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Helping shape lives that will change the future.

Hildebrand Family


July 2009

Hildebrand Family is Heading to Africa!

We are so excited about what God is doing in our lives! Only a year ago we never would have imagined that God had any kind of change for us. His plan for us is so much bigger than anything we could come up with. The purpose for this letter is threefold: to share with you how this change for our family came about, what we will do in Kenya, and what we must do over the coming months to make this happen.

Africa Bound?

First of all, Africa bound?! Where in the world did this change come from? Jennifer and I have always had hearts that are sensitive toward missions. In August of 2008, some friends of ours moved to Africa as missionaries. When we heard of the school their boys were attending, God began to move in our hearts. Just a year earlier this family was in our church, and their boys were in our youth ministry. The more we learned about the school they were attending, the more we fell in love with Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya!

Just after learning the name of the school and a few other brief details, Jennifer was talking with a good friend of ours. We knew Andrea grew up on the mission field in Africa, but few other details. When Jennifer told her about this school that we were looking into, Andrea exploded with excitement! This was where she grew up! She had nothing but praise for her years at RVA. Since then, we have been greatly surprised by the number of people God has brought into our lives who either attended RVA or know someone who has.

What is RVA?

Rift Valley Academy is a ministry of Africa Inland Mission. Founded in 1906, this school is primarily for missionary kids, but many others have parents who are doctors, diplomats, or local Kenyans. The purpose statement for the academy is “shaping lives to change the future.” With graduates going on to Westpoint, Harvard, Yale, the Air Force Academy, and other prestigious schools, it can be said that this school truly is living up to its purpose statement.

The purpose for my and Jennifer’s ministry has been “To bring youth into a maturing relationship with Jesus Christ.” This has been the mission statement for my life since answering God’s call to full-time youth ministry in 1984.

God is not changing our call to work with teenagers. He is definitely changing the setting in which we minister!

There are 450 students in RVA from kindergarten through 12th grade. Students live at the school for three months, then go home to their family for one month, giving the school year three trimesters. Many of the current staff at RVA have attended the school as students and have now come back with families of their own so they can invest in students’ lives just as others have invested in theirs.

The Boys’ Reaction

So we asked our boys what they thought. Baboons in the back yard? Dirt bikes? Live in a dorm with your friends? Let’s go! They actually gave it a little more thought than that, just a little. They found out it would mean giving up football, but they would be gaining rugby!

Jennifer and I have read stories from missionaries to the boys quite often, so when we asked them what they thought about moving to the mission field, they thought it was great. The only hesitancy they had was when they thought about leaving some of their friends. The hardest will be leaving grandparents and other family members. The boys have such a good perspective. Every night before bed Trevon, our youngest, includes in his prayers, “…and help us God to tell the kids in Africa about Jesus.” We are so thankful that God put the call and excitement in each of our boys!

What Will We Do at RVA?

At the school we will probably be dorm parents for Jr. high boys. We will live with a group of about 20 boys who will call us “Aunt Jennifer,” and “Uncle Bill”. Our family, including our boys, will have an apartment attached to the dorm. I will be leading devotions, helping with homework, tucking them in at night, and trying to fill in for their parents who are fulfilling their call to be missionaries on the field.

The locations of some missionaries are too dangerous at the time for their kids to remain with them. Most American missionaries homeschool their kids on the field, but as their student gets older the need for more specialized teaching grows. What a great privilege for Jennifer and I to come and help these missionaries with the final years of molding and shaping their kids.

There are numerous other possibilities of what we may be doing, I could teach Bible class, or become the school’s youth pastor. Thanks to receiving a seminary degree this past May, the possibilities are great.

Students go back home to their families during the one month break between each of the three trimesters. We are encouraged to visit families who are missionaries out in the field. That helps us to get to know the families, understand their ministry, and even help them on the field. Near RVA is an AID’s orphanage, hospital and other opportunities for our family to serve. There will always be lots of work to be done.

How do we Get to Kenya?

In June, 2009, we drove to Pearl River, NY, to the headquarters of Africa Inland Missions, USA. Near the end of our week there, we learned that our family had been accepted as “appointees” to RVA.

We also learned how much money we had to raise for our family. We must have $6,700 in monthly commitments and $32,000 in our account for traveling expenses to get our family to Kenya. That covers all our living expenses, health, travel, rent, school for the boys, visas and other travel expenses, taxes (in U.S. and Kenya), and more. I must admit, when Jennifer and I heard how much we had to raise, it took our breath away. God brought Jennifer to Psalm 3:5 in her quiet time, “In the morning, oh Lord, you hear my voice, I lay my requests before you, and wait in anticipation.” (NIV)

Raising up a support team, and financial commitments to that amount is not impossible. In fact, it looks a lot easier like this: 67 people (or families) giving $100/month, or 134 people giving $50/month, or 268 people giving only $25/month.

For the next several months we will be presenting our ministry and asking people if they would like to be a part of our support team. What a blessing it has been to hear the word getting around, people telling others about our ministry in Kenya! God has begun an exciting time for the Hildebrand family!

Burn the Ships!

Well, that is what Cortez told his men when they arrived in the new world! As we prepare to go to our new world, we will thin out our stockpile of stuff we have accumulated. Pray for us as we put our house on the market.

We have a 2 year commitment with RVA. Near the end of that commitment we can prayerfully determine whether or not to continue for another two years.

We thank you for your prayers! Please consider one of these options for being a part of our support team:

  1. Prayer support: we commit to covering your family in prayer on a regular basis and praying for requests that you send through your prayer updates/email communications.

  2. Financial support: monthly or one time gifts.