Missionary's child becomes first full-time pastor for Paxton church

Missionary's child becomes first full-time pastor for Paxton church

PAXTON — The Rev. Dave Hohulin has been able to develop more of a world view than most people.

That's what happens when you grow up a missionary's kid, living in an exotic land. You come to realize that change and a challenge aren't bad.

Hohulin grew up in the Philippines, where his parents, working through Wycliffe Bible Translators, made Bible translations for two of the Ifugao dialects. (There are between 6,000 and 8,000 dialects in the world, and only 400 of them have complete Bible translations. The Hohulins have translated two of them.)

Hohulin wasn't afraid to make a move when he was approached about becoming the full-time pastor at Paxton's Upper Room Bible Church. He had served as youth pastor at Gibson City Bible Church for seven years.

It was a major move for the Paxton church. He became the first full-time pastor the church, started in the 1970s, has ever had.

Originally meeting on the second floor of a store in downtown Paxton, the church, started by the Rev. Dan and Lora Kupferschmid, later bought the Paxton Majestic Theatre and then the former West Lawn School building in 1980 — its current home.

When Dan Kupferschmid retired, the Rev. Kevin Heiser became pastor of the church — like his predecessor on a part-time basis. Heiser continued to work full-time at State Farm in Bloomington. In the meantime, the church grew to the point where "it was too much for a part-time person," Heiser said.

"I was at a place in my life when I couldn't give up my job, and I didn't want to wait the 41/2 years until retirement. I just thought the time was right to get a full-time person."

So Heiser announced he was stepping down as pastor. Heiser, a rural Fisher native, recommended as his replacement, Hohulin, his college roommate at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and the church agreed.

"He had such a tremendous ministry at Gibson City Bible Church with the youth and was so highly thought of," Heiser said. "He had the right idea of building relationships and discipling people and building a church the way it needs to be built."

Hohulin, who is 55, moved with his family to the Philippines in 1962.

He loved the life. Despite being 600 miles away from his parents for much of the year in a missionary boarding school in Mindanao while his parents worked in Luzon, it was all the adventure a young boy could want with swimming, fishing and climbing.

The family remained there for 11 years until his parents came back to the United States to obtain advanced college degrees — his mother in linguistics and his father in anthropology. They chose the University of Illinois and settled near Elliott, east of Gibson City.

It was Hohulin's senior year of high school.

"It was a culture shock, but not as bad as I thought it would be," he said.

After high school, he attended Parkland College and later Moody.

It was while leading a singles group at Gibson City Bible Church that he met his future wife, Renee.

"I told her I didn't want to live anywhere cold," Hohulin said with a laugh. "A week after we were married we were headed to Texas."

Hohulin had agreed to take a construction job with his uncle.

He tells the story that his wife, a Fisher native, cried all the way down to Texas because she didn't want to leave home and family. Twenty-two years later when they returned to central Illinois, she cried all the way back. She had become attached to Texas.

The construction job fell through, but Hohulin held a number of jobs in management in the Lone Star State — from selling spray-on insulation to work in the restaurant business to real estate. He also owned his own chemical supply company for 13 years.

They moved back to Illinois in 2002 to help Renee's mother care for Renee's father, who had health problems. (Mr. Fairfield was born in and died in the same room in his rural Fisher home, 83 years apart.)

Back in Illinois, Hohulin managed a rental service company in Champaign and spent a year as part-time youth pastor at Gibson City Bible Church. The church asked him to take the position on a full-time basis, and he accepted.

The Upper Room later came calling. Again it was time for change.

He hopes to see the Paxton church continue to grow.

The church will go to two services in October because of its current growth — a traditional service at 9 a.m. and a contemporary one at 10:30.

Upper Room is also rolling out a one-on-one discipleship program that will last for six months. A men's Bible studies program will also start.

The church already has an AWANA program for children and an active women's ministry board "that has a lot going on," Hohulin said.

"We have a good Sunday school program, a fellowship time and potluck the first Sunday of the month."

The Hohulins live in the same house where Renee was raised. They have three children — Josh, 25, Rachel, 23, and Gabrielle, 19.

The children are the fifth generation to live in the Fairfield home.

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