Rick Vilander, elder of Flint Hills Christian Church in Emporia, Kansas (KS).
The roots of my life experience are near a small community called Zeandale, which is 7 miles east of Manhattan Kansas. Within five miles of farm country lived my parents and each of their parents. Never having siblings, I learned to be on my own, as well as being close to the adults and select peers in my life.
I was greatly influenced by my grandparents as well as my own parents. This was a great blessing. We always attended a Bible believing church. I also witnessed most of these rural church members living the Word as much as talking about it. Of particular note was the testimony of my mother’s parents experiencing the loss of their only son at the age of 19 after battling cancer for 2 years. He was a bright light in the family being the younger son with three older daughters. I saw how their faith carried them through the pain and heartache with a still visible joy in their Lord and Savior. The clear proclamation of their trust in their Lord through this heartache firmly cemented the certainty of God’s reality and provision for his own into my 9 year young life.
I don’t remember a time that I did not know about, and believe in, the reality of Jesus as God’s Son or His sacrificial death on the cross from my sins. As the years would progress, my intensity in pursuit of Jesus as Lord and my understanding of the scripture would grow. While a “good kid,” I would come to know that I had nothing to offer God to make peace for my sins, but was completely dependent upon Jesus’ sacrifice completely paying my debt of sin and making peace with God for me. My growing focus on following Jesus as Lord, led me to attend and graduate from Manhattan Christian College (MCC). This also included church staff roles during and immediately after college. During the college years, I met and married a beautiful young woman named Ruth. She was also attending MCC. A continued interest in aviation led us to Emporia Kansas in 1983 where we discovered and joined Flint Hills Christian Church. We are parents of two grown children, a son Harold and a daughter Jennifer. Employment has led me to technical pursuits, first in aviation, followed by over 25 years in the nuclear field. My true passion remains in serving the Lord, and specifically in pursuit of living out the Scriptures personally, in fellowship with other believers, and within the church as a whole. During the years in Emporia the Lord has been kind enough to let me serve in various leadership and teaching roles within FHCC in pursuit of this passion.