayer walks, and then the church transitioned to down de Belem. So we did a bunch of night overnight prayers there. And we had a bunch of homeless people that came in and stuff like that, and prayed over them and did a lot of ministry time. And the younger ones in the church, the 20s and 30s, said we need a discipleship house. They said, “We need one, we have to have one.” So they went to John and talked to him about it, told him about it. And they went and found a house. This is a big 1920’s mansion just off of Swiss Avenue. So it’s one of those types with a carriage house out back. The asking price for the house was $345,000. The church had a building fund that they had built up and when they were on Garland Road, and it had quite a bit of money in. Well, John, knowing that it wasn’t going to be used for a church building, sent a message out to everybody that had given to the building fund, and asked them if they wanted their money back. And some did. But most people didn’t. So we had that money to use. And John went away for a weekend and prayed about how much money they should offer for this house. So he went away and prayed and the Lord told him to offer the number of worshipers in the temple. Well John had no clue. So he had to go look up how many worshippers were in the temple and turned out was 288. So he offered $288,000. And they just kind of laughed at him. He said, “Okay, that’s fine.” Well, we had a realtor at the time, of course, trying to work with us to buy this house. And the realtor was like, “Okay, let’s go look at other houses.” And John said, “No, this is the house. This is the house we want.” And so they went back to the guy and he finally came down a little bit. And John said, “Well, I’ll see what I can do. But this is, you understand, this is all the money the church has that we put towards this house. All of it.” And so finally, the guy says, okay, $300,000. If you give me $300,000, I’ll sell you the house. So John sends the paperwork over and I believe on paperwork, it still says $288,000. And it doesn’t come back for like a month. Then all of a sudden, I mean, the guy’s like upset. No, it’s got to be $300,000 all this other, and then all of a sudden that comes back $288,000. But he made a demand that we buy all the furniture in the house. You know, he didn’t want to move it. So we had to buy it.
Yeah, it was, buy it or the deals… the deal’s off. That’s it. $7,000 Yeah. So John scraped together $6,000. And that’s all we’ve got. It’s like, it has to be in tomorrow, or the deal’s done.
And by this time, the realtor is so excited about what’s going on. The realtor puts in $1000.00. The realtor gave us $1000.00.
So John’s talking to the realtor on the phone. Says I gotta have that money today, we got to get it into the bank, so they can have it tomorrow. And John’s like, “I don’t know, I’ll pray, see what happens.” So John hangs up the phone, walks out and checks his mailbox, and there’s a check in the mailbox for $1,000. Just amazing, amazing.
Church, that house, it really was, I would say it was the church, every penny, that the church had went into that discipleship house, and they handed it to us to be the stewards of. Things just started coming. Things would just start–whatever the needs were, whatever the guys needed, they would pray, and God would supply because the Lord was teaching them he was a good good father. And, and these guys, every single one of them, they had two things in common. They either had no father, or zero relationship with their father. And they had a praying mom or a praying grandmother. And so those two elements came together. And God started fathering these young men. And they started developing relationship. And we would teach them the Bible. We had a library that had all John’s seminary books from DTS. And so we taught them how to use them. And we would teach them how to do Bible studies and take these, take, take these tools, and learn how to get the meat out of things, learned how to study, learn the history, learn to understand what the Word of the Lord really says.
So they would come and they go through the events. And during that time, Debbie and I are praying, who does the Lord say that they are? Who does? What were they created for? What was their purpose? You know, God has a plan for their life, and what is it? And how are we to help them get to that point. But everyone that we accepted came in and from day one, they had trust. Yeah, they had trust, we lived in the same house with these guys. We didn’t look for background checks. We knew most of them had burned all their bridges. And their families would say, “You’re crazy for letting them in your house.” But from day one, our whole focus was–this is who you’re called to be. This is who you’re created to be. And never, “You’re a drug addict, you gotta quit thinking about drugs, you were a sinner, you gotta quit thinking about sin. It was more, get your mind on Christ. Change your focus. If you change your focus from the sin. And so many Christians are so sin focused that that’s where you’re going to go. You know, if you, if you’re riding a bike, and you’re looking off to the left, you’re going to veer off to the left. If you’re veering…looking to the right, you’re going to veer to the right. If you’re focused on Christ, you’re going to go to Christ. And if you if, if sin is your focus, you’re going to go to sin; it’s just going to happen. So we get their focus off the sin and onto Christ. And, and they’re calling–what they were called to be and getting them to hear God for themselves.
From day one, our whole focus was–this is who you’re called to be. This is who you’re created to be. And never–you’re a drug addict, you gotta quit thinking about drugs, you were a sinner, you gotta quit thinking about sin. It was more–get your mind on Christ.
That was the big one. The big part is hearing God for themselves. We did lots of quiet time, we did lots of prayer time together. Bible studies, like she said, we’re very intense.
At and this is 24/7 ministry, these people lived with us. So they saw the good, the bad, and the ugly. I mean, they just got us for who we were. And one of the amazing things was, and it was a real revelation for every guy that ever came in our house to eat at the dining room table. Nobody ever ate at their dining room tables growing up. People were spread out in living rooms with with the trays or whatever, but no one ever ate around the dining room table. There was no community, there was no …. So what we were doing was I mean, just basic building blocks, basic communication skills, basic levels of relationship. And so when we would have dinner around the dining room table, it would go for hours because the guys just loved the fellowship, loved the talking. There was just so much family that developed out of that place. That really was what it was. It was, it was family, and it was, it was the Father’s House. That was the name of it. I think there was a transition that had to happen in our spirit. We had to go from that place of feeling like servants, you know, yes, he’s our father. Yes, he’s a good good father. This is what His Word says. But there are mindsets that we have. And as long as we stay in that, that mindset of servant, which we are His servants, but when we transition to I am his child, and he is my father, something shifts, something changes, because then we’re able to receive the revelation. He’s my father, he takes care of us, you know, and that’s the greatest calling on a father’s life is that they will under, that they will be able to teach their children their identity, created in the image of God, not created in the image of themselves, that they’re able to give security, and that they’re able to, to provide and protect their children. And as we begin to come into that revelation of our true identity as his son, as his daughter, that he is the one that provides, he is the one that protects, he is the one that keeps us safe. He is our safety. When we transition into that. It’s like, there’s just the expectation, of course, you’re going to take care of us. You created us to be yours, you created us, you know. He’s a rewarder of those that seek Him. But that place of reward is that place of finding him–finding him. He’s he’s more than enough.
When it was time to sell the Father’s House, the day that the house sold, it sold in one day. It’s sold a cash sale in one day, when it was time to move. And the Lord had told us, you know, he tells us ahead of time, what he’s doing. And so we have positioned ourselves and just knew.
And we lived in that house all those years, never had anybody break in or anything. And there were times it was often unlocked. And and nobody ever tried to break into that house. They knew what it was. I believe the house was there for a purpose just for these guys. The Lord had that house saved and reserved just for them–these guys–so they can get their lives in order, just so he could touch their hearts. He gave them a home.
The interesting thing about that also is we lived there for 14 years. The last month when he told us to move, he said it’s time to sell the house and time to move. This is when I took over as being pastor and I was trying to figure out how to do both–be pastor and run the house at the same time. And Lord said, “No, we’re not gonna run the house, we’re gonna have to sell it and move.” And he gave us the price to ask and everything. We got that in a day in cash. And but the minute that he said move, it was like he lifted his hand of protection off that house and we could not get out of that house fast enough. People were coming on the property and taking everything that we owned. We had chairs around the pool and everything. They stole those, they stole pool equipment, they stole plastic chairs.