House of Decision
The House of Decision is a discipleship home for women and their children. We have been in operation since 1997, housing over 4,000 women and children since opening. Our nine acre ranch is located in semi-rural Cherry Valley, CA.
We encourage everyone to grow in a heartfelt relationship with God. We make it clear that the Bible is the only book that comes with the Author and He eagerly desires to walk and talk with us on our journey. Our home is Person-driven, not rule-driven, or fear-driven, or black ink-driven. Our desire is that when our graduates leave the ranch they will continue living honoring to God because their hearts personally chose to while living on the ranch.
We major on our living in oneness with Christ. “Two cannot walk together unless they be agreed.” Amos 3:3 What He loves, we love. What grieves His heart, grieves our hearts. The oneness Jesus prayed for in John 17. We hope our love for Christ to mature to answer His questioning, “Do I love Me?” with “Do I love You? I have become You!”
As we grow in our walk with Christ, He will order the rest of our lives in a manner that will bring complete peace and purpose.
First we grow in oneness with Christ, then we take His love to grow in oneness with those around us. We become Jesus with “skin on,” absolutely loving our lives.
We believe that when we understand the love of God and then submit to His leading, He will then restore our lives. We actively study the Word of God for His general wisdom and practice listening prayer to learn His specific direction for our lives.
Along with many Bible studies to encourage spiritual growth, we offer biblical counseling, parenting skills, financial guidance, pursuit of higher education, and career development.
We take in women from all walks of life. Some have suffered through a painful divorce, a physical problem or accident, an addiction (we are not a detox program), battered, widowed, job loss, etc. Our residents must desire to grow in their walk with God and leave the things that destroyed their lives behind, as well as any addictive substance, including smoking.
We do not charge, so lack of money is not an issue for being accepted. If a woman has an income we ask that she pray about blessing the House to help pay utilities, along with meeting their other financial personal responsibilities. Nor do we require anyone to do any fundraising, allowing the women to have ample time to work on the issues in their lives that need addressing.
The length of stay varies, averaging around six to nine months. When the women continue to honor God with their lives and are attending college or a certificated program, we do our best to house them for longer periods.
House of Opportunity
The House of Opportunity is a discipleship home for men, providing them many opportunities to fulfill God’s call on their lives. The men participate in early morning Bible studies, journaling, private Bible study time, counseling, and classes directly related to overcoming addictions.
In time, typically after two or three months, we encourage the men to find employment or attend school. We highly encourage trade schools to obtain a certificate in a field of their liking. Since the men are not required to fundraise, they have time to pursue opportunities to restore their lives and families. A portion of their week is spent maintaining our nine acres and eight buildings.
Paul writes in Second Timothy 2:2 about “faithful men who will be able to teach other faithful men.” We invest our lives in those that illustrate a commitment to follow Christ with their lives. We believe God is “easy to please, hard to satisfy.” We praise small steps of growth while encouraging still greater spiritual maturity.
The men’s home operates primarily under the authority of a group of five men ( called the “round table”) that make decisions on how best to run the home, as well as discipline. We are Spirit-led, not law-driven. Since we are relatively small, the “round table” has opportunity to deal personally with each man to meet the needs in his life.
“Learning to live in oneness with Christ.”
Bjorn Stavness | Founder
How Both Homes Operate
As God teaches us new truths, our methods of ministry are always evolving. What has never changed is our desire for our residents to focus on growing closer in their walk with Christ, to be Christ-driven, not to be rule or program driven. Their focus must not be simply to graduate in order to feel like they have accomplished something or prove to others how good they are doing, having obeyed all the rules. It must be to yield to the Holy Spirit’s voice, desiring to obey Christ to please His heart.
Being relatively small, about 40 on campus, and with a considerable amount leadership, we deal with each person individually in regard to whether their hearts are truly desiring to yield to Christ, or simply looking for a comfortable place to live until something better comes along. If they violate one of our policies we pray before we decide how to discipline. “What does God want us to do to teach the person?” Not, “They broke one of our rules, how dare they treat us with such disrespect. They must go to teach the others to stay in line.”
Many times men and women will “lean on the arm of the flesh” instead of God. Women often choose to live with a man simply because he has a place to stay. They turn a blind eye to what will happen to them or their children, which is often tragic. Men can’t wait to get back into a good paying job to restart their lives and feel as though they are successful. To model not leaning on the arm of the flesh, God put it on our hearts to trust Him to meet our needs, not solicit for funds.
When we have a need, we pray. For over twenty-two years God has met our needs. Not a penny from the government, nor selling candy, nor standing in front of Walmart, nor car-washes, nor putting on fundraising dinners, etc. Our desire is to turn our disciples into givers, to trust in God to meet their needs. Not to teach them another way to be a taker.
Since we never require anyone to fundraise, they are able to spend more time pursuing their relationship with God and blessing others in our community in need. We emphasize teaching them to walk out what God has worked in because they want to, not have to. We know that if they are making Godly decisions solely out of fear of being exited, then they will stop making those decisions when they do leave, regardless of how long they are on the ranch.
As stated, if we have a need, we pray. However, if someone initiates the conversation about support, or we know they have already expressed a kindred-heart, we then speak of our needs to give them an opportunity to give as God has already put on their hearts. God has never let us down. We keep our monthly overhead low (less than $7,000 total costs a month to house and feed about 50 people) by operating debt free, with no salaries.
There are many months that our repair costs (broken transmission, roof repair, etc.) drive our expenses well over the $7,000 monthly fixed costs. Amazingly, God has always lead His people to meet those unexpected costs.
To help our residents grow spiritually they attend daily Bible studies, keep journals, use workbooks, attend a couple of church services of their choosing in our community on weekends, attend Celebrate Recovery, receive counseling, and watch teaching and worship videos.
A recent major change in operations was to incorporate listening prayer into our weekly routine. On Sunday in our ranch chapel service we give a Biblical message, addressing real life issues and also prepping the group for the question of the week to ask God. We have built small prayer booths that look like miniature country churches (aka the “truth booth”) to use as their prayer closet. During the week everyone gets alone with God to ask and listen to His response. They write down His answers.
Typically, for the first couple of days it is natural for our own answer to the weekly question to keep popping up in our minds. Then, and sometimes while doing something else, God’s answer becomes clear. He speaks in so many different ways and when someone realizes they can hear from God, they get excited. Then, on Friday morning, in their respective groups, everyone shares what God showed them.
This sharing time ranks as the most sincere, vulnerable, and spiritually productive time of the week. We don’t only give them a fish, we teach them to fish…to experience Jesus here and now.