JACKSON, Tenn. – Dec. 10, 2011 – Lloyd Hansen has been locked into his hotel room in China and shot at in Lebanon.
Those are just a couple of his memorable experiences from a career spent in the energy field, a career that has taken him to dozens of countries and opened countless doors for him to share the gospel with others.
“When you establish a friendship, I have found, the Lord allows you to share the gospel,” said Hansen, the founder and owner of Nortek Inc. “I have learned that it’s not for me to grab you by the collar, but for us to get to know each other.
“And then when you trust me, and I trust you, then we begin to share. And we share our failures and our successes. That, for me, is the way the Lord has allowed the sharing of the gospel.”
For his friendship to Union University, Hansen received the Robert E. Craig Service Award at Union’s graduation ceremony Dec. 10 at West Jackson Baptist Church.
The award is named after Union’s 13th president, who led the university for more than two decades and was responsible for reestablishing Union with the churches of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Craig was also responsible for relocating the university campus to north Jackson.
Dockery said Hansen has served Union as an adviser to the engineering and international study programs, and has helped open doors for Union in Norway and in Asia. He has also served on Union’s Board of Regents.
“While he has been supportive of the university on multiple levels, Mr. Hansen was especially generous to Union following the tornado in 2008,” Dockery said. “As an academic community, we are truly grateful for the friendship of Lloyd Hansen. It is an honor for us to recognize him as this year's recipient of the Robert Craig Service Award.”
Through Hansen’s help and initiative, Union has established an official partnership with the Ansgar School of Theology and Mission in Kristiansand, Norway. Professors from that school have taught at Union, and Union’s Greg Thornbury, Carla Sanderson and Cynthia Jayne have taught there.
“Lloyd Hansen is one of those essential friends who truly sees Christian higher education, and the work of Union University in particular, as integral to the advancement of the gospel and the kingdom of God on earth,” Thornbury said.
Born in Brooklyn to parents who were Norwegian immigrants, Hansen graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in petroleum engineering. He served a tour of duty in the U.S. Navy before serving as a petroleum engineer and then later beginning his own company.
Hansen lived in Norway for 38 years, but has now sold off most of his holdings in Nortek Inc. and resides in Palm City, Fla. He met Dockery several years ago, and said the two quickly formed a friendship.
“My life has been blessed in ways that I have no claim to, and knowing Dr. Dockery is one of those blessings,” Hansen said.
Two hundred ninety-six Union graduates received their degrees at the ceremony, with Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, delivering the commencement address. Page used the biblical account of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well to discuss the importance of “irrecoverable moments” in life.
“An irrecoverable moment with Christ changes our understanding of worship,” Page said. “Graduates from this school ought to understand about worship. It’s not about where. It’s about who and how.”