Friendship Across the Aisle

Whenever high school seniors ask for advice about their first year of college, I always encourage them to choose their friends wisely. Friendship has the power, for better or for worse, to reshape our sentiments, priorities, and plausibility structures. In the worst of times, this looks like St. Paul’s warning to the Corinthians: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” But in the best of times, it looks something like the friendship between Ambassador Tony Hall and Congressman Frank Wolf, which now spans three decades of public service.

“Friendship has the power, for better or for worse, to reshape our sentiments, priorities, and plausibility structures.”

In 1984, Hall and Wolf were second-term members of Congress, representing Ohio and Virginia respectively. Hall asked Wolf, with whom he met weekly for prayer and Bible study, to take a trip to Ethiopia to witness the effects of the famine. “I won’t be able to help them unless I have a partner, and I need you to be my partner,” he said (“Prisoner of Conscience,” 2011). The trip was a turning point for Wolf. Over the next thirty years, despite standing on different sides of the aisle, Hall and Wolf joined forces to tackle issues facing the poor and vulnerable—such as hunger, religious persecution, and prison rape. Although they have not always seen eye to eye on political issues, their shared love for Jesus Christ has enabled them to stand shoulder to shoulder in defense of “the least of these.” One friendship reshaped two callings and saved countless lives.

On September 10th, Wolf and Hall came to AEI to share their story at our 2014 Evangelical Leadership Summit in morning session moderated by Cherie Harder, president of The Trinity Forum. We hope you will enjoy this candid conversation about faith, friendship, and the transformative, unifying power of the Gospel in the public square.

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