“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca (bitterness) they make it a place of springs…”(Psalm 84:5-6). That’s the verse Dan cites when he tells about his journey of late.
At about 2 a.m. on August 16, 2015, Dan's life took a new turn in the road.
Dan Hall, husband, father, pastor, executive coach, and leadership guru is a “turnaround guy.” He is the wizard with a gift and a passion for straightening messes in businesses, churches, and other organizations—the bigger, the better.
Author John Eldredge, in his book Wild at Heart, must have had Dan in mind when he wrote, “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.” Dan has always been that warrior who runs bravely into the thick of the battle confident in his expertise at slaying dragons and saving the day.
Dan and Hazel Hall share one big legacy. They are Baptist preachers’ kids. They grew up in the same neighborhood near Fort Worth, Texas. When Dan’s dad took a job with James Robison Ministries, his family moved away, but the Halls and the Andersons remained good friends. It was not until the two were college students at Baylor that they met again.
Dan and Hazel were married August 14, 1987.
It would seem that image is etched in Dan’s memory forever. He was leaving a Denny’s restaurant as Hazel was coming in. She recognized him and introduced herself. Dan had already noticed the pretty girl in the 501 jeans and the red high-top tennis shoes. He could not believe his good fortune! As he says, “I took one look and I was done!”
They married less than two years later and set up housekeeping in Clinton, Mississippi, where Dan had already begun pastoring at a new church, Cornerstone. The year was 1987. The Civil Rights Movement, per se, had ended, but there was still more room for improvement in race relations. There was little evidence of racial reconciliation between Whites and Blacks in the Deep South.
The leadership at Cornerstone wanted to be intentional about bringing the races together, and Dan believed to his very core that the message of the gospel of Jesus is one of love and unity. There was no place for a racial divide between brothers in Christ.
Establishing a racially integrated church was a radical endeavor, but evidently, there were others who were likeminded. The church that began in the Jaycee Meeting Hut in Clinton continually had to find larger and larger quarters, and from the start it was impossible to label it a “Black” church or a “White” church because there seemed to be an equal mix of both black and white faces in the pews week after week.
The members worked side by side feeding the poor, befriending the homeless, teaching the Word, and growing Believers in their community.
If Dan is passionate about racial reconciliation, he is just as passionate about pro-life issues. By 1987, there were several busy abortion clinics in the Jackson area. Dan spearheaded a coalition of both Black and White pastors called Pastors for Life who held sidewalk vigils across the street from the abortion clinic worshiping, praying, and sometimes having the opportunity to persuade women headed inside to make a different choice. He was an outspoken advocate and board member at Pro-Life Mississippi.
Marilyn Tinnin is a regular contributor to Mississippi Matters.To read the rest of this story in Mississippi Christian Living's new Nov. 2017 issue, visit https://mschristianliving.com/2017/columns/dan-hazel-hall-hearts-set-journey/
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