Most of the Lipscomb community knows Dr. Gary Hall as a math professor; however, the passionate teacher finds fulfillment in a place far from his lectures on calculus. After spending time in Newport, Wales, in the summers of 1985 and 1986, Hall discovered a hunger for ministry opportunities in the region, saying, “I fell in love with the people of Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”
How Hall decided to take that initial trip is quite unconventional, as he explains that the decision came from a desire in his youth. “When I was young I loved watching the Christmas special, A Christmas in Wales,” he shares, “and so I decided that is where I wanted to go to help.” For years after those early trips, Hall continued to return to the UK and serve with a congregation for shorter periods of time. It was during this period, he explains, that Hall came into contact with some familiar people. “I ran into some other people of the Lipscomb family who were also helping out some of the congregations there where they could,” he says, “In the summer of 1995 we decided not only to join up for the next year but also to expand to help out in more places.”
Like other Lipscomb mission trips, the teams that go to Great Britain serve in various ways throughout the community. “We help with Vacation Bible Schools and camps,” Hall says. In past years, the team has helped with painting, garden clearing, singing in a nursing care facility, and more. However, their main purpose has been to help facilitate and teach VBS for these smaller British churches. “In the VBSs, we sing songs, make crafts, teach skits along with acting out skits, and most importantly of all, teach Bible lessons,” Hall explains.
The incredible dedication and passion for service is evident in Hall’s nearly thirty-year run with the mission, and those who have experienced his leadership are quick to share their admiration for the math professor. Michelle Putnam went on the trip for the first time in the summer of 2005 and has continued to play a major role in the leadership since. “Gary loves working with each of the congregations which comprise this trip,” says Putnam who has assisted Hall with leadership for numerous trips, “He maintains strong ties with each one and communicates routinely with members who work with the group when it is on location. He wants to help the children who attend the VBS to gain knowledge of the Bible and particularly Jesus.”
Lipscomb Bible professor and Director of Missional Studies Earl Lavender cannot say enough about the incredible service that Hall has done over so many years. “Dr. Hall has been amazingly faithful in leading the Great Britain summer mission trip over the last couple of decades,” Lavender shares, “He personally participated many of those years, and even the years he was not able to go, he took direct responsibility to make sure all went according to plan.” Lavender also notes how Hall established the trip during a time when mission work was much less popular than it was today. Getting people involved and solidifying plans were even larger tasks years ago, yet Hall managed to execute successful trips time after time.
After so many years of returning to the same place, Hall is evidence of a servant leader desiring deep and meaningful connections with those to whom he ministers. Lavender sums up Hall’s contribution best when he says, “His dedication to the mission over the years is exemplary. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Gary for his years of past and continued service!”