Carla and Dave Hillard are members of World Vision's National Leadership Council. This is their story.
Reading a book by Luci Swindoll, Carla Hillard learned about women and girls in Kenya who walk miles every day to access water—dirty water!—their families needed for survival. As she read, Carla became convinced that God was calling her to witness firsthand the crisis these women faced. So when her pastor extended an invitation to go to Zambia, Carla and her husband Dave agreed to go.
The One who loved women and girls in Kenya also loved Carla, and had been gently ministering healing to her heart. Before Carla had met her husband Dave, she’d suffered early childhood abuse and also endured an abusive marriage that her father had arranged. When the marriage ended in divorce, Carla faced the stigma of being a single parent. For a long time, Carla kept the story of her abuse secret. But over time, God began challenging Carla to share her story.
|Carla with the women's group in Zambia|
So when Carla was invited to speak to a group of African women, gathered together from several different villages, she reasoned, “God, I think I can do it in Africa where no one knows me.”
In response to hearing Carla’s story, thirty women opened up, some for the very first time, about their own stories of survival. One by one they described the traumas they’d endured through early childhood marriage, loss of children, domestic abuse, hunger, and the lack of clean water.
Emboldened by Carla’s message about their inherent and undeniable value to God, the last woman to share her story challenged the other women in the group to care for orphans in their own communities who were treated as outcasts. Just as Carla discovered new life and healing as she responded in obedience by sharing her story, these women were also being challenged to walk in God’s way by reaching out and making a difference beyond themselves.
God was also tugging at Dave’s heart.
|The Hillards with little Bertha|
Dave was gripped by God’s calling when he met a little girl in Zambia named Bertha. Bertha was nine years old, the age of Dave and Carla’s youngest child. Rather than going to school, Bertha walked eight miles a day, all alone, to carry a forty-pound water bucket on her head so her family could have water. In the face of this young stranger, Dave imagined the couple’s own daughter walking alone, vulnerable and unprotected. In that moment, Dave understood what God wanted from him: clean water for Bertha. And while his first response was to sell everything his family owned and live on the streets, God led him to a more sustainable path: working harder in his career to be able to give more away.
Today, both Carla and Dave feel called to bring hope to the world’s abused and neglected—from their home in South Dakota, to Zambia, and everywhere in between. As a result they’ve seen their own lives transformed. Like thirty women in Zambia who were inspired and energized to care for the most vulnerable in their own villages, the Hillards’ lives have been transformed by saying “yes” to God’s call. They explain, “We believe our engagement with World Vision has lifted up God’s name and simultaneously transformed our own lives. We are thankful to have heard about the needs of the abused and neglected and to have been asked to be part of the solution.”
Would you like to be part of the solution? Email the National Leadership Council helpdesk to find out how to take a next step.