Muriel E. “Mother” Bell has been counseling people for nearly all of her 94 years, and now she has a public space to continue her ministry.
Before she was known as “Mother,” Bell moved around the country with her military husband and their two daughters, working as a nurse. She was employed at numerous military and Veterans Affairs hospitals.
Upon her husband’s retirement from the military in California in 1965, the family moved back to Killeen and the home they purchased in 1954.
“I wanted to be near a military base,” Bell said. “I loved the Army, and I enjoyed the people I met.”
She retired from nursing in 1966 and opened the first Bible bookstore in Killeen.
“She’s a trailblazer,” Larry Mitnaul said.
He and his wife, Yvonne Mitnaul, met “Mother” in the early 1990s at the Christian House of Prayer, where she has served a leadership role as the “Church Mother.”
Eventually, the bookstore was sold when Bell was diagnosed with colon and lung cancer. Four years later, she was cancer-free and working as a school nurse. After her husband’s death in
1989, she was moved into an assisted-living facility.
Living in the facility in 2000, “I saw so many elderly giving up,” she said. “I realized they must want to live and be content with who they are and where they are in their lives. They must have hope.”
She moved out of the complex and rented her own house, which became a bustling center for those in need, known as the Haven House of Prayer.
“I founded the Ministry of Hope and Reconciliation with the Ladies and Gentle Men of Integrity,” Bell said.
Two weeks ago, on Oct. 5, the ribbon was cut on the Outreach and Referral Headquarters for the Haven House of Prayer, 425 N. 38th St. in Killeen.
The building is across the street from Killeen High School, a move that is no coincidence. “The kids come over and there’s someone to talk to,” Bell said. “Older people are the foundation for the next generation. ... We have to lead the way or they’ll have nothing.”
On Thursdays, Larry Mitnaul teaches a business course at the center.
“We combine emotional and spiritual help with financial (help), for people to become whole,” he said.
The headquarters continues the work Bell has been doing for years.
“I refer (people) to Jesus first, for their spiritual needs,” Bell said. “Then, I refer them to services for their material needs.”
The center connects people with resources including housing assistance, senior services, legal assistance and programs for low-income families.
“She’s connected a lot of churches in the area,” Yvonne Mitnaul said. “She has her arms in everything, always recruiting people.”
Bell said her life has been good. “I survived (cancer) without chemo, and I became a new creature in Christ — mentally, physically, spiritually.”
It is this will to live that she wishes to share with everyone.