In last week’s Health Tip I shared how God used what appeared to be a tragedy in my life – a colon cancer diagnosis in 1976 – to birth a ministry known today as “Hallelujah Acres.” The late Paul Harvey used to say: “Now for the rest of the story.” In this Health Tip I want to pick up where we left off last week with how God used a change in diet to eliminate my cancer and restore health to my body by sharing how additional events in my life ultimately led to the starting of a health ministry we today call Hallelujah Acres. I want to begin by sharing another verse in the Bible that had great bearing in the development of the Hallelujah Acres ministry. This verse is found in Galatians 6:9:
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if WE FAINT NOT.”On July 4, 1976 the church I was pastoring held a huge 4th of July service in a downtown theater in Glens Falls, New York. It was attended by over 500 people. Immediately after that service, I got in my car and drove to Blue Ridge, Georgia where for several weeks I sat under the teachings of Dr. Carry Rheams. I was already on the Genesis 1:29 diet, had already learned a lot about the body and its ability to heal itself and had already experienced significant healing. But I had a hunger to learn more about diet and lifestyle. From Dr. Rheams I learned how to help detoxify the body with lemon juice, and rebuild the body with raw, green drinks. By 1977 I was well and still pastor of the Greater Glens Falls Bible Baptist Church in Hudson Falls, New York. It was around this time it dawned on me that the healing I had experienced by a simple diet and lifestyle change could also help other Christians recover from their physical problems. I wanted to share that information.
First On My List: Fellow PreachersI started taking this healing knowledge to fellow preachers. To say the least, it was not received well! In fact, fellow preachers didn’t receive what I had to share about a changed diet any better than they had received Evangelist Lester Roloff’s efforts to change their diets and lifestyles years earlier. I started to get discouraged. I knew I had a health message based on God’s original diet as given by God Himself in Genesis 1:29. I knew that it could eliminate most sicknesses from the Christian community but no one would listen. In 1978 I left the church I had established in 1970 and obtained a job as lecturer and head gardener at the Shangri La Health Resort in Bonita Springs, Florida where I remained until 1980. This was a Natural Hygiene Fasting Resort and while there I had opportunity to listen to many Natural Hygiene doctors and learned so much more about how diet affects our health.
The Health Insurance SalesmanBy 1980 I was still drifting, didn’t have much financially, and didn't know what God would have me to do with my life. During my many years as a pastor I had never had an income greater than $150.00 a week plus housing and felt it was time to provide my family with some of the things I had been unable to provide them in previous years. So in 1981 I responded to an ad to be an insurance agent for the National Association for the Self Employed (NASE) which promised a significant income. First I had to get my license to sell insurance which I obtained and for the next six years sold health insurance to small business owners throughout the state of Florida. As an insurance agent, I learned a lot about health insurance and was able sell more policies than any of the other 1,200 NASE agents for a number of years. I was even featured on their recruiting videos. The reason I was able to sell so many policies was because I was honest in the presentation. Rather than selling policies with high premiums, I showed business owners how they, by taking a higher deductible, could save enough in monthly premiums to more than make up the cost of a lower deductible in the event they became sick and needed to use the policy. Another reason I believe I did so well selling health insurance was that I was more concerned about helping the small business owner save some money than selling a policy with a higher premium that would bring me greater financial reward. In 1986 I came home one weekend to find the furniture had been moved out of the house and my wife Janet had filed for divorce. I had been on the road selling insurance from Monday to Saturday every week for six years and no doubt this helped bring about this devastating departure after 36 years of marriage. Janet went home to be with Jesus not many years later.
The Move To TennesseeWith no furniture, no place to live, and no reason to be on the road living in motels selling insurance anymore, I stopped selling insurance and moved to a 50-acre tract of land I had previously purchased in Eidson, Tennessee. I started out living in a tent and then graduated to a 8x32 trailer while building a home. While building that house I began writing a book on a typewriter (computers were not in vogue as yet) and this was quite a challenge. But I still had a burning passion to get God’s Health Message out to the Christian Community, which was just as sick and the world’s community. The title of the book: “Why Christians Get Sick.” I had never written a book before and had a lot to learn. It took me several years to write the book and then I couldn’t find a publisher. So I ended up taking everything I had financially to self-publish the book at a local print shop. The owner of that print shop had defeated diabetes and prevented the amputation of his foot by adopting The Hallelujah Diet. I thought for sure that once my book was in print, everyone would want to buy my book and learn how they too could improve their health through a simple diet and lifestyle change based on that Genesis 1:29 diet that had restored my health back in 1976. But to my consternation, no one wanted to buy my book. It was now 1989 and I had struck out once again. I still had a passion to get God’s health message out to the Christian community, and now 13 years later years later, after spending several years writing a book and all I had on its publishing, still no one wanted to receive God’s health message. All through these years, from 1976 to 1989, God was allowing various circumstances in my life to bring me to that place I had been trying to get to for the previous 14 years; the acceptance of the Health Message God had laid on my heart in 1976. But there was one more major setback necessary before I found some light at the end of the tunnel.
Then My House Burned DownOn Christmas Eve 1989, while away for the evening celebrating the birth of Jesus, my house burned to the ground along with all remaining copies of my book “Why Christians Get Sick.” Where do I go, what do I do now? I had lost my wife and now had lost my home, and almost all the copies of the book I had written. I guess I had a little inkling of how Job must have felt when all those bad things happened to him. But I was about to enter the last chapter of the book of Job where God restored him and blessed him beyond measure. A friend who owned an antique mall on Main Street in Rogersville, Tennessee offered me a job as manager, along with a room above the antique mall in which in which I could live without rent or paying utilities. Another friend loaned me a bed, table, and chair, and I purchased a small refrigerator. The folks in the church I was attending at the time gave me some clothes. Fortunately, there was a bathroom and sink near that room above the antique mall where I was able to continue juicing my carrots and it was there I lived and worked. Continuing my burden to get out God’s health message, I stocked a booth in the antique store with healthy offerings and nutritional books, including my book “Why Christians Get Sick,” which I had managed to get a new printing of. I also began counseling those who showed interest in improving their health.
"For In Due Season Thou Shall Reap If Thou Faint Not"At the invitation of the owners of the Hales Spring Inn, just a few doors from the antique mall where I lived and worked, I started holding free “How to Eliminate Sickness” seminars in the lobby of that hotel. If five people showed up I was excited. It was in one of those early seminars in 1991, before Hallelujah Acres had its beginning in 1992; that God brought a very special person into my life, a person who was going to help me fulfill the vision I had had since 1976 to get God’s health message out to the Christian community. Rhonda was to be that very special person but I didn’t know it yet. And here she was in my seminar because she had a booth in the store in which I worked. She came to the seminar because I had learned that she had debilitating rheumatoid arthritis (the result of being hit by a freight train in 1981) and I had invited her to the seminar. To make a long story short, Rhonda took heed to what I was teaching, adopted God’s Genesis 1:29 diet, and within than a year her rheumatoid arthritis was gone, she had lost 85 pounds in weight, and she was well. Her healing led to a casual relationship in the beginning. She worked directly across the street from the antique mall and would come over during her lunch break. I would fix her an organic tomato sandwich on whole grain bread, and over lunch we would talk about diet and health. Over time, these lunch dates started love bells ringing. Together we started Hallelujah Acres on February 12, 1992 in an 11-foot wide store front located between the Hale Springs Inn and the antique mall. We put in tables and chairs for 16 people and started serving carrot juice by the glass, other vegetarian fare, and each Saturday morning I shared my health message, “You Don’t Have to be Sick.” Two months after Hallelujah Acres was birthed in that 11-foot-wide store front, Rhonda and I were married on April 11, 1992 — and our life has been a whirlwind ever since! We have seen Hallelujah Acres grow from a ma-and-pa operation in a store front in a little town in Tennessee in 1992 to a worldwide ministry 20 years later. On February 12, 2012 Hallelujah Acres will celebrate its 20th birthday, and on April 11, 2012, Rhonda and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. To God be the Glory, great things HE HAS DONE! Today, I can truly say with the Scriptures:
“And we know that all good things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”And I can also agree with that other Scripture I shared at the beginning of this article:
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."With all the roadblocks the devil put in my path between 1976 and 1992, it would have been so very easy to throw in the towel and lose the vision, but I thank God He never allowed me to do that. As I write this, I find myself just two years from my 80th birthday. The vision and passion that the whole world might know ‘You Don’t Have to be Sick’ that I first had way back in 1976 is still alive and well in my heart and mind! I am thrilled that God has allowed it to become a reality in my lifetime. If God has given you a vision of something that is good and positive and that can help your fellow man, don’t let the devil take that vision from you! On February 4, 2012, at my First Saturday of the month, “God’s Way to Ultimate Health” seminar at Hallelujah Acres International Headquarters in Shelby, North Carolina, Hallelujah Acres will celebrate its 20th Anniversary. In addition to the seminar, many special things are planned for that day including a healthy birthday cake to be enjoyed by all who attend the seminar that day. Y’all come! Next Week, the good Lord willing and if the creeks don’t rise too high, we will pick up where we have left off here with the opening of that store front in 1992 and share how Hallelujah Acres has grown in the past 20 years to the worldwide ministry it is today, helping millions around the world eliminate their physical problems. I trust you will join us as we continue to share the rest of the story.