What was originally intended to be a bed and breakfast east of Joseph has been transformed into a ministry to help all those in need in the area.
“It’s a family — the family of God,” said David Van Doozer, who with his wife of 30 years, Deanna, runs the Ekklesia of Almighty God Seventh Seal Ministries.
In fact, “family of God” is what the Greek word ekklesia means — the church, both in the sense of a local body of the faithful and the worldwide body of believers.
A former developer from the Portland area, David ran into financial difficulties losing two projects worth a combined $14 million. Rather than fight for it, he decided it was time to try something new.
“I was lost in sin,” he said. “When that happens, it’s easy for Satan to take control.”
In 1980, while attending to his mother who was dying of cancer, he said she had been hanging on long enough to see his life turn around. When he was able to assure her God was now in control, she was able to let go and go to be with Him.
He began “doing all the things” he believed he should be doing as a Christian, such as helping others, working in a Portland homeless shelter and feeding the hungry.
David said it took another three years for him to really believe he was saved, getting a bit teary-eyed as he described his life-changing experiences.
Eventually, the Van Doozers purchased their 5-acre spread along Liberty Road east of Joseph in 2012 with the idea of turning it into a bed and breakfast. But they just weren’t sold on the idea. That’s when they began exploring the idea of a nondenominational ministry. But even that plan ran into some difficulties.
Because Deanna was an experienced baker, the Van Doozers purchased the Wildflour Bakery business in Joseph owned by Roger “Pop” McCommon in April, 2012. It was in a building owned by Larry and Judy Willis. But soon after the Van Doozers purchased the business, Willis notified them in writing they were being evicted.
The Willises then accused the Van Doozers of damaging the premises while moving out and sued the Van Doozers. While a jury quickly acquitted David, the situation also led to his filing a civil suit for malicious prosecution, alleging the Willises unduly influenced the district attorney into pressing the criminal charges. Of this, too, he was vindicated, according to a Chieftain story from April 2017.
David, whose family hails from La Grande, said Deanna’s background is solidly Wallowa County. He said she even has ancestors dating to 1879 listed on the plaque of pioneers on the courthouse grounds.
“The Lord’s blessed us with everything we have here,” Deanna said. “Now we can give back to the Lord by helping people.”
Now, the Van Doozers open their doors to anyone in need, from locals with physical or spiritual troubles to students to acquaintances from far off.
David told of one woman who, after a tough youth and childhood, ended up on the streets in San Jose, Calif., for decades.
He urged the woman to come to Enterprise, get clean, sober and healthy and resist the temptation to return to her old life in San Jose.
“Here, she was around people who cared about her,” he said. “And we’ve done this with a multitude of people, but she’s a prime example.”
Now, the woman has been sober for 2½ years and even chairs local meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.
“God allows us to go through things so we can help other people,” Deanna noted, adding that’s what the woman from San Jose is doing now.
Deanna currently runs a preschool at Ekklesia. She said she is planning to open a Montessori School there in the spring. She is currently taking Montessori teacher training and is working on a human development degree with an emphasis on counseling and family studies.
She plans to do parent seminars, but “I’ll wait until I have a whole house.”
Locally, the Van Doozers provide food to the hungry. One of their prime offerings is a 1-pound bag of dried, 11-bean soup mix. Another happens when they have guests such as students from Joseph Charter School. Deanna puts her baking skills to work and whips up tasty treats the kids enjoy.
“They love it” when Deanna bakes,” David said.