Paradise Mountain Ministries was born out of the home of its founder, Carolyn Eckman and her children. Her home was full of missionary kids (MKs – now referred to as Third Culture Kids TCKs) who needed a place to stay for Christmas, the summer months, or until they collected enough money for college. For a time, there were 15 people at the dining room table regularly. Through these experiences, God gave a vision of a home specifically to care for college age TCKs who had nowhere to call home in the United States and whose parents were serving in overseas ministry.
David and Carolyn Eckman had been missionaries in Irian Jaya, Indonesia (now called Papua) for 18 years. While on home assignment, David was diagnosed with cancer, and passed away in December 1980. In 1982, Carolyn and her four children returned to Papua to say their proper “good-byes” to the nationals and the missionary family with whom they had worked. Six weeks later upon completion of closure in Indonesia, they returned to their home in Toccoa, Georgia. They quickly realized that the two college age TCKs who had been left to take care of their house while they were in Indonesia, had invited 8 more TCKs who had no place to spend the summer to come live in the Eckmans’ home. With the Eckmans moving back, the total residing in the house for the summer was 15 people (14 young adults and Carolyn). Again the need for a place to become home away from home for college age TCKs was forcefully evident. It was during that summer (1982) that God pulled Carolyn’s attention to a large farmhouse in Toccoa. For the next eight years when passing by the house her prayer was, “God, could this possibly be the place for your special ones, the TCKs?” The words would be uttered and then the thought shaken off as there was no possibility for this dream to become a reality. Carolyn was a single mom, striving to help her own four children with education as well as opening her home for others who needed help. There was no money to think of the purchase of a larger home. But the prayer continued to be lifted to God and the need expressed to Him often.
One day Carolyn and an MK were walking on the porch of the run down farmhouse that had been left empty for several years. Carolyn asked the TCK, “What are you thinking?” He responded, “This would be an MK paradise!” Immediately Carolyn knew what she would call the home – Paradise Mountain Ministries.
In 1990, God opened a way for Carolyn to have first choice on the old farmhouse and 25 acres of prime property appraised at $170,000. She was given 6 days to come up with 20% and the owner would hold the mortgage for 10 years to be paid in full. Those days were filled with phone calls asking for help, deep groans in prayer and lots of tears. On the morning of the final day, an offer was given for a loan of $35,000 (the needed 20%) interest free for 90 days. The offer was taken and the loan was paid in full within 90 days. Enough people were excited about this vision to care for MKs that all the other property payments were met and the debt paid in full in four years. The old farmhouse was completely renovated. Although it was set up to house 16 TCKs at a time, there were occasions when as many as 19 lived in the home. It was soon realized that the need was greater than the space available to meet the needs of TCKs. In 1997 a second house was constructed which accommodates 16 young people and a resident manager family. This too is debt free.
Since the time of inception of Paradise Mountain Ministries young people have continued to make this their home away from home. In the span of 25 years more than 300 young adult children of missionaries have called Paradise Mountain Ministries their home. The ministry is funded through tax-exempt donations for which receipts are issued. There is no charge to those living in the homes. God continues to provide all that is needed for the daily operations.
Paradise Mountain Ministries is a indeed a GOD THING!