Palominas – For nearly all of their lives, Luis and Rose Bettencourt have felt the call to service. He has served on missions across the globe, building houses in El Salvador and journeying to Russia and Cuba, while she helped care for the sick in Africa and has served as a youth pastor for nearly a decade in her native New York.
Together and separately, they have followed the guidance of their Lord across the world, and, two years ago, that path led them to Miracle Valley. “The inspiration for being here was the voice of God telling me to move forward,” Luis Bettencourt said Thursday, standing in the middle of the compound’s decades-old chapel. Built in the 60s, the chapel once was the headquarters of the popular ministry of revivalist A.A. Allen, who’s work here still inspired Bettencourt. “There’s a rich history here, and it shouldn’t just die off,” he said.
They first visited the property several years ago, even eating lunch with a previous owner. After offering to partner with two previous owners in exchange for working on cleaning up and repairing the various buildings on the property and having his offer declined, Luis and Rose returned to Oklahoma, where they had previously lived while attending the Rhema Bible College. There, they started their first ministry, a small outreach focused on young people, but always kept looking for an opportunity to return to Miracle Valley.
That chance presented itself in 2014. “I basically stepped out in faith, with zero pennies. I made an offer, and they accepted it. They told me they needed a certain amount for a down payment, and I said yes, but I still didn’t have the money, because this property here is all about miracles and faith and everything else,” Luis said.
Where some look at the Miracle Valley compound and see only a dilapidated chapel pockmarked with broken or boarded up windows, or a reminder of the fatal confrontation in 1982 between local law enforcement and members of the Christ Miracle Healing Center and Church, the Bettencourts saw opportunity, inspiration and a chance to build upon the compound’s early history. “The history here is not only for Arizona, but for around the world. We’ve had people show up here from Australia, from Africa. All because A.A. Allen did the groundwork and laid that foundation years back,” Luis said. Rose added, “This is a time capsule. People just want to see. They cry when they come here, they pray when they come here. They walk around and just want to know everything.”
Luis first moved onto the property two years ago, and was joined by his wife several months later, living first in a fifth wheel camper while working to restore the central building into a livable space. Luis Bettencourt scrapes the flooring of the prayer tower Thursday. Bettencourt and his wife, Rose, have been busy with the cleanup and repair work around the compound. The extensive work needed to restore the 80-acre property was never overwhelming, however. “As soon as I got onto the grounds, … I was like a kid in Disneyland. I was so happy to be here,” Luis said.
Their days now are spent working on restoring the various buildings on the property, including the large chapel, it’s roof partially collapsed and the rafters home to owls. “It was just a mess. Birds were flying in and out of here, nesting. It took me three days, over Labor Day weekend, to clear it all out by myself,” he said.
About a year ago, after months of greeting curious neighbors and ongoing cleanup efforts, they began holding prayer meetings, and this past autumn, full-fledged services. “I perform the music and do the preaching,” said Rose, sitting on one of the many colorful donated couches that serve as pews in their service area, held in the same building they have made their home. “We have a handful that come here for service that are in their 80s, who came here in the days of AA Allen,” Rose said. “They’re happy that we’re here.”
While the foundation of the past serves as an inspiration, they are not seeking to duplicate it. Pastor Rose Bettencourt sits in the Miracle Valley Today temporary chapel. The comfy chairs and furnishings were donated by a Fort Huachuca hotel. “It’s not about restoring what was here before, it’s about restoring the property for what God’s going to do today,” Luis said. Hence, the Bettencourts have re-christened the compound Miracle Valley Today.
Their future plans for the property are as far reaching as they are varied, including not only accommodations for a retreat center for married couples, a youth and family camp, a site for revival meetings and a Bible Training Center,but also an area to grow food and farm fish, open a cafe and a small automotive service facility. “We have a lot of experience in a lot of things, and it seems like, now that we’re on this property, we’re pulling that all together,” Luis said. Rose added, “We’re this team that, we’re both creative in our own lanes, and together we get the job done.”
Unlike some previous owners, who have embarked on various renovation efforts on the property without proper permitting, the Bettencourts have received the necessary permits from the county to move forward, said Peter Gardner, a planner with Cochise County’s Community Development Department. “The planning and zoning commission permitted all of those uses. Now it’s just a matter of bringing them up to code and getting them operational again,” Gardner said. With support from neighbors, the county and, most importantly, their God, the Bettencourts are prepared to move forward with the extensive work ahead of them.
“There was a prophecy told by AA Allen right before he passed away, that this place would become desolate and dormant, that there would be tumbleweeds blowing all over the place, and then a new people would come in. Several people have claimed that. We’re not claiming that for ourselves, we’re just being obedient to what God wants us to do,” Luis said. For more information on the efforts of Luis and Rose Bettencourt, and for information on how to help, visit the Miracle Valley Today website. “There’s a rich history here, and it shouldn’t just die off.” – Luis Bettencourt
The Sierra Vista Herald
Sierra Vista Reporter
9210 E Miracle Valley Loop
Hereford, AZ 85615