At just nine years old, Rebekah Wilder felt called to help orphans in China…
At just nine years old, Minnesotan Rebekah Wilder felt called to help orphans in China after her family heard a presentation from a missionary couple in Ecuador. That night, she decided to be a missionary herself. In the months to come, she started hearing a lot about China, and specifically asked her mom: “How do you know if God is telling you to do something?” Her mom said that sometimes you just notice it coming up a lot in books, or conversations, and that convinced Rebekah that God was calling her to work in China someday. She learned about the one-child policy soon after and could not imagine not having a family. Her first mission trip to China at age fourteen only motivated her to make those dreams a reality. Rebekah went on to get her bachelors degree in Intercultural Studies and a minor in Chinese and in Children and Family Ministry from the University of Northwestern, in St. Paul, MN. In 2010, Rebekah spent three months in China for her internship, working at a large children’s home in Beijing. She is a trained Behavioral Therapist in ABA therapy and has over six years experience working with children with special needs.
In 2010, during her internship, Rebekah met Sara Zhou, a local Chinese believer with a heart for orphan care and a city called Chengdu. It was clear from the moment they met that God had connected them for a very specific purpose. Sara had a wealth of expertise in orphan care, adoption advocacy, and working with Chinese government orphanages. With a mutual longstanding desire to serve orphans with special needs, Rebekah and Sara worked together for four years and developed the very first vision for Hope Station. Together they spent months traveling around to different foster homes in China to gather information and research different models for foster care, and Rebekah gleaned from Sara’s expertise in the field every day.
Upon returning to the U.S., Rebekah continued to move towards realizing the vision for Hope Station on her own, and promptly began fundraising. After graduating in 2011, she put together a team of experts in nonprofit development, fundraising, and intercultural business to dialogue about the needs of Hope Station, and how to set the organization up to make the biggest impact and stay successful in the mission long term. This team was influential in finding and approving partnership with Hope Station’s Chinese nonprofit counterpart: The Chinese Relief and Development Foundation. After this team’s season concluded, Rebekah assembled an official Board of Directors, whose first meeting convened in January of 2013. In July of 2013 Hope Station was approved by the IRS as a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Rebekah finally moved to China at the start of 2015 and now works directly with the children and staff at the orphanage regularly. Hope Station piloted an on-site therapy program in 2016, providing child development therapy for select children in the orphanage. This therapy program continues to benefit the children and staff in the Deyang orphanage today.