Hilda Bradney, a Garden Spot Village resident since November 2016, spends much of her time investing in the next generation. With more than 55 years of ministry experience in the United States, Costa Rica and Paraguay, she finds joy in pouring wisdom into the lives of her students at the University of Valley Forge (UVF).
When Hilda and her husband Bill returned to the United States in 2002 after serving with Assemblies of God World Missions in Costa Rica and Paraguay, they began an assignment as missionaries-in-residence at UVF, where they had met more than 40 years earlier. They taught and lectured, “persecuting the saints” as Bill says with a grin. For several years Hilda chaired the Department of Intercultural Studies, and together Bill and Hilda taught and connected with the students, encouraging them in their vision for intercultural ministry. They enjoyed leading student mission trips to the countries in which they had served, with former students hosting them.
Hilda now serves as an adjunct professor and coordinates international internships. During the spring 2018 semester she taught one seated class and two online classes in addition to coordinating summer internships for students majoring in Intercultural Studies. In the fall 2018 semester she hopes to scale back her involvement.
“We admire the students so much,” Hilda says. “They are so committed to serving God, many in challenging contexts. They inspire us.”
Hilda especially enjoys preparing students for their intercultural, and in most cases, international internships. “I spend a lot of time researching placements for the students; for many, this becomes their first job or service career, so I am very careful to match them to the right internship.”
In addition to making these assignments, Hilda teaches the internship seminar, preparing and debriefing the students. Before the students leave for their assignments, Hilda and Bill host a commissioning luncheon in their Geranium Court home. In preparation for the luncheon the students are charged with learning a few key phrases in the language of the community they will serve. Hilda laughs, “I won’t know what they are saying, unless it’s in Spanish, but it’s in their best interest to learn those phrases anyway!”
One of the internship requirements is to keep a daily journal, which helps the students process their experiences and feelings. “When they are outside their comfort zone—without cell phones, social media, friends and crutches to lean on—it’s the best time for them to grow and to ask God for his help,” says Hilda.
Another assignment is to make a growth chart on which they identify areas in which they need to grow, then track their growth during their overseas service. Hilda says, “When students take the growth chart seriously, they usually experience emotional, relational, professional and spiritual growth.”
Hilda and Bill also host a story party and debriefing session for the students when they return. During the story party, which is also held in Hilda and Bill’s home, the students share stories from their overseas experiences and reconnect with their classmates.
Maria Garate, a recent UVF graduate, completed her internship at a small rural New Jersey church serving many ethnicities. She focused on church revitalization and evangelism and has been asked to stay on as assistant pastor.
Maria says, “Sister Hilda and Brother Bill have such a passion for God and for equipping the next generation to reach those without the hope of Jesus Christ. They were pioneers on the mission field. They have done so much and are still just as eager to share with students and impact lives. I am eternally grateful for the impact they have had in my time at the University of Valley Forge; they are truly an example of what God can do in a life that is fully surrendered to Him.”
Hilda says, “We feel totally blessed to be a tiny link in a chain of blessing the world.”