“When I wrote my book, Why Christians Get Sick, I wrote a note in the last chapter – it’s still there in print today,” Rev. Malkmus recalls. “It explains how I had a vision 20 years ago that someday, some way, this health message would go around the world.”
In celebration of Hallelujah Acres’ 20th anniversary — officially on February 12 —Health News magazine sat down in the HATV studio with the Malkmus family (Rev. George, Rhonda, Paul, and Ann) to reminisce about the vision of Hallelujah Acres and where it’s headed. Ironically, the father of that vision, George didn’t think it would come to fruition. “Although I wrote it, I didn’t have a lot of faith that it would actually happen,” he admits with his signature smile. Rhonda, sitting quietly in a corner of the HATV studio, grins and shakes her head in amazement. “Hallelujah Acres is way above anything we dreamed it would be,” she says. “And that’s because the vision George and I had for Hallelujah Acres was small compared to Paul’s vision.” George wholeheartedly concurs. “Many times we see a father build a ministry or a business and when the son takes over it doesn’t continue,” Rev. Malkmus shares. “But that’s not the case with Paul.”
Credited with super-sizing the vision of Hallelujah Acres, Paul is the first to admit that leading the mission was not always on his radar, if you will. He had a promising career in the US Air Force and plans firmly in place for a career after his retirement. Unbeknownst to him, his post-military plans would tie in nicely with God’s plans for him at Hallelujah Acres. “I had a great career in the Air Force as an instructor,” Paul explains. “And I had plans for business consulting once I got out of the military. I wanted to help businesses improve what they were doing as a ‘quality advisor.’” During his military service, Paul had also managed warehouses and had a passion for software development — all of these things, without his knowledge, would prepare him to take the helm at Hallelujah Acres.
“I had shared my post-military plans with Dad over the phone and within three days he arrived at my house in Florida asking me to be a part of Hallelujah Acres,” Paul remembers with a chuckle. As most sons can attest, working with his father was not something Paul was anxious to do. Never mind that Dad’s new venture involved promoting the diet that had caused Paul so much angst as a teen when George changed the family’s diet in 1976 to combat his colon cancer. But Paul could not ignore that he “saw opportunities everywhere” when George invited him to come and experience a few days at the Hallelujah Acres headquarters in Rogersville, Tennessee in the mid 1990s.
“Paul came up to one of our Health Minister trainings,” George explains. “And before we started the training, the people in attendance would share testimonies of how The Hallelujah Diet had changed their health and lives. As they were sharing, I looked to the back of the room, and there is Paul with tears in his eyes.”
That moment sealed Paul’s decision to retire early from the military to promote the life saving mission of Hallelujah Acres to a greater extent than George had ever planned. Retiring from the military early is not an easy thing to do, but again God came through. After every door had closed, a visiting general who had first denied Paul’s request to retire called him to say the papers had been signed and he was free to go. “When I asked him what changed his mind,” Paul says, “The general simply said, ‘it just seemed like the right thing to do.’”
When Paul began working with George, it soon became obvious that God had been preparing him for this role for many years. “I saw dramatic correlation between what I did in the military and what I was being asked to do at Hallelujah Acres,” he says.
Paul’s love for technology became one of the first and most important tools in expanding the reach of The Hallelujah Diet message. The first day he arrived, he brought a major software upgrade with him. A thousand miles away, a young mother named Ann would be one of the first to take advantage of that upgrade.
Ann was an Academic Dean of a college in the Midwest, so she understood the worldwide impact that a well-articulated health message could have. “I was a closet fan of Rev. Malkmus,” Ann giggles. “In the late 1990s I would go on The Hallelujah Acres website every day and read about people’ challenges and successes.” Nutritional study became an inseparable adjunct to her passion for teaching — the perfect attributes for a success Hallelujah Acres Health Minister. “When my children went on to college, I became a Health Minster and pursued my passion in health,” Ann explains. After hearing Rev. Malkmus’ message in a church in Ohio, she changed her diet and that of her two young girls, both under 10 at the time. Ann’s irritable bowel syndrome soon disappeared, as did her youngest daughter’s rheumatoid arthritis.
“To make a long story short, my passion as a Health Minister enticed Hallelujah Acres to hire me to work with other Health Ministers.” Red in the face, Paul admits that Ann was not his first choice for the job, but today he’s certainly glad she was chosen. After the two began working on projects together, they fell in love and were married in 2008.
“When I look at what Ann contributes to the team,” Paul says, “I see that the Lord has brought someone to Hallelujah Acres and into my personal life that can help propel the message of Hallelujah Acres past where I could take it myself. Even with George and Rhonda, Ann adds so much more to help us take it even further.” Like Paul, Ann shares a passion for technology’s ability to spread Hallelujah Acres’ message of hope and healing. “Working as a team, we can spread the message all over the world, in ways that no one could have imagined 20 years ago when Hallelujah Acres was born,” Ann says with Paul’s same visionary spunk.
Thanks to technology, as Paul points out, Hallelujah Acres can be more exacting with its message. “We used to make decisions based on what we perceived people’s needs to be. Now, we’re able to make decisions based on what people are asking for based on real time data from individuals themselves.” And with that comes the expanded vision for Hallelujah Acres that George and Rhonda could never imagine. “When I look 20 years from now,” Paul anticipates, “I see Hallelujah Acres as the global portal for the message that we share and for the support and education people need to stay healthy.” “I see it as the place where people form all over the world turn to in order to learn how to change their diet, and to help others change their diet. It’s all in one place.” With top-notch teams now established in every department and more technology-based methods to deliver the “Hallelujah” message than ever, Paul’s vision is taking shape. Hallelujah Acres can now, in his words, “reach its full potential.”
Confident in Paul’s plans for the future, George and Rhonda are making some plans of their own. “I told Rhonda, last year on my 77th birthday, that since we never had a honeymoon or a vacation since we started Hallelujah Acres 20 years ago, I wanted to start slowing down,” George says. “Not quitting,” he asserts, “Just slowing down.”
George and Rhonda are now enjoying the beaches of Florida part-time. But no matter where he is, George still wakes up at 4 am each morning to write his email-based Hallelujah Health Tip. And, of course, they both return to Hallelujah Acres to deliver George’s foundational “God’s Way to Ultimate Health” seminar on the first Saturday of every month. “I told Paul that we’ll do that until my 80th birthday and then we’ll re-evaluate,” he muses. “I don’t know what the future holds. But I know Who holds the future — Hallelujah!”