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Summer Edition | June 14, 2014

Peace for Eckhardt Missions at Hillcrest Senum Finds Passion Chinese Student Meets Jesus for First Time Students at Hillcrest unite during prayer day as Principal Jeff Isaac leads the Spritual formations gathering, a long-standing tradition at HLA.

Preparing Students for More Than College

Jeff Isaac | Hillcrest Principal

Hillcrest students testify to lives changed through Biblically-based Christian education. Today’s high school students find themselves under immense pressure to conform to the thinking of this world. Many find themselves in desperate need of transformation in what they believe about God, the way they act, and the way they think. They need a renewing of their mind, to be moved from where they are right now into a deeper and more intimate relationship with the one true God. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

avenues God traveled with our students this year, we know that God is working at Hillcrest Academy, and it is our mission that students learn, live, and go out from Hillcrest for the glory of God. Hillcrest’s program is apologetic in nature. With the Bible as a chief text used in each class, students understand how Christianity explains God better than New Age philosophy, why a Christian perspective of government is more beneficial to mankind than Marxism and what happens when humanistic science replaces a Biblical approach to God’s world. Students at Hillcrest are faced with a Biblical worldview, and many walk away proclaiming confidence in the faith of their parents and grandparents.

While at Hillcrest, students receive a holistic education that touches their heart, mind, and soul. Students are challenged to engage their culture, to be Christian in their thinking and actions, and to use their gifts to honor God and advance His kingdom.

As you pursue the best educational environment for your high school student, I encourage you to check us out. Look through the information available in this publication or on our web site, and give us a call. We have people ready to provide you with even more information that can help you in training your student to discern the world and live actively with confidence.

It is the experience of many that God changes at Hillcrest. This small publication highlights some stories from this past year. For some God will met them on a mission trip. For others God spoke through a godly and caring instructor. For still others it is a mentoring dean and friends that God used to draw them closer to Him. Discovering the

Our mission is to equip students in a Christcentered Bible based environment for a life of significance. We would be honored to partner with your family in educating your child in the way they should go; with confidence in their faith in Jesus Christ and support from their parents and local church.





For more information, or to schedule a tour, please contact Wayne Stender at Hillcrest Academy (218.739.3371 |


Jason You spent three years in Fergus Falls at Hillcrest Academy. The city, and Hillcrest, are now a second home Jason looks forward to revisiting in the future. Junior Jonathan Eckhardt communicates how past preparation has given him hope despite present obstacles.

Eckhardt Sees Purpose Through Past Preparation Brandon Doering | Hillcrest Graduate It is hard to find a reason why bad things happen. Adages promising hope and future are shallow when unexpected tragedies occur. Yet, inspite of difficult times there is often a rationalizing that takes place to reason through hard situations. Sometimes God’s reasons are more compelling than man’s thinking. This is the current case for Hillcrest junior Jonathan Eckhardt and the difficult road he is facing. One year ago Jonathan’s dad was diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma, a deadly form of cancer. The illness was a shock for the Eckhardt family. However, family life prior to the diagnosis formed a strong bond that not only strengthened Jonathan’s faith, but strengthened his family spiritually, helping them grow closer together as a family for the long road ahead. Jonathan believed in Jesus for as long as he can remember. Going to church with his family, he knows he is a Christian because he sees the church’s teaching consistent with reality. During his elementary years, he participated in Junior Bible Quiz (JBQ), a competition where team members are quizzed on their knowledge of the Bible. Jonathan knows the Bible well because of this competition. Jonathan, his older brother David, and his younger sister Hannah attended Morning Son Christian School from kindergarten through sixth grade, where his younger brother Matthew is currently attending as a second grader. The Christian school experience gave Jonathan and his siblings a good foundation and understanding of the Bible, something needed as the family faces uncertain times ahead. Finishing sixth grade at Morning Son, Jonathan’s parents gave him a choice; he could either attend the local public high school, or attend Hillcrest Academy. Although both his parents went to public school, Jonathan decided he would attend 2|

Hillcrest his seventh grade year. The choice was an opportunity to not only continue in his education with friends, but continue building his faith in Christ. The Christ-centered environment made his Hillcrest experience special, helping strengthen him for unforeseen struggles and tests developing in his father’s health. Jonathan’s past prepared him for this current test of faith, his dad’s cancer. The cancer attacking his father’s body has created a need for Jonathan to manage additional responsibilities that come with living in the country, staying on top of school work, and caring for his father. A lot of additional pressure to place on the shoulders of a junior in high school. However, with support from family and friends, and a trust in God built through his Christian education, Jonathan and his family are going through the tests building an even greater relationship with each other, and with God. Since Jonathan’s Dad has been unable to work throughout the past year, Jonathan and his family were unsure whether or not he and his sister Hannah (an eighth grader at Hillcrest) would be able to continue attending Hillcrest. Before the start of the year they discovered someone paid for their first semester tuition. This was a magnificent surprise and a true blessing from God; an answer to prayer that the Eckhardts are very grateful for. Prayer and support from family and friends has transformed a dire situation into a season of refined hope. Recent reports show a decrease in the cancer, and the Eckhardts are praying and believing they will see a full recovery. Jonathan’s faith formation through Morning Son and Hillcrest is enabling him and his family to remain strong through this difficult time, finding hope through past preparation.

Reconnecting Cultures Jason You | Hillcrest Graduate I visited America when I was in sixth grade. In 2006 my dad and I traveled along the west coast of the United States. Five years later I decided to come to the USA again with a different purpose, to attend high school at Hillcrest Academy in Fergus Falls. I love Fergus Falls. The quiet streets are covered with trees, and the beautiful lakes are very pleasant. There are over 20 million people in Seoul, South Korea, where I currently live. It is very busy. The population and commuters make the streets incredibly chaotic. Most people live in apartments, which I think is distracting, as many people don’t have privacy. People in Seoul don’t spend much time with their families, or even spend time in quietness, because they are too busy. In Fergus Falls I have noticed people spend more time together and talk more with each other. During my time at Hillcrest I have learned that I should build my relationships with people rather than focus completely on my work. Hillcrest has many students from different nations. There have been approximately twenty Koreans attending Hillcrest for the past few years. A special development for the Koreans in Hillcrest is Korean devotions. Every Saturday the Korean students meet in the chapel to encourage each other in spiritual growth. We use this time to share the words of God, to talk about our story, and to grow up spiritually. We sing worship songs and share prayer requests after we have a devotional from the Bible. Korean devotions are important because it is the only time we can talk about serious topics that impact us as Koreans. I met many good people in Hillcrest, but if someone asked me about a special thing from Hillcrest that I will miss, I will say the Koreans. It has been such a good time for me; sharing burdens and difficult challenges that are going on inside of me that only fellow Koreans can understand.

Kat, and her friend Lydia, relax at the playground of an orphanage for students with disabilities.

Senum Discovers Purpose in D.R. Elisabeth Peterson | Hillcrest Graduate Kat Senum, a senior this year at Hillcrest, had the opportunity to travel with her class to the Dominican Republic during Easter Break. Her reason for attending the mission trip was to share the hope and salvation of Jesus Christ with people in desperate need. “I wanted to be sent out and used by God to bring glory to His name,” Kat explained.

Maddie Veum joined a church mission experience in Mexico. Her training at Hillcrest gave her confidence to share Christ with those she met on her week long church-based experience.

Students Receive Life-changing Lessons in Missions Program Hillcrest’s missions program is an intentional part of its education program. Starting a concerted effort to expose students to foreign cultures almost ten years ago, the program has evolved to include a local missions class, inner-city church support, Students for Life team, Chicago field experience and Dominican and Mexico mission trips. Going on a Missions Trip strongly encourages developing a personal testimony. Sophie Iverson, a Hillcrest Junior, notes cross-cultural experiences are transformational. “I had actually been waiting for something or someone to encourage me to write my testimony. So in doing that I analyzed what God had done in my life and how many blessings he has given me.” The internalization of a student’s faith compels contemplation to the reality of God in the world, and the difference God’s existence makes. Developing a personal relationship with Jesus through Bible studies, chapel services and classroom instruction, Hillcrest students are propelled to share their faith in challenging environments. Some students have traveled into inner-city Minneapolis to share the truth of God’s love in the Phillips neighborhood. Hillcrest students in past years have worked to support the local churches in this ethnic part of Minneaplis, while receiving training in community development and understanding the difference a church makes in a diverse and sometimes fragmented community. Students today travel throughout Fergus Falls, working at the food shelf, supporting the recess at Morning Son Christian School and facilitating a mentorship program for Hillcrest Junior High students. The program works to train students in a Biblical view of poverty alleviation, whether the work consists

Amanda Doiron | Hillcrest Senior of building community, raising funds or providing meals for hungry families. This transition from the Minneapolis inner-city training to local community development is a special component of the Local Missions class at Hillcrest Academy. Hillcrest’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) department also engages in a missional activity. Students Travel to the FermiLab, Argonne Laboratory, Field Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago’s incredible museum district. Walking through secular explanations presenting the world without God, Hillcrest’s STEM students are challenged to engage in meaningful dialogue with other museum goers, challenging assumptions and raising big questions about intelligence and design within the complex universe presented. Hillcrest’s cross-cultural trips bring students to the Dominican Republic, following a long investment in a series of orphanages and churches in Mexico in past years. The Dominican Republic mission involves an adoption of a Christian school in San Pedro, Dominican Republic. The school has received such encouragement from Hillcrest’s commitment to aid in their purchase and building a school, that they have started a cross-cultural mission experience for their school, visiting the elderly in impoverished areas in the Dominican Republic. Many comment that Hillcrest’s program gives students so much more than a diploma. One of the ways students receive more than a high school education at Hillcrest is through continued mission work. The unwavering resolve to train students to know God’s world, develop a passionate love for the world compelled by Jesus Christ and make known the Truth of God to all people, is a testimony to what makes Hillcrest Academy a Christian school equipping students for a life of significance.

Once the team arrived in the Dominican Republic, Kat detailed how students began ministering on a basketball court across from the mission house minutes after arriving to the mission house. “I was overwhelmed with joy, excitement, and energy. I’ve never been so excited to be sweaty and tired.” She also shared how the night caused her team to deal with their fear in the language barrier separating them and the local kids, but she immediately added that the Lord didn’t allow that stumbling block to stop them. Kat was able to connect specifically with a girl at one of the orphanages the team visited through their week in the Dominican Republic. The girl’s name was Lydia, an eleven year old with Down’s Syndrome. “I never had the eyes to see what kids in an orphanage were going through, but I was able to be there to see her just want to help and be a friend to everyone.” Kat described how helpful and joyful Lydia was, regardless of her seemingly limiting condition. Kat acknowledged the strong impact Lydia, and the others in the orphanage, had on her. “Lydia doesn’t have the opportunities I do. I’ve never had anything physically or mentally holding me back. But she just pushed through her setbacks despite it all.” The two new friends were able to spend hours together playing and laughing. As difficult as the good-byes were at the end of the day, Kat rests in the hope of seeing Lydia again, ultimately in Heaven restored, with no language barriers. Many students agree that a mission trip experience is “eye-opening”. However, Kat explained how life-changing the week was for her. Through the Dominican culture, she learned to be herself. Through their worship, she learned praise is not about what others think, because, as she noted, “it’s my praise to the Lord.” Even as she prepares for graduation and her future, suddenly she’s been able to take on a new perspective. In a pursuit aimed to glorify God, Kat is leaning toward a mission program and a degree in elementary/special education. “We’re all being sent out. Now I refuse to just sit and watch. I want to end up wherever the will of God leads me - being a disciple on whatever mission field it is that He leads me.


Han graduated from Hillcrest with a convinced faith in Jesus Christ.

Han Knows Jesus Kara Nash | Hillcrest Senior Despite heartache and questions, Han Gao found comfort and peace by studying the Bible and establishing a family at Hillcest Academy. Born and raised in China, Han had a different upbringing than most of his western friends. Han had no opportunity to develop personal faith in Jesus Christ in China. Because of this, he didn’t think about religion or religious ideas, commenting that the topics were never introduced to him. In 2011, Han went to an American boarding school in Boston, Massachusetts. The school was not religious, and international students were isolated from Americans. Through the challenges Kara has faced, her refined faith is a compelling testimony of God’s love and faithfulness.

Nash Finds Hope In Dark Places Kara Nash | Hillcrest Senior Going to church every Sunday, daily prayers and a loving Christian family made me a stereotypical church girl. I never experienced great pain or heartache, and was sure my life would never consist of such things. When my dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, my fifth-grade world wasn’t perfect like I imagined it. Cancer didn’t make sense to me. Creating a small bump in my ideal world, I was sure it would quickly go away and life as I knew it would resume. eighteen months of treatment left my dad cancer-free as I prophesied. However, three short months later a cancerous tumor was found in my father’s brain. The cancer bomb dropped on my dad’s head was downright frustrating. Despite my father’s unwavering faith in God, I struggled to make sense of God’s will. Pain and sorrow filled me, and I was lost. Where had God gone? Surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, hair loss and extreme behaviors caused by the tumor were painful to watch. The constant physical battle ended on August 19th, 2011. Death is surreal. I still sit at home waiting for my dad to come through the door and play the piano. I watch baseball in my basement waiting for him to bring down a bowl of buttered popcorn, a smile and excitement to spend time with me. There won’t be a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. School started again for me one week after my dad’s death. Walking the halls, I expected a motionless world. Everyone moved, but I stood still as reality kicked-in; my life changed. Fall turned to winter and I slowly recuperated. Thanksgiving arrived and family reunited as my mom told us she was bat4|

tling breast cancer alone since the weekend after my dad’s death. There is no explanation to the emotions in listening to my mom’s battle. Psalm 38 resonated with me, where David talks about being feeble, utterly crushed, and having an anguished heart. My previous experience with cancer led me to believe my mom’s stage 1 cancer was fatal. Sleepless tear-filled nights concerned my mom. Depression tests revealed a score of sixteen, six points beyond a depression diagnoses. The confirmed test finally revealed who I was trying to hide. Prescribed sleeping pills and depression medication caused nausea. Frequent absences from school led to failing classes as I hit rock bottom in failing to be the real Kara. God was forgotten in the blur that had become my life. Miracle is the only word to describe how the story changes. In March of 2012 God picked me up and gave me a change of heart. He turned my life around and gave me peace. God gave me a life message. He gave a choice in the Garden of Eden and we chose sin. As a result, every person deserves hell. Hell is real! We are destined to it, but God sent His perfect son to earth to take-on flesh and die our death on the cross. He has victoriously resurrected, and as we believe in Him we have a hope and promis of living eternally in Heaven. Life is so freeing when we receive the gift of Jesus. Life doesn’t need to be smiles and giggles when bad things happen. Sadness is okay, but remember the joy found only in Christ. Let it shine everyday.

While in Boston, Han received news that his father had a heart attack and passed away. While trying to cope with the pain and sorrow, Han returned to China to be with his mother. The next school year Han and his mother decided he should go back to America, but to a different school. Searching many different American schools, Han’s mother found Hillcrest and thought it would be a good fit for him. Even though she is not a Christian, Han’s mom thought a faith-based environment would be comforting as Han grieved the loss of his father. Now a senior, Han has learned the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Through his two years attending Hillcrest, Han understands the Gospel and God’s love, and has accepted it as truth. Han’s father’s passing still occupies his throughts. Han’s father was a generous and hardworking man who did many great things. In working through the void left by his father’s passing, Han finds prayer and discussion with his brothers in the dorm encouraging. He shares that he has peace and answers despite facing uncertainty and hard times. Because of Han’s faith in God, he has grown to experience peace and comfort in Jesus Christ. Worrying about things occupied Han’s thinking before his time at Hillcrest, but now he has a focus on other people after finding purpose through faith in Christ. Han spends most of his time caring for his fellow Hillcrest students, especially those working to assimilate from other countries. Han is also ministering to his mother, notably by sending her a Bible last year in the mail. Han has had meaningful conversations with his mom following this act of love, finding his mother honestly serarching and testing the Scriptures. Han hopes that she will understand and come to know the Heavenly Father.

HLA Today Summer Issue  

Hillcrest's unique experience is communicated in powerful testimonies in this summer edition of HLA Today.

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