Editor’s Note: What difference does Summit make? Why should you send a student? This week I’ve been posting alumni stories, originally printed in our monthly newsletter The Journal. These stories illustrate the difference Summit is making in the lives of it students, and the difference they’re making in their communities. For more information about our summer Student Conferences, click here.
David Noebel founded Summit with one goal in mind: to equip Christian students to counteract the false ideas taking so many minds captive in the university setting.
Nick Hall was one of those students Doc had in mind. In 2001 he came through Summit because a kidney operation had sidelined him from a mission trip to Africa. That visit to Summit changed his life forever. “It was one of the first times we had really seen the combination of our minds and our faith,” he recalled recently. “We’d been challenged in church and in school, but it was the first time we had been exposed to people — one after another — who had been called to certain fields of influence.”
After his summer at Summit, Nick went on to college filled with a passion to reach out to his classmates. Today, Nick leads one of the largest evangelistic outreaches in the U.S.
In college at North Dakota State University in Fargo, Hall’s heart broke as he saw his fellow students fall into the grip of false ideas. Alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression had become a plague. Seeking to live a life of Gospel-centered purpose that he saw modeled at Summit, he began a movement called PULSE to speak biblical truth and freedom to large numbers of his fellow college students. Through prayer, ecumenical unity, campus-wide events, student mobilization, and evangelism, Hall sought to draw college students and pose the big questions to them in unintimidating environments. Hall’s friends and classmates easily caught the vision. PULSE now reaches 500,000 college students per year through its various events: concerts, prayer gatherings, support groups, and discipleship training.
Hall said he sees PULSE as a modern-day movement with its DNA rooted in people like Billy Graham and Josh McDowell. “We see ourselves as a young expression of those kinds of movements,” he said. While PULSE reaches students with the Gospel through small group events and printed resources on campuses, the large events have a distinct evangelistic flavor. “I’m an evangelist,” Hall said. “That’s my calling to the church.”
PULSE groups around the country are finding ways to work across denominational lines to “major on the majors,” as Hall put it, and are drawing attention for it. On a Wisconsin campus last year, the university’s LGBT groups noticed that the Christian students were working together to promote an upcoming PULSE event. The LGBT groups called the Christians into a meeting. “They thought they were ‘gay hating,’” Hall explained. The PULSE students explained what they were doing and the ideas behind PULSE and now have a witness to the LGBT groups on campus. “We can reframe the discussion rather than let it be all about the headlines,” Hall said. “This is how we build relationships.”
Today PULSE is active on over thirty college campuses, and Hall has led tours to about fifty cities each year. This fall he’ll embark on a tour of thirty cities from New York to Los Angeles. His next goal is a nationwide evangelistic gathering in 2015.
In thinking about the road that brought Hall to where he is now, he credited Summit and specifically Brent Noebel, who also battled kidney problems. “Brent had a profound impact on all of us — his life, his testimony, the brevity of life, and wanting to make his life count.”