In the Beginning: Meet Ben and Daniel Hale

May 14, 2010 | Harvesters
By Jesse Newman

In the Beginning: Meet Ben and Daniel Hale

Top left: Ben with his wife, Jessica, and their children, Gabriel and Kellyn. Bottom left: Ben and Daniel congratulate Grace

If you listen carefully to Joe Hale tell the “NICS Story” either live at Pre-Field Orientation (PFO) or on DVD, you will understand that the ministry of NICS/Oasis we all know today grew out of an initial desire to educate his own children and the children of other missionaries on the field. At that time, most educational opportunities were either too expensive for most families, required separation of the children from parents via a boarding school, or were not easily accessible and workable for other families. Joe provided an option for missionary children, and the initial school in Uijongbu, South Korea, grew from a small handful of students the first year to a few hundred all in the course of three to four years.

Ben and Daniel Hale (Joe and Ann Hale’s number one and number two sons) are currently serving the Lord at Yongsan International School of Seoul (YISS), a NICS member school. They were present at the very beginning, were students at the first school, and are as committed to the mission today as their parents were in the beginning. 

Ben was born in Seoul, South Korea, and is the only one of the Hale boys to graduate from a NICS school.  After he graduated, Joe and family returned to the USA to establish the Home Office, and the other three sons finished their schooling at Southern Baptist Educational Center in Southaven, Mississippi. After Ben finished at International Christian School in Singapore, he went on to attend Liberty University where he received a B.S. in Business Management (2001). He will also receive a M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision in May 2010. He met his wife, Jessica, at Lassen Pines Christian Camp where he served as a counselor during the summertime as a young man. They have been married for eleven years, and have two children (Gabriel (5) and Kellyn (4)). Ben’s favorite activities are playing basketball, wrestling with the kids, going on trips, and singing. His hobbies include rugby, guitar, reading, and golf.

Daniel was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1980. After high school, he attended Liberty University from 1998 to 2002 and received his bachelor’s degree. He met his wife, Brooke, while they were at PFO before going to Korea as missionaries. They were married a few years later at their church in Seoul and have been married for three years. Daniel enjoys reading, any type of sport (other than golf!), traveling, playing the guitar, and catching an episode of “LOST” or “24” with Brooke.

CORE:  Since you were there “in the beginning” as a student, describe what it was like in the “early days” of NICS? 

Ben:  For me, the early days bring back great memories.  I remember always having people at our house.  Whether it be teachers, friends, people from church, or special guests we always had people in our home.  My relationships with my teachers were special and unique in that we were a part of a true community of believers.  I am still close with many of my teachers.  Most of them are still missionaries.  Laura Hill and John Havill come to mind as teachers that made a major impact on my life, and they are still serving God in international Christian schools.

I also remember our trips to Taechon Beach, thanksgiving dinners for servicemen, having school in 3 buildings in Uijongbu, painting the walls to the school in Bangkok, having school in a huge house in Jakarta, and teaching K5 PE my senior year at ICS Singapore.  The beginning was pretty exciting, and I was glad that I was a part of it.

Daniel:  That’s a loaded question!  The thing I remember the most was having friends from all over.  There was Erick from Norway, Pankaj from India, and Chachavit from Thailand.  These are guys that I still keep in touch with because I think we went through such a unique experience together.  We were a small school, but there were so many different cultures represented.  One example I can think of is when Pankaj brought his lunch to school.  It was always Indian food, which included Nan bread.  None of us knew what it was, but we would always try to sit by Pankaj so we could get some of the bread.  We didn’t think of it as “Indian” food.  We didn’t really think about how different we were.  We were just friends.

CORE:  What “hats” have you worn over the years at NICS as a staff person?

Ben:  When I was hired at ICS Seoul in 2002 by Dr. Halliburton, the school was growing at an incredible pace.  I was hired to create the Admissions Department.  The creation of this department was a huge relief to the administrative team because they had been conducting interviews and testing students.  This took up a huge portion of their time.  I served in this capacity until 2008.  During that time I served as Athletic Director for 2 years and taught a Bible class for 1 year.

Daniel:  I was the PFO coordinator for 2 years.  For that job, I was responsible for the logistical support: home-stays, vehicles, beds, hotels for speakers, etc.  I then taught Literature for 4 years at YISS in Seoul.  Currently, I am the athletic director at YISS, along with teaching some PE classes.

CORE:  List the locations where your family lived/served and how long you have been/were there. Is there one location that stands out in your mind as your favorite? If so, why?

Ben:  We were in Korea from 1977 to 1993.  We moved to Thailand for three months during my 8th grade year.  The next summer we moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, and we lived there from 1993-1995, which were my freshman and sophomore years.  We moved to Singapore in 1995 and stayed there until 1997.  I graduated early from high school in December of 1996 and went off to college while my parents were still in Singapore.  Each location has a special place and importance in my life.  Culturally, I feel most connected with Korea.  Spiritually, Indonesia was a place where I grew strong in my faith with the help of strong Christian friends and mentors.  Singapore was where I graduated from high school and had some of the best experiences of my high school years.

Jessica and I lived in Lynchburg for 3 years after we got married.  We moved to Seoul in 2002 and have been here ever since.  We did live in Lynchburg again during the 2008-2009 school year while Jessica and I worked on graduate school.

Daniel:  A majority of the first 12 years of my life we lived in Korea.  Then, we moved to Bangkok, Thailand, to start the first NICS school outside of Korea.  We lived there for 3 months during my 7th grade year.  We moved back to Korea for the rest of that year.  We then moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, for two years (8th & 9th grade), and from there to Singapore for two years (10th & 11th grade).  My senior year we moved back to Southaven, where the Home Office is currently located.  Every place we lived has stayed with me for slightly different reasons.  Korea was my home.  I left the friends that I had grown up with.  That’s always hard.  I remember Indonesia especially because of the friends that I made there.  We were a part of a great youth group that met every week, and for me that made all the difference.  I would say that was my favorite place, not because of its location, but because of the people that were in my life while there.

CORE:  What would you say is the greatest blessing you received because you lived overseas as a child? …because you served overseas as an adult?

Ben:  For me, the best experience about living overseas is not the countries that I lived in, but the people that I met.  These people are still very important in my life.  They are all over the world, and almost any country I want to visit I can meet up with them and talk about the “old days”.  It is so encouraging to see many of my close friends serving God in so many ways and in so many places.  As an adult and a parent, I want my children to be able grow up in an environment where they do not see color, language, background, or social status as a hindrance to relationships.  I want my kids to see people that need Christ.  I use my parents as an important example for raising my own children.  I want to carry on the legacy of service my parents focused on while raising us.

Daniel:  As a child you don’t really analyze what you are going through.  It is just happening, and you don’t know enough to think about what it means.  Looking back at the things I was able to experience and see growing up, I wouldn’t change my childhood for the world.  We got to do so many things that people don’t usually get to do.  We rode elephants, walked on one of the largest volcanoes in recorded history, snorkeled, hiked through the jungle, and even went swimming on Christmas day!  Most of all, I got to see how God was at work all around the world.  As diverse as the places were that we went, there was always a remnant of His people there worshiping him.  It was amazing to be a part of that group.  I still feel like I’m a small part of that work now.  The greatest blessing to me now is knowing that God has chosen to use me, unworthy as I am, to influence the lives of kids that are similar to me.  He is great!

CORE:  What has been the most challenging thing you faced as you lived/served overseas?

Ben:  Frankly, living overseas is not that challenging for me.  Living in the US tends to be a bit more challenging.  I feel very comfortable living overseas.  My parents joke with me about the time we were moving to Thailand because I said, “I’ve always wanted to move to a foreign country.” I guess that explains it.

Daniel:  Making friends.  My brothers seemed to have an easier time of it.  I was, and am, an introvert, and making friends was difficult, especially knowing that you may just move again.

CORE:  Share a couple of your fondest memories with NICS.

Ben:  Some of my best memories serving with NICS are painting the walls on the new ICS Bangkok school, homeschooling with (teacher) John Havill in Jakarta, coaching basketball in Seoul, mentoring high school students, seeing several of my players commit to going into the ministry themselves, seeing God do miracles at the Seoul school and other schools, substitute teaching at ICS Pyongtaek, and many, many more.

Daniel:  Since we were always present at the beginning of projects, it was always small.  I loved being a part of those small communities of people who were all excited about the same thing.  Now, seeing those small projects grow into great programs is exciting.  Seoul and YISS is a perfect example.  Both Ben and I were here during the process of getting the current Seoul campus, and it was just amazing to watch God provide where we had so little to offer.  He has done it over and over again, and I expect he will continue.

CORE:  Any interesting story/event that you would like to share with the readers?

Ben:  I want to share a note that I recently received from one of my former players:

It’s so good to hear from you. I really miss sitting in your office every 7th period.  I learned so much from you… Plus, I really don’t understand how you can work, go to school, coach, be a husband, and a dad all at the same time! That’s just crazy! But I’m glad you’re almost done (with school)! Woot!

(Going to) China for missions? Man, it’s amazing to see the fruit and the work that is coming out of YISS and all the ICSs around the world. Are you going to be teaching too?

Mr. Hale! I’m going to major in Christian Ministries. I’m really excited. God confirmed it then I changed my major because I got scared, but He confirmed it again. I think He really wants me to get out of my comfort zone and live life to the fullest to share the gospel…maybe through sports ministry, or mission work. But I want to produce and direct concerts, conferences, and revivals one day also. I want to see lives change for Christ.

Life seems WAY too short.

That’s what it’s all about!

Daniel:  When I was in 9th grade, the four brothers and John and Rebecca Havill took a trip to Sumatra.  It was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life; not thrilling because of anything that we planned, though.  We thought it would be a good idea to take a boat out to Krakatoa, an island volcano just off the southern tip of Sumatra.  A storm came up during our “short” boat ride and we ended up caught out at sea in the middle of it.  It was not a large boat, so in no way were we carving through the waves.  The waves were in control.  I think it was the first time in my life I was truly afraid that I was not going to make it.  The irony of the whole thing was that our destination was a live volcano-Anak Krakatau, or “son of Krakatau.” The “father” is no longer active, but the son is very much so.  When we got there we had to jump off the boat into the water because it was still storming, and all I remember was that the ground was hot.  That’s when my life flashed before my eyes.  What an adventure that was…and I’m still alive!

CORE:  What advice would you give to teachers just preparing to go overseas?

Ben:  Don’t lose the focus of your calling to minister through education.  When you lose that focus it may be time to return home.  Don’t let people discourage you in ministry.  Find people that encourage you and will work hard in ministry together.  Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Daniel:  A friend of mine used to say “Keep the main thing the main thing.” When you move overseas it’s so easy to make it all about yourself: my living situation, my small apartment, my culture shock, my lesson plans.  All of these are legitimate issues, but they aren’t the main thing.  It’s about sharing Christ and investing His truth into the lives of the kids.  All those other things “will be added unto us.”

CORE:  Where do you see yourself in the future? What are your professional goals, etc.

Ben:  I don’t like to say where I will be in the future.  I just want to be open and prepared for what God calls me to do (Jeremiah 29:11).

Daniel:  I think we’ll be overseas serving somewhere.  I’m not sure it will be in Korea, but for the time being He has placed us here.  I love teaching and being around the kids, but I have thought a lot about administration as well.  I just want to do what God wants me to do.  At some point I would like to pursue my master’s degree as well, but that depends on where God leads as well.

That’s a brief look into the lives of two early NICS students who have chosen to follow the Lord in overseas service.  It is great to see that these two men share their earthly father’s and their Heavenly Father’s passion for people and the Great Commission. Our thanks to them both for allowing us to take a peek into their lives and into the “early years” of NICS.

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