Goplen Lived Service at Hillcrest

Dust whipped against the worn wood siding of Ida Goplen’s home in Binford, North Dakota. The young Goplen lay silent in a soft blanket under hushed voices overhead. Born two months premature, Goplen wasn’t expected to live more than a few hours from her birth date July, 17 1904. In facing nearly certain demise, the Lord tarried Ida’s breath past her short seven month prenatal development to a lasting legacy at Hillcrest and more than 36,000 visitations during World War II.

“The child will live,” Goplen’s mother sternly broke, piercing the silent whispers from the doctor who held Ida’s two and one-half pound frame in his arms. Ida was the first child born to Daffin and Marie Goplen, 22 days after their first anniversary of marriage. “If only we could build and incubator, she might have a chance,” the doctor responded.

Ida’s father and uncle built a make-shift incubator that stayed the premature baby and allowed her to develop. She outgrew the incubator and started to form her faith in the shadow of her strong parents. Both were consistent presentations of God’s grace for her. She built a strong faith that was resilient in the home. The Bible was constantly open next to the bread dough her mother kneaded. Ida’s mother traveled daily to the mission fields of Africa and China in prayer. Her knees were worn, something that Ida emulated later in life.

Ida made her faith her own at Hillcrest. The 85 miles kept a good distance between the rock of faith Ida stood on through her adolescents. As she matured to a young woman she developed a hunger and love for the Lord. Ida developed a robust personal relationship with Jesus during Hillcrest, something that would steady her as she embarked on a lifestyle of service.

Ida found herself pursuing teaching after Hillcrest. She traveled to Alaska and a country school in North Dakota before finding herself back at Hillcrest in 1928, a six year break from her time at Hillcrest as a student. Many say that her greatest contributions at Hillcrest came not in her dynamic classroom instruction, but in her care as a loving mother in the dormitories. She held the position of head dean for over a decade. Many say she was very firm, with one look from her piercing eyes able to wither any recalcitrant fellow or self-willed girl. But the students knew that in her heart she also held an intense, God-given love for the students, and they knew it. One student who attended Hillcrest during that time said, “She gave of herself unstintingly in long and exhausting hours of counseling students, expending herself as few ever have done, and left a lasting imprint on us as only one with a mother love could.” Goplen was forced to resign her post at Hillcrest in exhaustion by doctor’s orders. After a time at home recuperating she went on to engage in visitation ministry, where she held over 36,000 visitation sessions during the Second World War.