Al Hollingsworth: Who's the Real Boss?
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Meet the landlords of the Ponderosa. In 1992, Al and Hattie Hollingsworth bought the land that was the California location of the Bonanza television series. Al and Hatti’s private Christian resort is a place for relaxation, training conferences and learning how to make dreams a reality. The Hollingsworths know about following dreams. Al received his life’s direction when he was knocked out during a college football game.
“I was knocked unconscious and was out, I’m told, for about 10 minutes,” he tells The 700 Club. “I am very clear of a voice that spoke to me that I would be a successful businessman for God’s glory. That began to change my life.”
After graduation, Al was recruited in sales by a paper and packaging manufacturer. In just a few, short years, he was on his way to starting his own packaging company.
“I’m so busy catching all the blessings of God that I forget that He was the one who sent it,” Al recalls. “I began saying, ‘Just a minute, God. I’ll be with You in just a minute. Let me take care of this deal. Let me do that. Then I’ll be with You. I’ll be right there.'”
Al hired an eager young salesperson named Hattie. She rose in sales in his company, and then she married the boss.
“We were considered wealthy and successful business people, but our lives were falling apart,” Al says.
Hattie concurs, “Al and I both being in the same place kind of backslid. We knew the Lord. We [made an effort] to do the right thing, but we were not in the right place.”
One day on the racquetball court, Al’s world came to a sudden halt when he collapsed from a heart attack. Al says that he quickly turned to God for help.
“I’m starting to find myself negotiating,” he says. “'If You spare my life, I’ll do this, and I’ll do that. If You do me this, I’ll give You that.’ I’m still finding I can’t breathe. I pass that stage of negotiation -- not working, not hearing from Him. I’m now moving into just begging and pleading. I’m saying, ‘Oh, God, please don’t take me. Don’t let me die.’
“At that moment, God showed me that all of my good works were like filthy rags. I had done these things to manipulate, to get favor, to win friends politically. But, it wasn’t for Him. It wasn’t for the kingdom. It wasn’t the goodness of my heart. It was all manipulative.”
He continues, “So, at this point, I’m saying, ‘Oh, God, forgive me -- a sinner. I blew it. Forgive me.’ I was surrendering myself again to Him.”
Al made a full recovery from the heart attack and drew closer to the Lord. But, as time passed, he found himself once again drifting away from his relationship with God.
“I forgot again,” he confesses.
Hattie recalls, “We had not spent that quality time with the Lord. So, when the business went bankrupt, He had our full, undivided attention. We were in hot pursuit of wanting to hear His voice, wanting to get direction, wanting to get understanding.”
Al and Hattie watched The 700 Club every morning. One day they took a bold step.
“We recommitted our lives through The 700 Club in January 1977,” Hattie says. “We knew that morning, when we heard that invitation, all that we were going through, it was like throwing yourself on the altar. Just in our bedroom, the two of us [were] weeping and just really wanting the Lord to take control of our lives. That was a turning point.”
But, Al still needed to hear from God about the direction of his life and business.
“I was on a desperate search for reconnecting,” he says. “I wanted Him more than I wanted what I wanted. I wanted His heart in me. I didn’t trust my heart anymore.”
Al earnestly sought God until, he says, “I all of a sudden heard a voice. That voice again spoke to me as it did when I was knocked unconscious. That voice was, ‘Alfred, what do you want?’
“What He was saying to me was that I could now again trust the conditions of the desires of my heart, because my desires were no longer my desires. My desires were His desires. What came out of that was a ministry. The first thing is that we entered into a new covenant. The covenant is: ‘You take care of My business, Alfred, and I’ll take care of your business.’”
Al and Hattie started Christian business ministries. They developed a program called B.O.S.S., which stands for Building on Spiritual Substance. It was created to give children principles of entrepreneurship through Godly self-esteem.
Al and Hattie are committed to keeping their promise to take care of God’s business first.
Hattie says, “We don’t ever want to be separated from God again. God is our source.”
Al adds, “I go back to those places of ‘just a minute, Lord.’ Whenever I do that, there’s a tug in my spirit. Thank God that I have that unrest. It tells me that He loves me, and He’s drawing me back home again."