When Chris and I got married, we started seriously looking for a church to call home. We had visited several churches in the area, trying to find the right fit that blended Chris’ Methodist upbringing with my Southern Baptist roots. We also wanted to find a church that had strong children and youth ministries for the children we hoped to have one day. We both grew up in churches that had strong youth programs, and I feel that those programs were instrumental in grounding us during our college and young adulthood years….the years when, oftentimes, that first taste of freedom and independence sometimes leads to a departure from the Christian faith. We wanted that for our kids, too. We found that mix at Bethel and joined the church on our first wedding anniversary.
A couple of years after we joined Bethel, we were asked to serve as coordinators of the Children’s Sunday School program. During that time, I became pregnant with our first child, Madison. The Sunday School teachers at that time held the sweetest baby shower for us. The kids were asked to help with the shower and their excitement at being able to help was precious. There were lots of oohs and aahs over the tiny little baby gifts. That is pretty much when I started feeling like we were part of a very special church family. Once Madison was born, we would bring her into the Sunday School office with us. The girls would all come in to see her after class was over. Some of those little girls who loved on her as a baby grew up to be fierce protectors and mentors for her as she moved into first the Children’s Ministry and then the Youth Group. She still cherishes those friendships today.
The thing we appreciate most about Bethel is definitely the Children’s and Youth Ministries. As we had hoped, both of those programs have been instrumental in helping us develop Madison and Matthew into Jesus- loving, faith-filled young adults. From learning about Jesus under Ms. Jana’s loving care and crazy fun-filled activities to diving into deep biblical studies and discussions with Chad to learning to be the hands and feet of Jesus on numerous youth mission trips, our kids have had experiences and created lasting bonds and memories that they will never forget.
Those experiences have helped create a desire in both Madison and Matthew to pursue careers which will allow them to serve and help others. And we love contemporary worship. It has always been a special place of worship and renewal for both of us, but even more so lately. The past year has been the most difficult year of my life, culminating in the loss of both of my parents within a 5-month period. Worship, along with the people attending with us, has been such a place of comfort and peace for me. I treasure that time of rest and renewal and look forward to it each week.
We learned generosity mainly from our parents and grandparents, but also from our church families growing up. Chris’ parents always had a huge garden and they spent summers, in addition to their full-time jobs, tending that garden faithfully and sharing the fruits of their labor with friends and neighbors. And we watched our parents give generously of their time throughout the years in different aspects of service to their church.
We choose to support our church financially because it has been such a blessing to us and because that is what God calls us to do. When we joined the church in 1993, we vowed to uphold it with our prayers, our presence, our service, and our tithes. While we have had seasons where we have not given 100% in all of those areas, we have strived to be obedient to God and to our church. Between us,
we have had many opportunities over the years to serve, as nursery workers, Children’s Sunday School teachers, Youth leaders, Audit and Finance committee members, UMW Treasurer, etc. And what we have found in all of those years of service is that we have received so many blessings in that service, through friendships, bonds, and many lasting memories made that we will treasure forever. And God has been so good to us…..it is only fitting that we give back to God what God has given to us.
We hope that Bethel continues to grow and continue to expand the programs for the children, youth and young adults. After all they are the future of our Church. Our prayer is that Bethel continues to bless future generations as much as our family has been blessed through the years.
Chris and Lisa Benfield