Liberty University alumnus Joe Hale (’77) visited Korea for the first time during an outreach trip his senior year. The youth ministry major instantly fell in love with the country and its culture. In May of 1978, he and his wife, Annalee, a 1977 graduate of the Liberty Bible Institute, returned to work with Korean youth, learning their language and customs. Five years later, Hale founded a school for missionary kids that would become the prototype in the development of the Network of International Christian Schools (NICS).
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By 1991, NICS had become an established educational nonprofit agency with 19 schools teaching a full curriculum of classes to international students in Asia, South America, Africa, and the Middle East. Its headquarters is located in Southaven, Miss., site of NorthStar Academy, an accredited online NICS affiliate.
As a way to reach students in countries where freedom to speak and teach about Jesus Christ is limited, Oasis International Schools was formed, emphasizing character development and a values-based worldview to students in religiously sensitive countries.
NICS and Oasis are now operating in 16 countries and have reached a record enrollment of 4,778 students from 104 countries.
Hale credits both Liberty and the Lord for giving him the vision, education, and inspiration to start an international school system that continues to grow and sustain itself.
“My four years at Liberty University were some of the greatest years of my life,” Hale said.
Traveling with the Liberty Chorale and singing at Jerry Falwell, Sr.’s “I Love America” rallies are some of his fondest memories of his college experience.
“I especially remember the chapel services where God’s Spirit filled the place,” Hale said.
All four of the Hales’ sons — and their wives — graduated from Liberty. Two of the couples (Benjamin and his wife, Jessica, and Daniel and his wife, Brooke) currently work at the Yongsan International School of Seoul, Korea. The Hales have given back to their alma mater by placing dozens of Liberty alumni in teaching and administrative positions around the world.
On Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, Hale visited his alma mater and addressed the student body during Convocation. He described the impact that his schools are having on students’ lives all over the world and encouraged the students to utilize their education to spread the Gospel.
Even in closed countries where the Gospel cannot be preached, said Hale, they can make a difference.
“What we can do is find teachers that are committed Christians like you and send them to a place to be salt and light and to care and love on people,” Hale said. “We are teaching children how to think, not necessarily what to think. … We are a missions agency. We are an education agency. We are placing about 200 new people on the field every year in the 16 countries we are in. God is opening up doors for us all around the world.”