This Thursday was a special day, as we had both Nelson and Marshall Neal on campus in honor of their father, Dr. Marshall Neal Jr.
Dr. Neal taught at BJU for 50 years and served as Dean of the School of Religion from 1964-1978. During his long ministry at the University, Dr. Neal was known for his wit, his love of tennis, and his gracious Christian spirit toward those who served with him. Mark Minnick, a faculty member, mentioned that Dr. Neal “was one of the most approachable superiors that I have ever worked under.”
Steve Hankins, a foreign missionary traveler with Dr. Neal, said, “His consistent, humble testimony of service was encouraging, especially when you understood his personal brilliance and remarkable daily faithfulness to Christ.”
Dr. Neal truly was a man committed to high-level scholarship; his kind spirit, intelligent mind, and hard work ethic were qualities that pointed glory to Christ.
God influenced many through his life, and his life continues to be a testament to how God can greatly use those who apply themselves vigorously both to learn and share what God has taught them.
Dr. Neal led numerous study tours of Paul’s missionary journeys, visiting sites in modern day Turkey where Paul ministered in the first century. Dr. Neal also made many on-site visits to the seven churches of Asia Minor and immersed himself in the grammatical and historical interpretation of Revelation 2-3, the result of which was a book published by BJU Press entitled Seven Churches: God’s Revelation to the Churches Today.
Randy Leedy, a former Greek student of Dr. Neal’s and later Seminary Greek Professor who experienced Dr. Neal’s mentoring influence, commented, “What more could a young man aspiring for ministry at BJU ask for than a teacher, a mentor, a friend, an example like this?”
It’s because of Dr. Neal’s remarkable example and impact that his sons established the Marshall P. Neal Scholarship after he went to be with the Lord on December 16, 2008.
Through this fund, scholarships are given to ministerial students, encouraging them to continue working hard in their pursuit of academic excellence. Nelson and Marshall III presented the award to eight men on Thursday during Ministry Chapel, five of which are currently enrolled in BJU Seminary (Trevin Ascher, Tim Betancourt, Andrew Kester, Garrett Martin, and Josh Ortiz) and three plan to attend this next year (Tim Dahlhausen, Garrett Coker, and Joel Bauman). It was both an honor to Dr. Neal and an opportunity to inspire all who were present to commit themselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, just as Dr. Marshall Neal Jr. exemplified with his life and ministry at BJU.