In this post we cover the history of Hallelujah Acres from 1992 until 1997, the year George and Rhonda moved the ministry from Tennessee to its current facility in Shelby, North Carolina.
Hallelujah Acres BeginningsA NOTE FROM GEORGE: As I reflect on what has transpired during the past 20 years, the words of that great Christian hymn come to mind: “To God be the glory, great things He has done.” I want to say that without God’s leading and help, Hallelujah Acres would not have become a reality. Man can only do so much, but when God is in it, all things are possible. Reflecting on those challenges, and final triumph, reminds me of the words of another great gospel song, written by Kittie Suffield in 1924 titled Little Is Much When God Is In It.
In the harvest field now ripened There’s a work for all to do; Hark the voice of God is calling, To the harvest calling you. Refrain: Little is much when God is in it! Labor not for wealth or fame, There’s a crown and you can win it, If you go in Jesus’ Name!
1992 – Hallelujah Acres Has Its Beginning
Shortly after Christmas 1991, Rhonda went into the antique mall George was managing, excited to tell him about a tiny restaurant that was closing its doors down the street. She said if they could rent the space George would have a place to sell health products and hold seminars. It sounded like a great idea... but neither of them had any money. So George went to the president of the local bank (with whom he had developed a friendship because he too had an interest in health and healthy living). He asked to borrow $1,000.
Using a 1986 Mazda pick-up truck as security he was able to obtain a loan. With that $1,000 they paid the first month’s rent of $50 then purchased tables, 16 chairs, used kitchen equipment, items for the dining room, and stocked their product on the shelves. Hallelujah Acres opened in that storefront on February 12, 1992 selling carrot juice by the glass and offering a limited vegetarian menu.
DID YOU KNOW? During this time George and Rhonda lived on tips of about $25.00 a week, while putting all profits back into paying off the loan and building inventory. To this day, they have never taken a salary, received a bonus, or been paid for a seminar or culinary class.
In those early days few frequented the restaurant in that little town of Rogersville, Tennessee. The town had a population of only 5,000 people and there was little nutritional awareness. Despite feeling discouraged, they started hosting a free “How to Eliminate Sickness” seminar on Saturday mornings in the restaurant.
DID YOU KNOW? Early customer names and contact information were handwritten on 3x5 index cards and kept in a shoebox.
People began coming to hear the health message, staying for lunch, and buying product. As people started applying what was being taught, testimonies started being shared with others and more joined. Before long it was standing room only in the seminars! The restaurant was being frequented by local businesspersons, judges from the next door courthouse, and the president of the bank had a standing order for daily carrot juice. Within a year of opening the doors of Hallelujah Acres, that 16-seat restaurant was no longer big enough. Plus, the basement of the restaurant was becoming too small to warehouse and ship the products that were now shipping across the country.
1993 – Hallelujah Acres Moves And Publishes A Magazine
In the spring of 1993 the original café moved down the street three doors to a 56-seat restaurant; the opening was so busy people had to be turned away! Soon seminars filled the restaurant with people coming from across America and sometimes even another country.
This same year we also published the first issue our paper publication, Back to the Garden. The first issue was two colors, eight pages, and we had 3,000 copies printed. Today, this publication is called the “Hallelujah Acres Health News,” has 48 full color pages and is read by a half-million people bi-monthly. This magazine has been a free publication ever since we started publishing it in 1993 — and it is still free to read online today from anywhere in the world! The paper version is also available to US and Canadian residents through an annual subscription.
1994 – Hallelujah Acres Moves Again
After two years ministering in Rogersville, George and Rhonda decided to close the restaurant and go on the road to reach many more people with the message “You Don’t Have to be Sick!”
Hallelujah Acres moved to the 50-acre farm property and home on Clinch Mountain in Eidson, Tennessee owned by George and Rhonda. They built a building to house the ministry and George started doing seminars across America. No sooner had that first ministry building been completed than it too was outgrown!
Construction began on a much larger second ministry building where they held the first Saturday-of-the-month “You Don’t Have to be Sick” seminars. George was gone a great part of the time while Rhonda was overseeing the ministry operation in Tennessee, which was also growing in leaps and bounds. It was time to expand the team.
1994 – First Health Minister Training
People were adopting The Hallelujah Diet and becoming well from all kinds of physical problems. These people began asking for a course on how to share God's health message with others. As a result, in August 1994 they held the first Health Minister Training with 25 in attendance. The new ministry building was not completed and not having sufficient finances to purchase chairs, that first group of Health Ministers sat on 2x10 wood planks resting on concrete blocks. There were no windows yet and the floor wasn’t even finished!
To say the least, it was a very humble beginning for a health ministry which today numbers over 10,000 trained Health Ministers located in every state in the U.S. and in 48 foreign lands. Attending that first training was Olin Idol who joined Rev. Malkmus in 1995 as a personal assistant, and has been with Hallelujah Acres ever since. Dr. Rowen Pfeifer was also in that first training, along with Bev and Chet Cook, who later opened the first Hallelujah Acres first Lifestyle Center in Lake Lure, North Carolina and currently direct all Lifestyle Centers.
1995 – Rev. Malkmus Appears On 700 Club & Publishes 2nd Book
By this time, Graeme Coad, who at the time was Chaplin of the 700 Club, had reversed his terminal prostate cancer on The Hallelujah Diet. Graeme was instrumental in getting Rev. Malkmus on the 700 Club for a nine-minute interview with Pat Robertson. That nine-minute interview generated more response than the 700 Club had ever had. That television exposure caused a tremendous increase in interest in The Hallelujah Diet. Since then Rev. Malkmus has appeared on ABC Nightline, all major TV networks, Trinity Broadcasting, The Food Network, Fox News (3 times) and the Jim Baker show.
God's Way To Ultimate Health Published
Rev. Malkmus' second book, God’s Way to Ultimate Health has everything a person needs to know about how to return to God's original plan for nourishing the human body. The book contains 279 pages of vital information and real-life testimonies - a book that many people say saved their lives. Over a quarter million copies of this book are now in print.
DID YOU KNOW? Also in 1995, Destiny Image took over the printing and distribution of his first book Why Christians Get Sick. Over a million copies of this book are now in print and are available in several languages!
1996 – Rev. Malkmus Holds Seminars Across America
By 1996, so many churches across America were wanting the hear God’s health message that Reverend Malkmus traveled across America holding “How to Eliminate Sickness” seminars.
I remember doing 17 seminars in 18 days in Texas on one of those speaking tours.
Some of these seminars had attendances of over 1,000 people. These seminars took place from Florida to Texas, up the west coast, across the fruited plains, the northern states from Wisconsin to New England, and down the eastern seaboard.
1997 – Hallelujah Acres Goes Online
Not many people had access to the internet as yet, but George and Rhonda realized it provided the potential to reach people around the world with the Hallelujah Acres message. They thought about what the URL should be:
We thought of “HallelujahAcres.com” but knew if they had to spell “Hallelujah” they would never gain access. So we just used the letter “H” for “Hallelujah” and ended up with www.hacres.com.
They also began publishing a FREE weekly electronic Health Tip. There were not many subscribers in those early days, but as more and more people gained access to the internet subscriptions steadily increased. George personally wrote the weekly electronic Health Tips, usually between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. most mornings.
1997 – Hallelujah Acres Moves To North Carolina
The ministry — located on a mountaintop in Tennessee, on a dirt road, very difficult to find and far from an interstate or airport — was running out of room and there was no more buildable land on that mountaintop. So George and Rhonda started a search for a new location.
A businessman from Shelby, North Carolina attended one of the seminars in Tennessee and shared that he had a building in Shelby that he owned that would be perfect for the ministry. It had been built for a Christian school, which had closed its doors and become the campus of Ambassador College. Ambassador College had outgrown the facility, so now it was available and the location was ideal!
Bud Mims, the owner, knew that they didn’t have much financially to purchase the building so he allowed George and Rhonda to move into the building while he held the mortgage and allowed them to pay as finances allowed. It was only 45 minutes from the Charlotte international airport and within an hour or less drive of four interstate highways. Shelby was small enough to have the small town appeal without a lot of traffic, but large enough to provide all basic needs and less than an hour away from Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina. They turned the gym into a 400-seat auditorium, the classrooms into offices for rapidly expanding staff, the basement into warehousing of product and shipping, two of the offices were combined to create a call center, and the library became the home of the storefront operations. Hallelujah Acres moved into the new facility on November 1, 1997.
On February 4, 2012, at my first-Saturday-of-the-month “God’s Way to Ultimate Health” seminar here at Hallelujah Acres, we celebrated the ministry's 20th Anniversary! In addition to the seminar, we had so many special things planned for that day, including a vegan cake that was enjoyed by all!Next week, the good Lord willing and if the creeks don’t rise too high, we will pick up where we leave off here with the move to Shelby, North Carolina. We will share how Hallelujah Acres grows in its new location and begins to build a village. Join us next week as we continue to share the rest of the Hallelujah Acres story.