Get to Know the Hill Family
Justin is a 36-year-old Physician Assistant from Bridge City, Texas, who grew up in a loving Christian home attending church three times a week. Despite having great examples to follow, his understanding of Christianity resulted in a black-and-white, right-and-wrong religion that was more about what you don’t do. So baptism at age 14, “mainly out of a fear of NOT being baptized,” Justin says, steeled his views and a tendency towards judging over loving.
Justin recalls working at a Christian camp for sometimes troubled, inner-city kids called Camp of the Hills where as his faith began to mature, his eyes were opened to people “being” Jesus. He began learning to serve people without expectations and with a love that looked past their sin.
His first year at Abilene Christian University (ACU), he enrolled in mission classes in preparation for becoming a medical missionary. He also started dating Jill, who Justin says “had a heart full of love for others and a willingness to freely share it.”
Justin’s heart began to transform through the influence of Jill, a Honduras medical mission trip, and involvement in the inner-city New Life Church where he and Jill taught classes, led small groups, performed service projects, and shared meals with people very different from themselves. As they served selflessly, they not only impacted lives in their community, but Justin’s views and judgements were beginning to be replaced by a grace-filled love for others.
Jill is 36 years olds with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from ACU. She grew up with a mother who demonstrated her devout faith through her love of others, and although Jill’s dad didn’t attend church, he also had a caring heart. Jill recalls her parents developing relationships with children in difficult situations who needed rides and meals, and even one little girl who needed a home while her mother served time in jail.
Jill’s mother made sure that Jill and her sister went to church regularly and were involved. At 10 years of age, Jill was, in her words, “baptized into Jesus as her Lord and Savior.” Soon after, she and her family moved to Abilene, Texas and began attending Southern Hills Church of Christ, where Jill became involved in mission trips, community “prayer drives and walks” and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Their Path to Sao Luis
After graduating from ACU, Justin and Jill moved to San Antonio, Texas, where Justin worked as an ER Nurse and Jill worked for San Antonio ISD in a Title 1 District. Every day she saw children of abuse, neglect, malnutrition and homes without love. Five years later, Jill became the Education Coordinator at Urban Connection-San Antonio, a nonprofit organization whose mission was sharing the love of God by strengthening relationships and building community. She witnessed a raw, fearless faith that accepted people no matter how sinful their life was and heard prayers spoken with authority, conviction and faith that brought life, healing and forgiveness into people’s hearts.
Justin and Jill were married in Abilene, Texas on May 25, 2002 and their love for each other and faith in God grew. But, so did life’s tribulations.
In 2006, Justin faced the sudden unexpected death of his father, and between 2008 and 2010, Justin and Jill went through infertility issues which were financially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually draining. Finally through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), they were blessed with the birth of Caden.
Wanting to have more children, but not wanting to go through IVF again, they decided to become a certified foster family and welcomed two siblings into their family.
One day, they received a call from their caseworker who said she felt compelled to ask them if they would consider accepting another child…a newborn…with Down Syndrome…and a heart problem. She was hesitant because Justin and Jill had said they were not open to these challenges, and at the time their home was closed for new placements.
Justin and Jill prayed about it and concluded that if they believed God to be who He said He is and that He called them to this purpose, then either they needed to accept the opportunity He had given them, or they didn’t really have a faith at all.
They picked up newborn Rylee on April 12th, 2013, and on May 5th it was confirmed that Jill was pregnant. Soon they would have five children ages 5, 4, 3, 10 months and a newborn!
The next year brought more of life’s peaks and harsh valleys. In a brief three-month period, Rylee had open heart surgery, their daughter Addison was born, and they had a week-long trial fighting for custody of their two foster siblings which ended in a placement with the children’s biological grandparents. Through heartbreak over the loss of two children they loved deeply and fought to adopt, Justin and Jill say, “Our God gives and takes away, and we experienced them being taken away at nearly the same time that our daughter was given to us.”
Now Justin and Jill find themselves called to apply their ministry experiences and personal life lessons to help advance the Kingdom in Brazil. They believe God has prepared them well for the journey, and they are ready to go… along with their two biological children and their now adopted daughter … to share the love of Christ using the unique gifts God has crafted in them for His purpose.
Camp of the Hills – volunteer and counselor
Medical mission trips to San Pedro Sula, Honduras and to Ghana, Africa; two other mission trips to Fortaleza, Brazil
ACU Spring Break Campaigns – Bozeman, Montana and Chicago, Illinois
Middle school small group mentor for 4 years at ACU
New Life Church – Bible class teacher/helper for 3 years
Northside Church of Christ – High school small group mentor(NEON) for 4 years, Bible class leader and helper, Bible Hour supervisor & helper, middle school retreat leader, men’s ministry retreat leader/organizer for several years, started annual father/son campout
SERVEiVOR for 10 years
Lifegroup co-leader for several years
Urban Connection- San Antonio: worked as Education Coordinator for after-school program, local women’s outreach, food/clothing program
Urban Connection Outdoor Adventures – Co-led then led for several years (hunting/fishing/camping trips for at-risk kids as part of after-school program)
Assisted living centers devotionals for several years
Co-started/leads Northside’s S.A.F.E. (Supporting Foster and Adoption Efforts) ministry
Justin and Jill have been married for 15 years and enjoy a busy home life around three children: Caden, a 7-year-old boy; Rylee, a 4-year-old girl; and Addison, their little girl who is three. Their active family is just one testament to their faith after infertility initially stalled Justin and Jill’s dream of building a family. Their reliance on God’s perfect timing, their home church of Northside Church of Christ, their willingness to bring foster kids into their home, and their perseverance through trials along the way, have prepared them for the mission in which God has called them.