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Philip Hoffman

Building in Burundi
"A Kind Heart, Able Hands, and a Christlike Spirit"
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2014

Born in Peoria, Illinois, Phil grew up in a Christian home where regular church attendance was the norm. His mother led him to the Lord when he was 12 years old. After graduating from high school, Phil was uncertain about his future steps and began working in a factory. When a gospel team from Vennard College visited his church, he felt God leading him to pursue ministry. While at Vennard, he accepted God’s challenge to offer himself up for missionary service. After pastoring churches for 12 years, he acted on this challenge by meeting World Gospel Mission’s need for a builder to serve in Burundi, Africa. In 1966, he arrived in Burundi.

While in Burundi, Phil’s work included construction on church buildings, missionary homes, and medical facilities. Phil also received frequent requests to repair generators, water plants, and other equipment. Apart from his work in construction and repairs, he also directed Vacation Bible School programs, taught Sunday School, preached in churches, and served as a counselor.

While serving as a jack-of-all-trades missionary, Phil heard that Esther Luttrull, the missionary nurse, needed someone to accompany her to take patients to a government hospital. Phil began going with Esther on these trips and helped by holding a flashlight while she treated patients.

Although not the most romantic of settings, that’s how they fell in love! Phil and Esther were married in 1976 and continued to serve as missionaries together in Burundi.

Toward the end of his ministry, Phil served as the field director during a difficult period of time in Burundi’s history, through political upheaval and tribal conflicts that made ministry extremely challenging. Still, he always displayed a strength that testified to his faith and trust in the Lord.

After 35 years of combined service in Burundi, Phil and Esther retired in 1987 and moved to Marion, Indiana. But they didn’t stop being missionaries. For 20 years, the Hoffmans hosted a Child Evangelism Fellowship Good News Club in their home and on their lawn during the school year and summer. He also served as pastor of Back Creek Friends Church in Fairmount, Indiana.

With a kind heart, able hands, and a Christlike spirit, Phil Hoffman was a faithful servant of the Lord.

World Gospel Mission joins with Phil’s friends and family in celebrating his life and service to the Lord.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV). Phil truly fixed his eyes on the eternal as he served to literally build up the church in the United States and Burundi.

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