Our guest for this episode is Ned Hale, National Archivist at InterVarsity in Madison, WI. Ned is a friend and former student missions worker on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison.
Ned is the former director of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship’s International Student Ministries. This conversation with Ned Hale was primarily to discuss the importance of friendship with the foreign student for the cause of Christ. However, our discussion honored many others who he had the privilege of knowing over five decades of university missions.
Ned, Vern Visick, and I co-led a few prophetic conferences at the University of Wisconsin, including one exploring an ethical and biblical response to HIV/AIDS. Both Ned and I remembered our friend and co-laborer, Dr. Vern Visick, who passed went home to be with the Lord in 2017. Vern was a campus minister, educator, scholar, ethicist, environmentalist, and visionary activist for peace, social justice, and earth care.
Another conference we co-led was a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Haystack Prayer Meeting, a prayer meeting in Western Massachusetts in 2006. In the shelter of a haystack five college students prayed for student involvement in missions before there were any missions agencies in North America. They committed to become the answer to their own prayers and that prayer meeting is credited for launching the North American Missionary enterprise.
Two keynote speakers at the Haystack conference in 2006 were Andrew Walls and Lamin Sanneh. The importance of what we learned together from both Walls and Sanneh cannot be underestimated.
Dr. Lamin Sanneh unexpectedly died in January of 2019. He was the D. Willis James professor of missions and world Christianity at Yale Divinity School and a professor of history at Yale. Dr. Sanneh was born a Muslim but converted to Christianity as a teenager and became a practicing Roman Catholic, giving him experience in both Islam and Christianity and an unusual perspective for a scholar of religion.
One special event during the Haystack conference was a faculty luncheon at which Sanneh spoke of his research that led him to faith in Christ. Challenged by his professor to research how Christianity was destroying African cultures, Sanneh found the opposite to be true. And more than one professor at that luncheon asked why this was the first time they had heard this amazing truth that Christianity redeems and saves cultures.
Andrew Walls is a British historian of missions, best known for his pioneering studies of the history of the African church and a pioneer in the academic field of World Christianity. Walls and Sanneh both described the amazing growth of the church worldwide, and how the study of the church in Africa and China is the best way for us to study and experience what church was like during the first century.
As the national archivist for IVCF, Ned reflects on his relationships over many years with some of the most influential university student ministry leaders, including Paul Little of IVCF and Dawson Trotman of the Navigators.
Paul Little, the author of several books, including Know Why You Believe and Know What You Believe, encouraged Ned to join IVCF and work with international students.
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