James Hambelton, 39, of Enterprise, started out in Enterprise. He was born to Rick and Sharon Hambelton, and his dad worked with James’ granddad, Robert (Bob) Hambelton, in the family business of B & R Appliances on Depot Street.
The family moved to Walla Walla while James was young and he graduated from Walla Walla High School in 1998. He went to work for E&S Stubblefield Scrap Metal in the salvage yard in Walla Walla, but his interest was in another sort of salvage –– salvation.
He left for Mt. Zion School of Ministry in Grantville, Pa., in 1999, graduating in 2003 after serving one year as an intern in the Light of the World” interdenominational church in Stroudsburg, Pa., a job he loved.
He returned to Walla Walla to marry Taj Woodiwiss, granddaughter of Emory Stubblefield, and go back to work in the scrap yard while working as a volunteer minister for Follow Jesus Discipleship in Walla Walla.
James and Taj had three children, Isaac, 11; Caleb, 9; and Sarah, 5. All are home schooled by Taj.
James brought his young family back to Enterprise when James’ father died, and after the estate was settled, they remained. James had gotten a couple of weeks work with Brian Coughlan at Eastern Oregon Landscaping, and that quickly turned into a full-time job. He also had a goal to found a church to serve in. He is now a deacon at Abundant Life Assembly in Enterprise.
Q. Why did you decide to remain in Wallowa County?
A. Ultimately, we ended up staying because we found a “family” here and especially a church family. By family I mean people you relate well with. Also I love the scenery, I love the place, kind of the quietness of the community and the friendliness of it — it doesn’t feel like city mentality at all. It’s like being in the country but not too country — its not like being secluded in the mountains by yourself. You still have community connections with people.
Q. What has Wallowa County taught you?
A. One of the things I’ve noticed about our county is it is a little bit more of a slow pace. The quality of life in a slower pace is so much better; I can focus on priorities, taking more time with the family, the things that are more important in life and not feel like I’m always running to take care of things that aren’t priorities. It’s a hard- working community, too, so it’s taught me to work hard.
Q. Can you recall a children’s book that affected you strongly and can you recommend a book you’re reading now?
I can’t remember a book that really impacted me as a child. I can recommend a book my boys really loved, “Tortured for His Faith,” by Haralan Popov. It’s the story of a Christian minister from Bulgaria who spent 15 years in a communist prison camp. What was so fascinating was how he kept his faith through such difficult times. It left an impression that will be forever with me. I can also recommend “The Spirit-Filled Life” by Charles G. Finney (now available in paperback reprint). It’s an old classic one but very good. I love the classical Christian writers.