THE STORY OF HOPE
by Beth Jennings
Many have been asking questions about Hope International. How and when did it begin? What exactly is Hope? What are its objectives? and what relationship does it have to the Seventh-day Adventist Church? What all does Hope do? A book could be written about Hope International, but as one of Hope’s founders I will answer these questions as briefly as possible.
Hope was organized and incorporated in the State of Washington in the United States in July 1964, with Dr. Lloyd H. Silver as chairman and founder. The board consisted of four men (a medical doctor, two engineers, and a building contractor) and their wives. Among these were my husband, Vernon Jennings, and I. All were lay leaders in local Seventh-day Adventist Churches in the Seattle area of Washington State.
What brought these people together? It was their common interest in finishing God’s work in the world and in following as closely as possible the Spirit of Prophecy counsels on true medical missionary work, true educational work, and in other areas as well. We encountered difficulty in carrying out these instructions in the local churches because of lack of interest and knowledge on the part of most members and pastors. Of particular concern to the charter members of Hope were the doctrinal aberrations brought into the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a result of the Martin-Barnhouse doctrinal discussions with some of the leaders of the General Conference, and the printing of the book Questions on Doctrine in 1957.
A beautiful 165-acre ranch on the south end of Ohop Lake near Eatonville, Washington, was purchased to be the home base of operations. Next, a comprehensive charter and bylaws were drawn up and registered with the state government and the Internal Revenue Service. This document gave Hope a wide range of possible activities. The following is quoted from Article II of the constitution and bylaws of Hope International:
“The purposes for which this Corporation is formed are as follows:
1. To establish a religious, educational association to further a knowledge, acceptance, and practice of divinely inspired doctrinal writings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, namely, the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White.
2. To give special religious, health and healing instructions.
3. To teach and practice the laws of health and the laws of God.
4. To carry on a program of benevolent charity to those in need.
5. To accumulate, compile, publish, and distribute information, statistics and other data of helpful interest to public and individual health.
6. To establish, own, maintain, conduct and operate such institutions, schools, lecture halls, sanitaria, clinics, industries, facilities, publications and other media of education such as magazines, newspapers, radio and television as may be lawful, necessary or convenient for the accumulation and dissemination of information relating to physical, mental, and spiritual health.
7. To conduct research and develop projects in the areas of interest to the Corporation.
In summary, our purpose is to support the divinely ordained mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to bring the gospel to all the world. Our mission is not to tear down or destroy the work of the church, but to uphold it and help build it up along the lines that God has directed. Mercifully, God hid the future from us, or we would have been considerably more afraid than we were to proceed with our mission.
God has in the past years miraculously preserved Hope through difficult times. We will mention only a few. One such occasion occurred while Vernon and I still lived in Federal Way, about 35 miles north of Eatonville. It was supposed to be payday, but there was almost no money in the Hope bank account. What were we to do?
As Hope’s treasurer I wrote the payroll checks and handed them to Vernon, saying, “Take these checks out to Hope and give them to the workers.” However, he looked shocked and protested, “But you said there was no money in Hope’s bank account.”
I replied, “Yes, that is right. But there will be money for these checks when they take them to the bank, for we are going to kneel down right now and pray that the Lord will supply the money needed for His work.”
About one hour later, when Vernon walked into the Hope office, the secretaries at the front desk were rejoicing and praising God for a large donation that had just arrived in the mail.
Was it enough to cover the payroll checks? Yes, and much more! It came as great news to me, too, for I knew nothing about this donation in advance. God had come through for Hope again.During the severe economic recession of the early 1970s, Hope had great difficulty trying to survive. Donations were down while the mortgage payments increased sharply, owing to greatly increased real estate taxes and insurance, both of which were included in the monthly mortgage payments. Even though we were contributing thousands of dollars of our own money to Hope, many times mortgage payments were missed owing to a lack of available funds. The laws of the State of Washington allowed foreclosure proceedings to begin after three months of default in payments. However, each time it looked as if foreclosure would begin, suddenly funds came in to save the place. One such experience occurred when a man sent us $10,000, the exact amount needed at the time. No one had asked him for the money.
Another time, I, as the Hope accountant, saw that the three-month grace period had almost run out without a payment made. The mortgage holder was ready to file foreclosure. Alone and in tears I knelt down and prayed, “O Lord, this place was dedicated to You and Your poor people. Now the rich bankers are about ready to take it over. O God, don’t let them take this ranch away from us. It seems as if every time in the past when we were in trouble we have seen Your invisible hand saving this place. Was it You, God—You all along saving the property from foreclosure? I believe it was, Lord. Please, help us now! Please impress some rich man—like my brother in California—to send us money. I know my brother has warned some of our relatives not to give anything to Hope, so I can’t ask him for help. But You ask him, Lord. You ask him. I’m leaving this problem completely in Your hands, Lord. May Your will be done. Amen.”
I told no one about this private prayer—not even my husband. Only God and the angels witnessed and heard it. However, in about two or three days when I went to the mailbox I found a letter from my brother. It was brief and to the point: “Dear Sis, I have been impressed by the Holy Spirit that you need money. I am sending $1,000.00 now, and I will be sending more money in the future. Love Bob.”
I explained to Vernon how I had prayed to God for help. We were both thrilled and astonished at such a wonderful response. We thanked God and rejoiced together for this marvelous answer to my prayer.
On Friday evening of that same week, I received a phone call from my brother. He was very excited and told me that he had had the most wonderful experience of his entire life. He said, “It was marvelous! The Holy Spirit came to me in a strong way and impressed me that you needed money. I sent $1,000.00 and I will be sending more later. Maybe some day you can have an experience like this. Oh, it was wonderful—wonderful!” My brother continued to send money until the entire mortgage was paid off.
As I received the money and recorded it in the deposit book, which I still have, I thought many times about how God had initiated this source of funds like someone turning on a water faucet. No human hand or voice did the job. Praise the Lord! This experience did a great deal for us all—but especially for my brother. He had a tremendous spiritual revival in his own life. God is great. He knows just what we need. Heaven has a wonderful communication system.
From this point on we knew that God was saving Hope for a particular purpose. Different programs came and went over the years, but nothing seemed to be a great success, though we continued activities such as helping the poor, distributing literature, conducting Five-day Stop Smoking Clinics, conducting church school, and treating the sick. Nothing took deep root at Hope. Surely God had something more in mind, or why would He miraculously preserve the ranch? With great personal sacrifice, tears, prayers, and by the grace of God, we and our associates hung on.
Eventually, however, the Hope Board of Directors decided to put the property up for sale. It was listed with a local real estate office with a multiple-listing service for six months. However, there was no response, and in due time the listing ran out. We then tried to sell it on our own. Again, no response. Then one Sunday evening the Hope board decided that it was not God’s will that the ranch be sold, and we voted unanimously to withdraw it from the market. The next morning cash buyers appeared at our gate. We were offered $330,000 cash with hints of more money if necessary. Pastor Rolf Lindfors told them, “No, it is not for sale at any price. You are one day too late.” When I later told a local real estate agent about this fantastic offer he was totally shocked. He could not believe that we would turn down such a good offer. It was clear to us that God had held off the buyers until a vote was taken to withdraw the ranch from the market. Only then were buyers permitted by God to come forward. Truly, the Hope Ranch dedication was accepted by God. It still belongs to God for His final work in this world.
For years we had been impressed that God would send someone special to head up the work at Hope. In the spring of 1984, I received a call from a friend living to the south of us. She asked if Elder Ron Spear could hold a series of revival meetings at Hope. “Oh,” I responded. “Ron Spear? I remember him years ago at camp meeting when the Conference was sending him to Africa as a missionary. Are you sure you can’t find anywhere else for him?” She assured me that she could not. She also assured me that he was straight on his theology. Then she offered to come and help clean up the barn hayloft for the meetings. That task involved, among other things, sweeping, mopping, and setting up chairs. Surely, she was determined.
He held his meetings in the hayloft of the barn; we could not help being reminded of the pioneers of the early Advent movement—how they met in barns. And, too, the message we heard that day rang true as a bell. We were thrilled! Many in the audience felt the strong presence of the Holy Spirit in that humble place. Elder Spear’s theology was as straight as an arrow. He preached present truth with a sense of urgency. However, only three of the Hope board members were present to hear him preach. As I sat there and listened, God strongly impressed me that this was the man we had been waiting for all these years.
On Elder Spear’s next swing around the Pacific Northwest, I urged him to come again to Hope with his message so that the other board members could hear him. He did, and they also were thrilled with his outstanding, urgent message. As I listened to Elder Spear with his riveting “prepare ye the way of the Lord” message, I knew in my heart why God had saved Hope through all those years. Elder Spear had memorized vast numbers of Bible and Spirit of Prophecy statements and was well qualified to help carry out the number-one purpose of our charter.
Elder Rolf Lindfors, a key part of Hope from 1979–1986, and chairman of the board at the time, took Elder Spear on a tour of the property, showing him the land and the buildings. Now and then, comment was made that Hope might serve well as headquarters for his work. As Elder Spear toured the property making suggestions, gradually his use of pronouns changed from “you” to “we” when describing what could be done with the property.
Ron Spear found at Hope the property, the facilities, the atmosphere, the support group, and the tax-exempt corporation that he needed to do the work God had sent him to do. His great burden from the Lord was to publish a magazine for Seventh-day Adventists that would help give the trumpet a certain sound. At Hope he could fulfill his God-given commission.
Somehow the name “Hope International” seems very appropriate for our work. What is our mission? To start a grassroots revival in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. To train people to give the loud-cry message. To follow God’s blueprint exactly in all we do. To spread hope around this entire troubled world.
The stressful years of struggle during the past fade into insignificance as we see today what God is doing with this corporation. In the fall of 1985, the Lord led Hope to begin publishing a monthly magazine, Our Firm Foundation, designed to be a spiritual blessing to Seventh-day Adventist laity, pastors and leaders. Since its inception millions of copies of this periodical have been published and distributed around the world. It is presently being published in ten different languages.
The heartfelt letters of gratitude we at Hope receive daily from church members of different levels of church organization, who have been spiritually revived, are most gratifying. Many who have strayed from the fold are returning to the church because their hope and confidence in its mission have been restored. Hope International is providing worldwide seminars on revival, reformation, and health. In addition, we produce books, magazines, cassette tapes, video tapes, tracts, memory verse cards, and more, that God is using to help raise up an army of dedicated men and women to finish His work in this perishing world.
Today our hearts are thrilled as we see a strong outreach ministry developing from Hope International. To date we have printed millions of copies of our magazines, which are being circulated all over the world. We have also translated several of them into Spanish for the benefit of the Hispanic people. These activities are all directed toward reaching the unsaved of this world. For all of them we give God the glory.
Our literature and tapes are priced low so that we can get them into the hands of those who need them so very much. To those who cannot afford to pay we give them out as freely as we are able.
When we contemplate all that has been done and is being done, we give God the glory for it all. It is only because of His great love that this work has been made possible. Praise the Lord! We thank all those who in the past have had any part in establishing and preserving Hope for this great hour. Thanks also to those who currently are supporting this ministry. Many of you write and tell us that the Holy Spirit impressed you to make donations to Hope. Thank you for listening to that beautiful voice. Hope does not have an excess of funds. Each month we pray that God will give us enough to pay our bills. Each month He provides. Our banker cannot understand the way we do business. It is contrary to the ways of commerce. Our most heartfelt thanks and love we give to God who makes it all possible. Without Him we could do nothing.
The divine forecast as prophesied in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy of a great revival and reformatory movement led by the laymen of the church for the finishing of the work in the world is now beginning to take place. Read Joel 2. From the pen of Ellen White comes the following:
“The Lord will use in the accomplishment of His work means that we do not now see. He will raise up from among the common people, men and women to do His work, even as of old He called fishermen to be His disciples. There will soon be an awakening that will surprise many. Those who do not realize the necessity of what is to be done, will be passed by, and the heavenly messengers will work with those who are called the common people, fitting them to carry the truth to many places. Now is the time for us to awake and do what we can.” Loma Linda Messages, 83.
“In visions of the night, representations passed before me of a great reformatory movement among God’s people. Many were praising God. The sick were healed, and other miracles were wrought. A spirit of intercession was seen, even as was manifested before the great Day of Pentecost. Hundreds and thousands were seen visiting families and opening before them the Word of God. Hearts were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit, and a spirit of genuine conversion was manifest. On every side doors were thrown open to the proclamation of the truth. The world seemed to be lightened with the heavenly influence. Great blessings were received by the true and humble people of God. I heard voices of thanksgiving and praise, and there seemed to be a reformation such as we witnessed in 1844.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 126.
In this article I have given you a brief history of Hope as accurately as I possibly could. It is clear that a supernatural power has attended the work of this corporation. The question remaining which all of us must answer is, Which supernatural power? Has Jesus been that mighty power that has led and intervened all along in the affairs of Hope International? What is the “acid test” that must be applied to Hope and to every other religious operation? We find that test in Isaiah 8:20. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. ” As an associate editor and a copy editor for Hope I very carefully and to the best of my ability apply this test daily to all the material I read. All that Hope publishes must meet this “acid test.”
I believe God is using Hope International and other supporting ministries to help bring about the final glorious effort to save the lost. We have been promised that the work will end in a blaze of glory. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord.” Zechariah 4:6. It is only by the mighty power of God that this great reformatory movement will be successful and end in the second coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven.
It is our prayer that each one who reads this article will have a part in giving the loud-cry message, that final glorious effort in which human beings, angels, and the Holy Spirit combine their efforts in the greatest display of love and power that the world has ever experienced. Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen.
Where we are today...
In late 2002, the board of Hope International met to deal with several issues related to its current (at that time) location in Eatonville, WA. One was that we have been told that in the last days, volcanoes would erupt, and we were very close to Mount Rainier. Secondly, our property had become quite valuable because of its location, and we felt we might be able to sell it and use a lot of the money to reach more souls. Thirdly, we were in the country several years back, but through the passage of time, we found ourselves in a veritable subdivision. And lastly, the building restrictions were becoming untenable. We wanted to be back out in the country again.
The board made this a matter of prayer, fixed an amount we felt was fair, appraised for, yet very advantageous to us, and asked God that if it was His will, that He would open the way for the property to sell. We never advertised our campus property. The board announced to the staff, at worship the following day, the decision that had been made. At that staff worship was a doctor, who was not a staff member, and not even a Seventh-day Adventist. He just enjoyed our morning worships, and would come and listen. That doctor immediately stood up and said that he would purchase the property. We felt the Lord had answered our prayers in a dramatic way.
Once we had a buyer for our property, we needed to find a place to go. We put out feelers, made calls, visited several pieces of property, but none seemed to fit our needs. We announced our decision in our "Good News" newsletter, and some friends in Texas, having property in Illinois, contacted us. The board went and looked at the property and felt it could be a wonderful place to settle, but thought it would cost us more than we were going to get for our property in Washington. When we asked what they wanted for the property, we were astounded by the price. The owners wanted to help God's work and practically gave it to us! We could not thank God enough for His marvelous providence!
We made our move, with five-26’ U-Hauls and trailers, and more to come after that! The property in Illinois consisted of a beautiful brick chapel that seated around 100, and 20-room brick dormitory with a full kitchen, dining area and conference room, two additional homes, 50 wooded acres and a large pond. It was a perfect location! It was out in the country, only 10 minutes from the Interstate, and 15 minutes to a town of 33,000. There were two international airports within a 50-minute drive. Chicago, St. Louis and Des Moines were within a three-hour drive. Not only that, but Amtrak runs through this 33,000 person town and has more daily runs than any other city of its size in the nation! We couldn’t have been more pleased! God was truly watching over us.
The original property was an 80-acre tract of land that eventually had the aforementioned buildings built on it, and another home with ten acres and an additional 20-acre field for planting. The ten-acre plot and home had recently been sold to a man and his four daughters, as was the 20-acre field for a planned subdivision. After some prayer, we decided to approach the man who bought the 10 acres and house, along with the owners of the property we just bought, and asked if he might be willing to sell what he just bought, to us.
We felt it was an outside chance, but we really needed not only the home and land, but because it was connected to us on three sides, it would have been a real plus for us. Again, miraculously, the man said he would pray about it and give us an answer in a few days. When we met again, he said that he felt impressed that we really needed the property, and sold it to us. He had only just purchased the property a few months earlier. God had once again ruled and overruled in our case. We rejoiced over and over concerning His marvelous grace and mercy.
Then our eyes turned to the 20-acre parcel that had been bought earlier and was slated for a subdivision. We again prayed, and then approached the new owner of this land. He said that he doubted that he would be interested, since his wife was really set on this project and had made a great many plans. He told us that he too would get back to us in a few weeks. The time dragged on, but we never quit praying for God’s will to be done, and if it was His will, we knew it would happen. We were happy to leave it in His capable hands. A few weeks later, the man said that his wife was against it, but he decided to sell it to us. Again, we fell on our knees thanking God profusely.
Now, we have the original 80 acres, with road frontage on two sides, and dense woods on the other two sides. God has us nestled in right where He wants us and He has chosen exactly where it would be best for us, for weather, cropland, woods for our wood stoves, water supply, easy access, no fear of subdivision build-up, and many more reasons that are enumerated on our tab: Miracles of Hope.