Amaroo Health Retreat and Water Gardens at Hope Forest, South Australia
Introducing Amaroo Water Gardens
“It’s time to start a health retreat like Highwood in South Australia,” urged my friend Angie.
I hadn’t been thinking much about a new health retreat in South Australia because I have been busy with the work God has given me to do. But Angie was, and most importantly God was too.
“Sanitariums (lifestyle health retreats/centres) should be established near Melbourne and Adelaide.” Medical Ministry, page 326.
I have shared this statement many times with an emphasis on Highwood Health Retreat in Victoria because it is near the sprawling city of Melbourne, Victoria and fulfills the first part of the statement above. However, when I would read this statement to my audiences I would think to myself that someday God would perhaps open up a door of opportunity to establish a sister ministry to Highwood near the beautiful city of Adelaide, South Australia. I even have a very good friend with a busy medical practice, Dr. Rosemary Brown, who lives in the Adelaide Hills. She and I have spoken many times about starting a lifestyle health retreat near Adelaide at some point in the future. She often told me how she would love to be personally involved in such a place. But, I thought it would be several more years down the line because of our obligations to Highwood and other ministry demands.
Then something happened that began to change my thinking. During March 2014, Angie Thompson, one of our occasional Highwood volunteers from South Australia, told me she was very impressed by that statement and just couldn’t get it out of her mind. “It’s time to start a health retreat like Highwood in South Australia,” she urged. She told me she was willing to sacrifice personally, if necessary, to make it happen and devote her own time and energy toward its success. “God clearly wants a health retreat in South Australia,” pled Angie.
There is no medical missionary health retreat in South Australia near Adelaide at this time. Then I read THIS compelling statement. “There certainly should be a sanitarium near Adelaide. I shall encourage this, for it is God’s plan,” wrote God’s messenger. Manuscript Releases, Vol. 9, page 369
I just couldn’t get it out of my mind
As Angie and I talked together, I realized that perhaps God was opening an important opportunity sooner than I had expected, and He was using Angie to point me in the right direction. There was already a core group of people there with a strong interest. For instance, in addition to Angie and Dr. Brown there are others, including health workers, pastors, agriculturalists and others. I decided to earnestly ask God for guidance.
As I prayed, I felt strongly impressed to visit Adelaide and talk to the group of interested people. Like Angie, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. I’d wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it. I had to at least check it out! There’s another statement that greatly impressed me, “The outlook for establishing a sanitarium at Adelaide is much more favorable than the outlook for establishing one at Melbourne…” Letter to Dr. H. D. Kress and Wife, May 10, 1906. I knew I had to do something. So, the next time I was in Australia, I booked a flight to Adelaide. And what a trip it was!
I watched in awe as God worked
The group in South Australia included my friend, Dr. Brown, and a dedicated local pastor named Pastor Ray Carlsen. Also there was John, a horticulturalist and his wife Karen, and my friend Angie, who has some background in community programs like cooking schools, CHIP and even some management experience. Her husband Greg, a pilot, was also there.
As we all talked together, I noted that each person came to the meeting with different, and even conflicting ideas, recommendations and plans. But I watched in awe as God began to focus the group on a single united approach, under heaven’s principles. Dr. Brown approached me privately and told me that she would be willing to move her practice to the campus of a lifestyle retreat and would support it heart and soul. I was astonished! That would provide much needed cash flow. The key elements seemed to be coming together rather quickly. One person even offered $10,000 to help get the project started.
Stunned by Amaroo Water Gardens!
We decided to move forward and see if God would open the way. I earnestly wanted to see that God was obviously leading. Pastor Ray went hunting for property and eventually sent me the brochure of a place called “Amaroo Water Gardens,” about 45 minutes south of Adelaide in a place coincidentally, or perhaps providentially, called “Hope Forest.” The beauty of the place stunned me! It is so lovely that it is often used for weddings. Amaroo is an aboriginal name that means “beautiful place.” And indeed it is! Take a look at the pictures on this page.
As I looked at the information before me, I sensed that this might be the place God had designed for us. It already had a functioning bed and breakfast. It has space that can be re-purposed for a doctor’s office and therapy rooms, and plenty of parking. The price was 1.5 million Aussie dollars, a lot of money. I know that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, but how would God come up with funds for something like that? I decided to test Him. He works in many different ways, you know. I told the team that we had to wait on the Lord and see God obviously working through His providence.I prayed that the Lord would help us find “friends of the enterprise” who would at least provide a “bridge loan” in time to secure Amaroo. I made a few contacts, and sure enough, God provided a friendly private loan on easy terms that signaled we could move ahead.
Testing the Lord
We made an offer that was $200,000 less than the seller was asking and $300,000 less than what he said he had in it. We wanted to test the Lord to verify that He was supporting this important project by securing the property at a considerably lower price. Soon after making an offer, the real estate agent emailed me and told me that Amaroo had gone under contract to another purchaser that had offered more money. I was disappointed, but knew that God has everything under control. He always does. We trust that He knows best. I decided to just wait on the Lord.
Also Pastor Ray weighted in. “Let’s just wait and see what happens,” he said. Dr. Brown also agreed that we needed to test God’s providence. I could see that God had already started the wheels in motion. He certainly wouldn’t stop now! We just had to be patient and see what He would do.
Three days later, the real estate agent emailed me and said that the contract had fallen through and that we should do our “due diligence.” I immediately sensed that this was the Lord’s doing! I even wondered if God had been preparing the sellers to accept our much lower price.
In a few days, I sent our Highwood builder over to Adelaide to have a close look at Amaroo to make sure that it was suitable for our plans. The seller reduced their price a little, but still wanted way more money than we had offered.
The agent pressed me to increase our offer. I still believed we had to test God’s providence. I have learned over many years in my life and ministry that God is in the shadows planning, working and organizing to fulfill His express will through His people. And a lifestyle retreat near Adelaide is certainly His express will. We just have to pray and be patient. And there was a lot of that going on.
I explained to the agent that we could not increase our price. After all, we’ll have to invest considerably in making it suitable for our needs. Amazingly, the next day the seller accepted our offer, and a few days later we were under contract.
I am in awe as I see how fast God worked! I’ve watched God do this before, and trust His leading and timing even when it doesn’t look like it is going to happen.
Update on Amaroo Water Gardens 01 December 2014.
By the grace of God, Amaroo Water Gardens transferred to Keep the Faith on November 25, 2014. With the gifts that were made to purchase the property, plus a bridge load from a “friend of the enterprise” we were able to secure the property and start making plans to prepare to accept guests in a few months. First we have to navigate local council (county) regulations and apply for permission to change the use of Amaroo. We have already made the initial submission which is now in process. Please pray for this process. I’m told it can be difficult. It happened that the man we hired to process our application (which was required) was able to meet me at the airport on my way out of Adelaide. We had a very nice talk about it all, and he was very encouraging. He was also very intelligent about the local council and could give me strategic advice.
When I first visited at Amaroo after the transfer with other members of our team, we knelt in prayer and dedicated Amaroo to God and earnestly asked Him to bless it with His presence right from the beginning. To us, there is no point in doing this work unless we have the blessing of the Lord. We will seek for this every day.
As I walked around the gardens, I was deeply impressed by the handsome trees, abundant flowers and flocks of beautiful birds. Plentiful water lilies overspread the lake, while all manner of parrots, finches, wrens, swallows, ibis, water hens, and even rare yellow tailed black cockatoos make Amaroo their home. It is stunningly beautiful and so very peaceful! As I sat at the picnic table in the sunshine and listened to the multitudes of birds and waterfowl that make Amaroo come alive with sound and movement, it gave me confidence that this was God’s choice for a health retreat near Adelaide and that His precious Spirit will impress our future guests with His love.
That same night we had a team meeting in which we chose the official name for the health retreat. It is to be called Amaroo Water Gardens Health Retreat. Of course, most of the time it will just be referred to as Amaroo or “Amaroo Water Gardens,” or perhaps “Amaroo Health Retreat.” That name gives the health retreat local recognition and also provides a very appealing natural ambiance to the name itself. It suggests peace, tranquility and a beautiful, stress-free environment.
But now the work begins. We are planning an open house day for SDAs January 11, 2015. In the meantime, we have to get it cleaned up and organized for lots of visitors. There is a lot of interest in Amaroo and it is growing every day. We are praying that there will be many volunteers who will be willing to help prepare Amaroo for guests. If you would like to help, please contact us.
An Important Opportunity
We still need a lot of support for Amaroo, especially during this start-up phase. Your gifts mean much to us. If you can make a special gift by the end of the year to help us purchase necessary furniture and equipment, materials and supplies, it would be so meaningful to us. Any gifts from Americans or Australians are tax-deductible. Australians, please designate Amaroo and we will send you the appropriate receipt that you can use for taxation. Americans will get a tax-deductible receipt as usual.
Your support for Amaroo Water Gardens Health Retreat really means a lot. I want to thank each of you for your special gift to support the purchase of Amaroo Water Gardens in November. We aren’t there yet, but the response has been very good. Your continued help is sorely needed. We have a lot of work to do with significant start-up expenses. Your gifts right now make a huge difference.
Here is an important statement about this work. “I need not wait for reflection before saying that I believe the best plan is that of first strengthening the work in Adelaide. The climate is more healthful, and the spiritual atmosphere much more favorable than that of Melbourne. This is the way that the matter has been presented to me… I believe that after placing the whole matter before the Lord, the brethren will come to a harmonious decision. The Lord understands all of our necessities.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 21, page 90.
Friends, you can help us change lives for eternity. You can support Amaroo in a number of ways. You can volunteer, you can support with gifts. At the very least you can help by praying everyday for its success. You can make a gift by enclosing it in your monthly envelope with your CD packet. Aussies can make a gift at ANZ Bank, Account Name: Keep the Faith Ministries, BSB 013622, Account Number: 277183372. Please designate Amaroo.
Stay tuned. More later.
God bless you,
In the Master’s Service
Pastor Hal Mayer
Keep the Faith Ministry
P.S. Friends, Amaroo is a precious place in God’s eyes. We are dedicating it to Him. Your gift will be part of this important start.