Our History: Love Grace & Grit

RESTORATION VILLAGE is more than 69 acres of dirt, trees, springs of water and buildings. It represents an accumulation of life journey stories prior to its existence that established a passion in the founders to answer the non-existential question: “Where can people go to get whole and their life together?”  RESTORATION VILLAGE is a living organism that continues those life stories with an opportunity to choose to overcome traumatic life-altering events that have affected their lives for years. RESTORATION VILLAGE is a shelter of safety, an opportunity to begin life anew and an environment for restorative healing of wholeness of body and soul.

The idea of Restoration Village began long before 1989. Years of ministering with single parents, directing a 12 step “Overcomers” group, volunteering with Court Appointed Special Advocates, and personal involvement in people’s lives were the founding concepts of a ministry that just might make a difference in the lives of those we encountered.  Some might call it a “vision” of some type of para church ministry, but it became a “passion” to establish a long-term facility where those in need could experience love, grace, hospitality, security and someone who cares enough to walk along beside others while mentoring them to hope towards a different future outcome.

The naming of the ministry came from a decision during the early days of the developing search for an identity of the program from a Bible verse that became a motivational response to a question from God: “But this is a people plundered and looted, all of them trapped in pits or hidden in captivity. They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them, they have been made loot (become fair game for others) with no one to say, Restore (Isaiah 42:22). In the margin of my Bible is written, still visible after these years the words, “I will.”

For seven years Beverly and I visited potential lands with already existing buildings to begin a place of refuge. We visited locations in Texas (cost too much); estates on two different lakes in Oklahoma (one needed extensive repairs and had legal issues, the other a cost could not be arrived at because a partner wanted more monies than we would agree to).  We almost quit looking as it seemed that nothing was occurring that encouraged or strengthened our resolve. But the passion to find the “place” never went away.

An advertisement in the magazine “Christianity Today” read a “…potential retreat center in the Ozarks”.   A letter of query was sent but not responded to by the advertiser for several months. Then a short letter came to us that said: “If you would like to see the property we will be in Little Flock, Arkansas in March and you may come visit and talk with us.”  A glimmer of anticipation and hope?

On a cold, muddy (because of melting snow) day, we met a representative of a piece of property that previously had been an orphanage.   It had been vacant except for a part-time care taker for seven years. The property had a 10,000-square foot main lodge, two old wooden houses at the front of the property, a log cabin on a hill (upon stepping into the basement area without a flash light, I sank into one foot of water), a barn in need of repairs, a work shop that had just four walls and a house in the valley where the care taker lived.  Despite the mud, the wet and cold feet, the broken windows, and the bleakness of the day coupled with the disrepair of the buildings, Beverly and I looked at each other on the South end of the lodge and together agreed: “This is it.”

An agreement to rent the property (low the first year and escalating over the years) and assume full responsibility for all repairs without remuneration from the owners began the venture of faith.

Life altering decisions were going to be made in the next three months that had no specific rhyme or reason as we by faith were just following an admonition like that of Abraham who “went, not knowing” (Hebrews 11:8).  We began to prepare to sell our home, quit my employment, uproot the family, and face the obstacle of not having any concept of what we were beginning and how it might end.  The small miracles in the beginning; a single parent gave us her $600 Christmas bonus; another single parent gave us a ring she had found and was unable to locate the owner and we pawned it for $200.00; our church in Tulsa believed in the passion and vision and donated $1400 and free use of the church truck to get our family and belongings moved.  And so, with $2,200 cash, our 3 youngest children, and a pocket full of Bible promises, we went.

During the month of May our family and single parents from our church would come to the property to clean windows, scrub floors and do what could be done, without utilities turned on, to clean the main lodge building.  My employer guaranteed me a part-time position to represent them in Arkansas and Missouri; we collected my 401(k) and arrived in Little Flock, Arkansas on June 5, 1989.  The work continued to turn on utilities, connect stoves, clean out commodes, wipe down moldy doors, paint some rooms, and figure out how to get the spring water pumps to send water to the lodge.  We worked in a building without air conditioning, ceiling fans, or refrigerators during the first months, but it did not deter our resolve to begin “RESTORATION VILLAGE.”    There was no appropriate zoning of the new project and no idea of how we would sustain the property in the future. It was one day at a time.

Members of our former church in Tulsa came over on weekends to pull up old carpet and lay new; peel old faded wall paper and put up new or paint rooms; attempt to beautify the outdoors; and all at their own expense. An adult lady, then a single parent with two children, all with desperate needs and emotional circumstances came to the Village and became our first residents. In August, a local church called and asked us to tell them of our mission and what we were doing here in Arkansas. After a luncheon with them they became supporters and have continued to support us for 28 years. Despite all the manual labor required to put the building and property back into some semblance of order, residents came, contributions came in the mail or in person and the Village was beginning to emerge as a viable force to make a difference in women’s and children’s lives.

During the first two years, the Village stayed at full capacity for those who needed a safe place to reside.  Volunteers and residents aided us in continual painting and refurbishment of the other buildings that were on the property. Tax deductibility papers were secured; incorporation was completed; a Board of Directors was assembled; the Village was coming together slowly, but miraculously our needs were being met – then came a letter from the owners that was about to change everything. The letter asked us to purchase the property or they were going to sell it.  For two years, we were here living from week to week depending upon God’s favor and those who heard of the ministry to provide our needed funding, but there was nothing in reserve. We had a few months to figure out how to secure the land before the “For Sale” signs went up.

It was an election year and we solicited banks, lending institutions, and those sympathetic to our purpose but to no avail. One bank considered loaning us the purchase price contingent upon the Board of Directors signing a pledge for the note and guarantee the mortgage. We wouldn’t do that to the Board.

Even with refusals, we continued with the assurance that RESTORATION VILLAGE was to be here and despite the possibility of a “For Sale” sign going up on the following Monday, the ministry and services continued without telling all the women and children that we might be evicted in a couple of weeks.

One week prior to the purchase deadline, a man and his wife drove up in our driveway, unannounced, and spent almost two hours asking questions about the Village, its goals, purposes, and future. As they stood up to leave that afternoon the gentleman said, “You will hear back from us” and drove away. On the following Monday, we received a phone call from the couple’s attorney.  He told us the couple would loan us the money to purchase the land if we would sign a personal note to repay the loan. The sellers even negotiated the price for less than they had originally requested. Without hesitation, we said “yes.” During the next ten years, we made the payments. That couple even contributed to the ministry which was enough to make or aid in the return of the payments.

Restoration Village has influenced other endeavors far and beyond just Northwest Arkansas.  From testifying in Little Rock before State Legislative meetings to working along elected representatives, new laws have been created and legislation regarding felony sentencing and mandated reporting have changed to better protect children in our state.  In 2000, through the vision of the founders, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County opened to provide a safe place for child abuse victims to receive comprehensive services from professional interviewers, nurses, counselors, and advocates.  The Advocacy Center also provides child abuse prevention, awareness, and education to the community.  Despite being told, “if you had six million dollars to donate to the Northwest Arkansas Community College, then they might listen to your proposal,” a presentation was still made to the Board of Directors of the College.  Thanks to their belief in the program, and with the endorsement of the President of the College, the Second National Child Protection Training Center in America was opened. Thousands have attended the various one-week training courses, and hundreds have attended classes working towards a minor degree curriculum of four semesters in child protection.  One of the first graduates of the program was an intern at the Children’s Advocacy Center.

The VILLAGE still operates by faith. Beverly’s workbook and small groups; non-resident counseling; an Equine Therapy program with a trained and certified counselor on staff; a feeding program to a needed area of Rogers which started quarterly, then monthly and now other civic groups and churches have joined with us to take hot food meals weekly along with toiletries, clothing, toys and books; these are a few of the ventures that help others outside of the Village.  Love, grace and lots of “grit” has established this property to God’s glory.  And the Village will continue to minister to women and children to the glory of God and in the name of the author and finisher of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bible Promises

Below are some of the Bible promises God gave to us during the 12 years that we looked for the property and the fulfillment of God’s vision to “Restore”.  The dates are the dates that were marked in our Bibles when God impressed these verses upon our hearts and guided us and encouraged our hearts.

Isaiah 42:22

“But this is a people robed and plundered; they are all of them snared in holes, and hidden in houses of bondage the have become a prey with no one to deliver them, a spoil, with no one to say, Restore them!”

Isaiah 58:6-8

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen; to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every enslaving yoke?

Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry; and bring the homeless poor into your house? When you see the naked that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from the needs of your own flesh and blood?

Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your healing shall spring forth speedily; your righteousness shall go before you and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”

Isaiah 52:7

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who published salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns.”

(July 25, 1977).

Isaiah 54:2, 3, 10, 13

“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; spare not, lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes,

For you shall spread abroad to the right hand and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

For though the mountains should depart and the hills be shaken or removed, yet My love and kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace and completeness be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

And all your (spiritual) children shall be disciples – taught of the Lord (and obedient to His will); and great shall be the peace an undisturbed composure of your children.”

(July 27, 1977)

Deuteronomy 6:10-15

“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you, with great and godly cities, which you did not build.

And houses full of all good things, which you did not fill and cisterns hewn out, which you did not hew, and vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and when you eat and are full,

Then beware lest you forget the Lord, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

You shall (reverently) fear the Lord your God, and serve Him, and swear by His name (and presence).

You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples who are round about you.

For the Lord your God in the mist of you is a jealous God; lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and He destroy you from off the face of the earth.”

(April 12, 1987)

Deuteronomy 8:2-14

“And you shall (earnestly) remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forth years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your (mind and) heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

And He humbled you and allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that He might make you recognize and personally know that man does not live by bread only, but man lies by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.

Your clothing did not become old upon you, nor did your foot swell, these forty years.

Know also in your (mind and) heart that, as a man disciplines and instructs his son, so the Lord your God disciplines and instructs you.

Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and (reverently) fear Him.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey.

A land in which you shall eat food without shortage, and lack nothing in it, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig cooper.

When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for all the good land which He has given you.

Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God, by not keeping His commandments, His precepts, and His statutes, which I command you today.

Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses, and live in them,

And when your herds and flocks multiply, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all you have is multiplied;

Then your (mind and) heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

(April 12, 1987)

Leviticus 26:2 – 6

“You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary, I am the Lord.

If you walk in My statutes and keep my commandments and do them,

I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field yield their fruit.

And your threshing (time) shall reach to the vintage, and the vintage (time) shall reach to the sowing time, and you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land securely.

I will give peace in the land; you shall lie down, and none shall fill you with dread or make you afraid; and I will clear ferocious (wild) beasts out of the land, nor shall the sword go through your land.”

Isaiah 55:8 – 13

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again but water the

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth, it shall not return to Me void – without producing any effect, useless – but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the things for which I sent it.

For you shall go out (from spiritual exile of sin and evil in the homeland) with joy, and be led forth (by your Leader, the Lord Himself and His word) with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the tees of the field shall clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the bier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name of renown, for an everlasting sign of jubilant exaltation and memorial (to his praise) that shall not be cut off.”

(April 30, 1987)

Matthew 19:2

“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.’”

Hebrews 10:35-37

“Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.

For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away (and enjoy to the full) what is promised.

For still a little while – a very little while – and the Coming One will come and He will not delay.”

(January 29, 1979 and May, 1987)

Luke 1:37

“For with God nothing is ever impossible, and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.”

Isaiah 33:24

“And no inhabitant will say, ‘I am sick’; the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity and guilt.”

Psalms 107:41

“God places the solitary in families and gives the desolate a home in which to dwell.”

(April 1989)

Psalms 68:6

“A father of the fatherless and a judge and protector of the widows is God in His holy habitation. God places the solitary in families and gives the desolate a home in which to dwell; He leads the prisoners out to prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a parched land."

Psalms 107:41

“Yet He raises the poor and needy from affliction, and makes them families like a flock”

(April 1989).