Rivers of Eden Ministry

The Vision & The Revelation

In 1998, God breathed this ministry into my life while on a plane 30,000 feet up in the air, flying from Atlanta to the San Francisco Bay Area. Rivers of Eden is a ministry birthed in the heart of God and graciously given to Marvin and myself for such a time as this.

Genesis 2:10-14 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

Rivers of Eden flows from the Garden of the Lord, flowing out from the Tree of Life, Christ Jesus. Today, these rivers of life flow from our lives in ministry – Christ is in us, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27); we are in union in Christ (1 Cor. 6:17). Jesus as the Tree of Life is the source of life for us.

The four rivers are:

Pishon – ‘flowing freely’
Gihon – ‘stream’
Hiddekel – ‘rapidly running water’
Euphrates – ‘rushing forth’

The number 4 indicates ‘universality’.

All together, this is significant for us because it means that we will bring the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ in the power of Holy Spirit throughout the world, bringing people into the revelation of His grace and glory.

In Christ, we live, move and have our being. These rivers, flowing in abundance and grace, flow forth with life out of our bellies as living water. (John 7:38)

 Debra & Marvin Westbrook – Our Lives

From its revelation in 1998 to the present time, Rivers of Eden has been growing, slowly, surely, obscurely, hidden for the most part, but nonetheless known by God and carried within my life.

Over the years, Marvin and I have walked through seasons of brokenness, healing, restoration, dryness, rejection, and more to learn a valuable lesson. Surrender. Surrender to Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life, to His will and to His ways so that He is glorified in our lives.

Holy Spirit leads and directs us on our path throughout the earth in ministry, into places where God has destined us to be. Our lives are sourced in Christ.

(If interested, please read Our Timeline to become acquainted with our life’s journey over the years.)

Colossians 1:27-29 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

Our Mandate & Our Mission

Our passion is to raise up a people who will live, move and have their being in Christ, as His creative expression in the earth today. In other words, we are all unique, individual in Christ, and corporately placed in His Body to display His grace and His glory through our lives. Whether that be preaching, educating, parenting, administrating, being in business, flowing in the arts, musical, artistic – each of us live in creative expression in the Lord, not as robots or clones.

Our passion:

  • Equipping people – preaching and teaching through the lens of grace in a New Covenant reality while honoring the whole Word of God as it points to Jesus Christ.
  • Flowing in the power of Holy Spirit through prophecy, revelation, words of wisdom, words of knowledge as it builds up, encourages and exhorts the Body of Christ.
  • Demonstrating the power of the Gospel through laying hands on the sick and bringing deliverance and freedom to God’s people.

466987_385067658200058_340338782_oIn Christ,
Debra & Marvin Westbrook

See Clearly – Hear Clearly – Speak Clearly – It’s Time!

cropped-soundwave-21.jpgThe world right now is in a chaotic state – filled with wars, violence and an insidious nebulous tolerance of just about anything, elevating the prevailing cultural norm to that which is justifiably right and good, just because it makes an individual feel good or makes one happy and comfortable. People seem to be following the desires of their hearts, following belief systems that are raised up in their own hearts, making them feel good, safe and comfortable.

To stand firm in truth, in Christ, one may be relegated into a place of irrelevance because it does not line up with what is trending as popular thought. Christians can be seen as irrelevant, archaic and out of touch.

In my own life, I sense a passion for Christ to define me, refine me – moving me onto His path of light, life and love. This path is clear and I walk on it aligned with Jesus being the way, the truth and the life. I can’t bear the thought of being nebulous, going with the flow, or just floating along in life. It is a new day for me.

Proverbs 29:18
If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed. The Message

Proverbs 29:18
Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law. NKJV

It is time to be strengthened, formed, and aligned in Christ so that He may make our path straight and clear. Many may not understand me. That’s okay – Jesus Himself proved to be quite the enigma at times, yet He listened to the sound of heaven and followed its call. So shall I.

My vision – My life – And, my need to speak it forth – Now!

cropped-cropped-shutterstock_38863681-11.jpgHere’s my Timeline (as clear and concise as I can be) concerning my Christian life, Rivers of Eden – my past and my future in God’s hands.

1988- Started my life in Christ – drawn out from the world in my 30’s – not religious and unable to play any Christian games. Since then, through all the ups and downs, I have not turned from Jesus for He is my life. It has not always been easy. At times, this walk proved to be hard and impossible without His grace and strength to sustain me.

1989 – THE VISION

One day, while praying in my family room in Benicia, CA. this vision came alive as I was transported to another place in the Spirit.

I was standing on a map of the USA, with my feet firmly planted in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is my home and dear to my heart. It was dark over the States – not just dark but pitch black. I looked up and looked east, to the East Coast. Suddenly, I saw rising up from the ocean a huge tidal wave, a tsunami that rose without warning. It rose up with strength over the state of New York and proceeded to rise higher and higher as it covered the USA. I could not determine if I should be fearful and run for my life or if I should just stand still. His grace placed me in this position, so I stood, watching it draw closer and closer.

cropped-cropped-photo2.jpgIt then landed at my feet, right at my feet. At that point, this gigantic wave proceeded to roll back over this dark land, and in the wake of the water, I saw diamonds stretched out as far as the eye could see, all over the country. I watched as they were unveiled, bright and shining, in the midst of perverse darkness. I then heard the voice of the Lord say two things to me:

“Follow in the wake of the anointing, going where I tell you to go, speaking what I tell you to speak, and trusting me with your life.”

And then I heard:

“No man will lay the foundation of the ministry I give to you by My Spirit.”

At this point, I was newly saved and had no ministry. I was definitely a newbie. That vision forms the foundation of my life to this day, never leaving me. To this day it is as clear as the day that I stood in my family room.

(Stay with me okay? Some of you may be involved in Rivers of Eden one day. Perhaps. Or this may be good for many of you trying to follow the vision God placed in you. You may need to go back and look carefully at your own timeline)

1990-1995 – Growing up in Christ

Over these years, several great churches contributed to my growth. I honor the pastors for being patient with my zeal and such great men and women of God along the way, who helped me grow.

I served at Church on the Hill, and after a few years began to teach Bible studies, lead prayer groups and more. It was full on Church and I loved it because I was hungry.

1991 – Traveled to Ivory Coast for Missions.

1992 – Traveled to Russia and Ukraine for Missions

1994 – Left Church on the Hill and for the next 18 months, helped a pastor start a new church in the Mission District of San Francisco. Twice a week or more, we traveled from Contra Costa County into The City, fulfilling a commitment God placed on our hearts to serve. Our pastor’s passion was evangelism, so we weekly trekked throughout San Francisco – the Mission District, Noe Valley – handing out tracts and talking to many diverse and creative people, most of whom rejected our message BUT we persevered. I became stronger and wiser in the process.

1995- 2000 – Leadership

1995-2000 – Associate Pastor, Lighthouse Covenant Fellowship, Benicia Ca. Our multicultural church was made up of African-Americans, Caucasians, a few Hispanics, some Filipinos and others. In its diversity, I learned deep life lessons about overcoming racism, along with everyone else. Sometimes it worked and we smiled. Sometimes it did not, our hearts were exposed and we cried. It was all good. My life lessons were abundant through all my mistakes and my successes.

As the associate pastor, I preached regularly, taught, developed a strong prophetic team and altar ministry, administrated and also created cell groups. When Pastor Sam was not in the house, I, along with Ben, administrated the church in different ways.

2000- the present

After 5 years of denominational leadership, God told Marvin and I to start something outside the walls of the norm. So, we left the church and started focusing on Rivers of Eden, the ministry God breathed into my life in 1998. Here are a few highlights over these years.

Traveled with a few intercessors to Detroit, MI, Syracuse, NY, Sioux Falls, ND, Miami, FL, Wichita, KA, Harrisburg, PA, Raleigh, NC and Phoenix, AZ to pray, walk, declare and watch Holy Spirit work as we moved out in faith in these cities. This was raw faith for me and I loved it. I saw glorious things happen during this time. Holy Spirit led us to places to meet people to deliver a word of prophecy or word of knowledge. We laid hands on the sick and walked in a measure of God’s power. These were Holy Spirit journeys. I plan to do more in the future.

God broadened my horizons with a promotion. If I were faithful to move out in the States, He now would send me overseas to many places, in faith.

Walking in the snow2001 – Sitting in our living room, three of us praying, Holy Spirit said, “Go to Helsinki, Finland.” A few months later, we hopped a plane, landed in Helsinki and prayed throughout the nation for two weeks. We traveled all the way up to Oulu, where we stayed with some great people. Not bad, considering previous to this time I knew nothing about Finland. To make a long story short, from that initial visit, I branched out quite a bit in my desire to move in Holy Spirit and to travel to the nations. I preached in many churches, 2 Lutheran conferences, and hosted Rivers of Eden prophetic conferences over the years. We rented three different apartments and obtained a residence visa, good till 2015 – Finland became my second home. I miss it and I love it still.

Simultaneously, in addition to traveling back and forth to Finland from 2001 to the present, we also ministered extensively throughout Kenya (Kitale, Nairboi, Webuye, Eldoret and more) and built a small team to work alongside for many years. This time constituted a lot of travel between California and the nations, but I loved loved it.

Abu Dhabi Skyline

Abu Dhabi Skyline

Then alongside these travels, God surprised us and Marvin’s job landed us in Abu Dhabi from 2006-2010. So from that central location, we traveled throughout the UAE, Oman, and Bahrain and to Egypt.

2011 – Back to California to deal with Marvin’s retirement.

2012 – Moved back to Helsinki for one year

2013 to now– Southern California

This is my life in a nutshell. Why am I writing this? Several reasons. I am writing to make the vision for my life clear to others and me for future opportunities. After many years of intense breaking, deep rejection, incredible disappointment and more, I cannot listen to the lies of the enemy anymore, lies that try to seal my future by the failures of the past.

I have hit the highlights but I don’t have time to tell you all of the intricacies of those years. Trust me, during these years there were lots going on which caused great sadness along with great joy in my life.

In 2010, in the Middle East, Marvin and I physically entered the desert and spiritually entered the desert, lasting up until just recently. Ministry basically stopped as God set us aside for restoration, growth, healing amidst great brokenness in our lives. We felt like failures, useless and alone until God’s grace and great love began to set us free. This is where we are today in Southern California, alive with a clear vision and great revelation. We actually don’t know why we are here but time will tell whether we stay or move out. We are obedient to go where we feel God leads us. In any case, God is faithful and we wait for the next step in our journey. More coming……….lots more.

Debra and ChloeIn Christ,
Debra

A Beautiful Birth!

“How can you expect people to empower what you will not expose? How will it be named, funded, discovered if it is not exposed?” TD Jakes

As I said in yesterday’s blog, I know, deep inside me, there is a sense of destiny and greatness. I can feel it stirring within me, like a baby kicking. It’s been so long that I feel wayyyyyy over due. I want to get this baby out. What do I do? I want to be in sync with Jesus and Holy Spirit, relying on their strength to birth at this time. What do I DO?

‘Do’ seems to be a negative word in Christian circles. Christians DO a lot, through self-effort, performance, pleasing people, or following the latest movement or trend. ‘Do’ can imply works based on the flesh or someone trying to get ahead to be something by doing something. So, word after word comes forth of being still, just being, basking, or soaking in His love. It’s all good but I want to DO – now. It’s time. Spiritual birth is accompanied by God-given strength to DO. This baby comes with pain and lots of pushing.

With Brave Wings, She FliesSupernatural life, as a seed of destiny, planted inside me years ago by God is now time to come forth and come out. Being for years – months and years of waiting, pregnant with possibility, carrying revelation, ideas, and creativity – thinking, praying – being. Year after year,  I look down and see life stirring in me. I can’t deny it any longer. I have to accept this reality of destiny and calling, despite what others think, say or feel. It is now undeniable, as my ‘spiritual belly’ has gotten so big. It’s time to bear down and from this place of being pregnant; there is now work to be done in the process of birthing. I invite all of you into this process today.

Call the midwife. Wait? What? Holy Spirit is here. And, so is Jesus and the Father. They’ve been here all along through the pain all these years, often silently watching and waiting as this spiritual baby grew inside of me. This is an appointed time for this – God’s perfect timing. Now. Today.

The precious Holy Spirit, coming alongside me to carry me through this delivery. In this place of birth, there arise memories of pain and heartache and lost time from seasons past, but there’s not time to think about that now. Contractions are increasing and birth is near. Who has time to relive past mistakes now? I am pregnant with possibility, but it takes work to bring this baby forth, with lots of pain, blood, mess and a myriad of emotions.

Einstein WomenThe present is now and the contractions are here. There is no alternative but to push. You see, I can’t DO this without the supernatural help of the Lord. And, He’s right here with me, every step of the way.

With each contraction, there comes a burst of pain. It is necessary. Beauty is birthed in pain to bring forth this spiritual baby. I know the name. God gave me the name. Rivers of Eden Ministry, years ago in 1997. It’s been a long long time. I carried this promise for so long that I intimately know everything about Rivers of Eden but I am still unable to verbalize its reality until I see its beauty and grace. Until I look at it upfront and personal, seeing it as a gift from God to me.

At this time, so close, the lies still try to invade this holy place of birth as a last-ditch effort to immobilize me with fear, discouragement, and disillusionment. They say:

“It will be stillborn. It won’t stand a chance.”

“You’ll die in the process and then what?”

“Even if Rivers of Eden is born, don’t you remember the past? All those mistakes. Oh yeah the anger, the wounds in your life. Remember who you were? Remember who you are? Don’t think that people will forget.”

Don’t you know that the enemy never gives up, never? Yet, alongside these voices of accusation comes a voice like no other. A voice so still, so serene and so beautiful that my focus is averted from the lies to the truth of my life in Christ.

Psalm 139:13-16
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God––you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration––what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day

 Here it is – “Strength to Birth.”

At this moment of being so bottomed out, so weary, so discouraged, unbelieving, without reputation, finances, honor – rejected by many, misunderstood and invisible. I need strength and have found it in Christ. Right here. Right now.

This is the month. The 9th month – September AND quite gloriously, the exact month that my children, Ryan and Kristen were born. Don’t ever think that God is not in the details.

‘Push.” Christ in me, the hope of glory – my being. His creative purpose in Rivers of Eden Ministry in my life – my doing. Both work side by side in His glorious grace and mercy. Bear down. Push and out comes this baby. It is time. Now.

So what does this baby look like? After years of carrying this vision within my spiritual being………..what does it look like? Rivers of Eden Ministry – I’ll share more with you soon. This is my life in Christ. I simply can’t do things any other way than creatively and so this blog comes forth. To deny the essence of my life in Christ is death to the vision God has placed inside of me. Creative expression – to gaze upon His beauty and to reflect His glory AND to impart that truth into the lives of others all over the world.

Yes, I can write things out in a more reasonable, understandable format where those more analytical than myself would understand but then, I would cease to be me. I want those outside the box, those who color outside the lines and think outside the norm. I am stretching way out on a limb here, trusting my inner feelings on a blog where many will critique, pass judgment, or disdain me, trying to keep me where they want me to be. Well, that won’t work because I am changed inside. There is nothing to prove and nothing to lose. Just me.

Debra and ChloeIn Christ,
Debra

Strength To Birth

Blue GlobeTurning – this blog is turning. This week I’ll impart a sense of turning as I write. I believe many reading this are walking the same path as Marvin and I. Will you follow me on this journey of life?

I’m looking at the horizon – a sense of purpose stretches out before me. My path is ordered in Christ in Holy Spirit. How to start? God always seems to put audio messages, You Tube videos, books and other things into my life when I need to hear something specific. When I listen, the message grabs me as if it is spoken to me alone. Life flows into my spirit as I listen to the words being spoken, images shown or music flowing. They reach deep into my being with a life all their own. Jesus says it this way.

John 6:63
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

He speaks and His words are life – to us. And……He speak through many different venues, in diverse and creative ways……..to each of us.

Instinct, a book by TD Jakes is life to me in this season. I listened to this online message over and over and over.

The message of my life is intertwined with the ministry that God is birthing within me, Rivers of Eden. (More on that in the coming week.) I am a walking message, filled with His life and glory, the creative expression of Christ. This is how He creates His life through me, and also through each of you. I listened to TD Jakes as He said:

“You are called to BE the highest and best expression of who you are created to be (in Christ).”

That has been my spiritual mandate for years. Yet, while deep inside I knew it, I did not adequately believe it. So, for years we have ministered in lack – lack of finances, lack of ministry, and a deep down lack of belief tha this ministry is in Jesus Christ. I see that now.

Another great quote from Jakes:

“People have attached to you their own need and you have morphed yourself to respond to these needs and circumstances. It now takes times to find out who you are again. Who are you apart from the applause, the approvals or the indictments (and rejections)? In the second half of your life, do YOU.”

Then here it came……….”You need the strength to birth again.”

Those words shot through me like a sword, dividing lies from truth to conquer my heart – all the lies I believed, all the wasted time, all the control, the dead ends….I am tired.

Too tired to birth, yet carrying a spiritual baby within my being. I need strength to birth again.

What if I flyWhat keeps me from bearing down and giving birth? I believe I finally get it. The pain of the past, the experiences, all the crap enhanced with lies from the enemy, pummel my life on a daily basis. “You are a fraud and once they see who you really are, you are nothing.” That tormented my soul for years, somehow believing that despite what God placed in me, due to years of mistakes, I am now disqualified.

In feeling disqualified, I did not actually believe or expose the greatness, creativity and anointing of my Lord through my life. I shut down and then wondered why I was invisible or forgotten. The bottom line, when realized, is simple to understand.

If I don’t expose what I have inside of me, what I am called to do for Christ in this life, then how will anyone know, truly know me and Rivers of Eden?

“How can you expect people to empower what  you will not expose? In order to expose what you have inside of you, you’ve got to believe what He put down deep inside of you.”

First and foremost, the revelation of Christ in me, the hope of glory, is growing within my being. Flowing out, it flows in a ministry named Rivers of Eden, the ministry God will birth through myself and Marvin and a team that joins up with us as we go to the nations in this new season. I can say that in faith now, realizing that when God begins a good work in you, He will complete it.

This is the exact season for me. Thinking that I was invisible and forgotten, I denied the very God who loves me and calls me, fulfills His dream in and through my life. I see. My eyes are open and I see.

Life is calling me out…….I don’t have the full picture but the horizon is in view and I am walking…………I feel strength within me to birth. There is so much more coming forth. Enjoy!

10511315_794327653940721_886065626280149819_nIn Christ,
Debra Westbrook

To Infinity and Beyond

TD Jakes – whenever I want to be motivated and kicked in the butt with a challenge, I listen to TD Jakes. He has the innate ability and anointing to express, with great love, the need to look at oneself and change, accepting all my imperfections and failures and KNOW – God is indeed good, very very very good. My quote of the week:

“Don’t write the memoirs of pain and agony, writing from the REAR VIEW window.” TD Jakes

Rear View Mirror SkySo, here it is. One day before we actually do the pack up and move – I feel great. It is not a ‘great’ that is motivated by false assumptions or vain imaginations of what could be based on fear. It is a ‘great’ that is filled with the reality of how good and faithful God is.

I can’t look in the rear view mirror any more. Gazing at the past with some sorrow, great disillusionment, and deep discouragement at times. This woman is moving on. It has been so busy that despite my love of blogging, I found time itself to be at a premium with the move. So, I did not sit down to write BUT I have so much stirring in me that next week, revelation and thoughts and stuff will be coming your way.

It’s time to move past blogging angst – writing of pain, sorrow, disillusionment, etc. I know that may help people at times but what helps more is a revelation of Jesus Christ and the truth in His promises to us. No writing about unanswered questions that still remain unanswered – done. Moving on past blogging about the pain, the anger, and the sorrow. Moving into Christ and the hope that fills me with such expectation that I can hardly breathe at times. Moving with Christ into a future that is promised to me because He is faithful to complete what He started in me. Moving through revelation that helps me walk day by day, one step at a time into adventure and challenge and LIFE, unedited.

Where have I been these past years? Trying to be everything to everybody. I was whooping and hollering along with TD Jakes all the way from Ventura to Valencia last night. Amening and believing it 100% – accepting the reality of my life in Christ.

Rear View MirrorI used to be filled with passion and positivity and great faith. When I found myself talking more about my past, I realized that something in me stalled and died. When I realized that I blogged about the intricacies of introspection, I realized that is not always the way I want to go. As a mother, grandmother and daughter of the King, my job is to love you and to challenge many of you to keep moving. These blogs will not always sound oooshy and gooshy with love, but they will sound forth with love that is solid and believes in the reality of Christ within a person to live in an abundant life, despite any outward circumstances that drag one down.

Like TD says (paraphrasing here) – you can live in the ghetto but you don’t have to think like the ghetto. I have not lived in any ghetto but I lived in a prison in my own mind that limited and restricted me to the opinions of others along with the guilt and condemnation that comes from the past.

When we leave Valencia tomorrow, it’s almost September, the 9th month – a birthing month. For me, spiritual birthing. That could explain why I have been in a bad mood for the past 5 years. I am carrying a baby that is long overdue to be birthed. I found my birthing room in Christ, outside the walls, outside of institutional Christianity, at least for now. There is spiritual significance in the move taking place right now. I will not be looking in the rear view mirror any more. When I do that, I can’t see the future.

Buzz LightyearSometimes when I want to detox from all the crap that comes with being an adult, I watch Disney – Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Madagascar and more. Okay, I do it a lot, not just sometimes.  There’s something that brings you into the beauty of reality when you look through the eyes of a child. This kept coming to mind today. “To infinity and beyond.”  Would you believe the Holy Spirit brought this one to me? God is indeed very very good. My trajectory is changed, catapulting into the great unknown,  infinitely filled with possibilities in Christ. It’s all good. Enjoy the next season of this journey with me.

In Christ,
Debra Westbrook