Nestled somewhere between Kate’s Creek and Sulphur Springs Road just north of Highway 8 in the wildwood, sits the little “church in the vale.” Now known as “Sabbath Fellowship” Church and “Chapel Valley Health and Wellness Center.”
Early in the 1980’s, in this fairly remote area, where small territorial churches, mostly Baptist, had all closed due to older residents dying and younger ones moving away, a small group of neighbors who loved God, felt the need of community fellowship and wanted to keep the biblical Sabbath, got together and decided to start a church. They all pitched in and built a small block building at the corner of Bradshaw and Sulphur Springs Road and called it very appropriately, “Chapel Valley.”
Some of the early members were Dr. Bill Mizell, Ed and Wanda Bierle, Mervin and Laura Abbot, Dr. David and Charla Martin, Bill and Betty Johnson and Brad and Lois Bradshaw. Each family contributed something to the finished project. First, they built the sanctuary; Bill Mizell mixed the mortar, Bill Johnson laid the blocks, and they began their weekly Sabbath worship. After a few years, Dr. Bill moved back to Texas to finish his schooling and the little church later became part of the Seventh Day Adventist conference.
Dr. Mizell retired from his medical practice in Albuquerque, N.M. and returned to Arkansas to live in the Hot Springs area. After three months, (“the most miserable 3 months of my life,”) he realized retirement was not for him and he has been Medical Director at Quapaw House in Hot Springs for the past 4 years. One day as he was returning from a meeting in Mena, a friend called and said “Guess what, the church is for sale.” After learning it was the church that held so many memories, he turned his car around and drove to the familiar spot. Sure enough there was a sign from an agency in Mt. Ida.
He got out of his car and walked around. “It hurt, really bad, it literally made me sick, to see the place I had loved so much, in such sad condition. I think I cried most of the way back to Hot Springs.” He made an appointment with the realtor to tour the property but already knew in his heart that he was going to make an offer, no matter what the price. His first offer was turned down, but after the second, he was the proud owner of the little church in the vale that had fallen into such disrepair.
Dr. Bill is a man driven by his passion to help others. He is firmly convinced that our bodies were intended to heal themselves, with God’s help, “if people will just be willing to cooperate.” His first waking thought each day is “Heavenly Father, Show me how I can help someone today.” He knew in his heart that this peaceful property would be another step in that direction.
Fortunately for Dr. Bill, and unknown to him, there was a group of experienced, dedicated workers already prepared to help him tackle the major restoration.
They were Sabbath worshipers temporarily meeting at the Annex in Mt. Ida and looking for a church to rent or purchase; from many different backgrounds; Baptist, Catholic, Church of God, Seventh Day Adventist and others, with one common bond; a genuine love for God, hunger for God’s Word and a strong desire to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth. A personal relationship with God and The Three Angels messages in Revelation 14, the awareness of the critical times we live in and the overwhelming evidence that we are living in the end times of this earth’s history is the major thrust of the ministry message of this church. The church marquee reads: “Meetings at His appointed times.”
Among the group was a contractor, a retired interior decorator, several skilled workmen and other willing hands that all contributed to getting the church restored better than new, ready to once again be a blessed place where God’s people could worship and fellowship. Add the growing prison ministry and Dr. Mizell’s health and wellness clinic with focus on healing the whole person and you see an amazing growing church.
Ed Bierle is the head elder, mentor and teacher. He and Wanda came to Arkansas many years ago on a camping trip, fell in love with the springs, trees and hills, and purchased 30+ acres before their trip ended. They moved to the Sulphur Springs area and with the help of their two teenage sons, built their own home. Ed commuted to his job in Texas for more than 30 years. That’s true love for Arkansas. Wanda is Ed’s right hand, helps with women’s ministry, oversees most of the kitchen duty for the fellowship lunches (which are awesome) and together with Bill Lambert leads out in the music ministry.
The prison ministry that began at James E. Hamilton Correctional Center in Hodgen, Oklahoma by 3 inmates in 2009, has grown to average attendance each Sabbath of 40 to 50 men, all hungry for more of God’s truth. Lon and Marie Jones, former Californians make the two-way ninety minute trip every other Sabbath to volunteer so these men can have the privilege to worship. Like most prisons, inmates are not allowed to go into the chapel unless a volunteer is present, so someone has to be there. Milton Parrish, Pat Galloway and Bill Lambert are the other volunteers. There is a great need for more volunteers.
Lon Jones was a busy contractor in California and his wife Marie, was from Louisiana. When California life became too hectic, they started looking for a place to retire. Marie visited a friend in Arkansas and fell in love with the peace and quiet around Norman and found the perfect spot where Lon could have lots of land for his cows. They both enjoy the quiet laid back lifestyle on their wonderful farm in Black Springs. Because of their business responsibilities in California, it was three years after they became prison volunteers before Lon was able to live here full time and during that time he flew from California to Little Rock every two weeks where Marie picked him up so they could make the journey to the prison. In their own words, “the prison ministry has given us real purpose; for many years we were faithful church goers, but mostly just bench warmers. Watching lives changed and following these guys after they leave and seeing their new lives, has given us so much fulfillment and our lives a whole new meaning.” Marie is the number one assistant in the clinic, helps with scheduling, telephoning and paper work. Whatever needs to be done, anywhere in the church, Marie does it all willingly, as “unto the Lord.”
With Lon as the primary contractor working with their son, Lance, who is a skilled professional, the interior finish is done to perfection. Ed seems to enjoy the exterior, dirt moving etc. the most. The greatest obstacles for this recent, major remodel has been the weather and most recently the rains. Ed says “Lon and I are like 2 kids playing in the mud, but we will get it done.”
There had been two additions to the original sanctuary, a fellowship hall with kitchen and bath rooms and an addition for offices. Dr. Bill contracted the major overhaul of the Sanctuary and he offered the kitchen and dining area to the Mt. Ida group to use for their Sabbath meetings with the understanding that the fellowship area was theirs to utilize as needed. This year, doubling the dining area and adding another full kitchen, 2 baths with showers, plus 14 camping sites with full hook ups is the latest addition.
Dr. Mizell’s lifelong dream to see his vision for a health and wellness clinic, where people who can’t afford the high cost of medical treatment could come for help, both physically and spiritually, is becoming a reality. The Chapel Valley Health and Wellness Center is seeing people from as far away as Poteau and Sallisaw, Oklahoma. At present the clinic is open a couple of Sundays each month with plans to expand as the need increases. There is no charge for these services and appointments can be made by calling 870 490-1701.
Sabbath worship usually begins at 9:00 AM each Saturday with a video or teaching on current happenings affecting the Christian world at large, then the Scripture lesson at 10:00 followed by morning worship at 11:00. Twice each month on the 2nd and 4th Sabbaths there is a fellowship lunch enjoyed by all. The ladies of the church all contribute (and some of the men) there is always plenty of healthy and tasty food and great variety.
Elders Ed Bierle, Bill Mizell and Lon Jones provide caring leadership for this small but growing group. Some regular worshipers are coming from more than 100 miles away. “Where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.” Ed says “You won’t be judged by what you eat or what you wear.”
This is a church that believes in “Sola Scriptura” and takes God’s Word very seriously. Lunar events in the heavens last year (on 2 feast days,) and coming up on April 4, (Passover) this year, brings new meaning and a fresh excitement for God’s people. John Hagee, Mark Biltz and Johnathon Kahn, are just a few of dozens of Ministers and laymen who have done in-depth studies on these 4 blood moons, realizing the overwhelming evidence that we are truly living in the end times. Joel 2: 30-31 is just one of many scripture references to these times,
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.” Wake up world! Other scripture references are found in Lev. 23- Job 26- Gen. 1- Psalms 147 and- Is.40.
“Lighted Way Ministries,” Mark and Shauna Manferdine from Canyonville, Oregon are bringing their ministry team to Sabbath Fellowship for the Passover feast and the entire week of Unleavened Bread, beginning with the Seder dinner on Passover night, Saturday April 4th at 7:00 PM. (Celebrating God’s opening the Red Sea and Moses leading the people of God out of Egyptian bondage, but primarily honoring Jesus as our Passover Lamb) followed by daily teachings mornings at 10:00 with lunch served and afternoon sessions throughout the rest of the week. Their focus is the 4th angel’s message from Rev. 14, and the Elijah message from Malachi 4. A part of their musical team from Hawaii will bring anointed stringed instruments and lots of good music. This husband and wife team are Bible historians who have spent many years studying end time events and will be a blessing to all who can attend these sessions. They will gladly answer any questions at 541 672-1514.
You are invited to come worship on any Sabbath, but especially during this special time of the Spring Passover feast. If you have any questions call 870 490-1701 and someone will return your call. Please make plans to visit this awesome fellowship soon, all are welcome.