To tell the story of NNU is to tell the story of five generations of world-changers. From its beginning, NNU sought to train and send vocational ministers to serve around the world. Two couples who exemplify that mission are Francis and Ann Sutherland and Ryan and Angie Ketchum.
Several decades removed from each other, the Sutherlands’ and the Ketchums’ hearts do not at first glance seem to beat in rhythm, but these kindred spirits, 90 years separated, live in tune with each other and resonate with the aspirations of our community—to make the world a better place through the love of Jesus. As the Sutherlands set an example for service to the school and to the Kingdom, the Ketchums are both followers of that example and leaders for the next generation.
As a soldier in World War I, Francis Sutherland could never have guessed where the Lord would take him. After returning home because of a serious combat injury, he married Ann in 1918. They took a train to Nampa, where he had secured a job as professor of modern languages at NNC. Two years later, with President H. Orton Wiley’s reluctant blessing, the Sutherlands left NNC and sailed to the Far East as missionaries. They ministered in the city of Chengan, China for five years before growing military tensions in China forced them to leave the country.
"Several decades removed from each other, the Sutherlands’ and the Ketchums’ hearts do not at first glance seem to beat in rhythm, but these kindred spirits, 90 years separated, live in tune with each other and resonate with the aspirations of our community..."
In 1926 they returned to teach at NNC again. For 10 years, Francis taught not ministry, church building or pastoral training, but history. Although an experienced missionary, he taught the subject about which he was passionate. After a decade in Nampa, the Sutherlands again requested to leave NNC to serve God back in China. Francis led as principal of a Bible school. Ann supervised the bookstore and the Chinese Christian Workers Band, a group parallel to NNC’s student organization by the same name.
The Sutherlands are still remembered for their God-serving spirit and dedication to enabling God’s next generation of world-changers. They led by example and shared their experiences after returning to the college. The Sutherlands inspired others to follow them by serving God through their own passions. They taught students to respond to all opportunities God provides and use them as outlets for ministry. The Ketchums are products of this way of thinking and epitomize that same dedication to use every opportunity to be ministers.
Ryan and Angie Ketchum’s mission field is wherever they stand. Ryan graduated from NNU in 1998 with a degree in music theory. Angie graduated three years later with a bachelor’s degree, and again in 2004 with a master’s degree in nursing. After several years in ministry at College Church in Nampa, they returned to NNU as employees. Ryan was the resident director (RD) for Culver Hall from 2005-08, and, as any RD’s spouse knows, the job required the investment of both of them.
Like the Sutherlands, the Ketchums felt a call to serve the Lord overseas. Their departure from NNU was a surprise to the NNU community; they had been doing a fantastic job in their various roles in Nampa. God knew they were needed in India, not as pastors or preachers, but as a private music teacher and resident nurse for Hebron School. They served happily for three years, and again, following God’s open door, in 2011 they moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. As they were settling into their new jobs, Ryan as K-12 music teacher at Logos International School and Angie as mother of four working on a master’s degree, another unexpected turn removed any hope for calm routine. Angie was diagnosed with cancer.
A year later, the news was good, but in the midst of the visits to hospitals, time away from their children and moving the whole family to Thailand for six weeks, there were many opportunities for despair. However, the Ketchums discovered a new avenue of ministry instead. They started to share their story through several blog sites. One of them, hosted at caringbridge.org, had over 14,700 views. Even a time of overwhelming uncertainty became an outlet to share about God’s constant provision.
NNU is a place that inspires global perspectives and servant hearts, and these two couples are examples of the many that serve in unique and meaningful ways using their individual talents to make the world a better place. The Sutherlands started this trend early. The Ketchums are back in Cambodia, back to using the opportunities God provides, back to enriching God’s legacy and back to inspiring yet another 100 years of Kingdom building.