NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (BP) — Hiding Place Hollow was born out of a vision that God had given to Mike and Susan Phillips to help provide quality homes for missionaries who were home on furlough. The couple felt God was leading them to build 10 homes and that He would provide everything they needed, completely debt free.
By August of 2022, three of the homes had been completed with two more homes being framed and roughed in. In the 16 months since, five houses have now been completed. Peace Home opened in March of 2023, and Hope Home opened last November. Currently, three of the homes are occupied by missionaries, one by the caretakers of the grounds, and the fifth home is set to be occupied in just a few short weeks.
Ground has been broken on building number six, which will also serve as a meeting place for those staying at Hiding Place Hollow. The main floor will consist of a fellowship hall, kitchen, giant family room and a small library. Above this space will be a 700-square-foot apartment that will serve as a residence for a single missionary or a missionary couple without kids.
In addition, all the infrastructure has been completed for the remaining homes. All utilities including water and electricity have been run. One-thousand-two-hundred feet of concrete has been laid along with a guardrail leading up to the houses located on the ridge. In addition, all the roads have been roughed in leading to each of the future home sites.
Making it personal
Mike and Susan want everyone to see the need and understand the importance of providing adequate homes for these missionaries. They have heard multiple stories from missionaries who are worn out, burned out or stressed out, who come home with a need to recoup and recover only to face additional obstacles. Housing is not only limited but space is often inadequate. Many find themselves constantly on the move from one place to another during their time in the States.
Susan Phillips says that is what makes this ministry so different.
“Many missionaries cry when they see the homes because they are so overwhelmed with how much thought is put into them,” she said.
Before the missionaries arrive, a picture of the family is placed in the home. The pantry is filled with supplies and gift baskets are provided with gift cards and other useful items. The missionaries are asked in advance to provide a list of things they want personally. A fresh bouquet of flowers is placed in each home as well.
Susan tells the story of one missionary mom who had trouble sleeping while on the field for over three years. It took some time, but after a few months in the new home, the mom was finally able to relax and sleep through the night for the first time in years. The family stayed for six months and have rebooked for three years from now when they return on furlough.
Conserving and enjoying nature
In addition to the homes, atmosphere plays an important role in the ministry of Hiding Place Hollow. This past summer, Mike and Susan received special recognition and an award during an Arkansas Game and Fish banquet for their part in a massive conservation effort involving two major stream projects at Hiding Place Hollow. In partnership with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) and the Beaver Lake Watershed, boulders have been put in place, the creek bank has been lowered and good grass has been planted to help with flooding and to help clean up the water which impacts the water flowing into Beaver Lake. More than $300,000 was spent on the project with the majority of the funds coming from AGFC and the Beaver Lake Watershed. Although not Christian organizations, Mike says the partnership is evidence of how God is providing the help and resources needed to complete the project.
A Missouri Baptist group recently built a 12×12 tree house platform complete with a slide, where missionary children can gather and play. Kids and families can gather at the creek, enjoying the peace and calm that nature provides. The property also has streams, a prayer garden and more beautification spots in the works.
Meeting an urgent need
In the three and a half years since God gave them the vision for Hiding Place Hollow, Mike and Susan have seen the urgency of the need firsthand. All of the existing houses are currently booked through the end of 2024, and three of the homes are already booked for 2025. Most families stay an average of six months at a time. Mike says the need is so great that they are now having to say no to a missionary family at least once every four weeks. Most of the missionaries are referred from other missionaries or from missions pastors. The International Mission Board has also requested space for some of their missionaries on a temporary basis.
There is still a need for individuals and churches to help. Funding is needed for materials as well as for ongoing monthly expenses. More than $400,000 of the donations raised so far have come from individual gifts of $2,000 or less. In addition to funding, there is also a need for skilled teams and individuals like bricklayers, roofers, construction workers, etc.