This week’s Person of Promise shared their story at great risk, so his name has been altered, the specific location will not be revealed, and photos will not be included. Regardless, his story shows the power of God and what He is able to accomplish no matter the circumstances. As you read, we ask that you prayer for this pastor, his church, and his situation.
Ben grew up in a small village in one of the poorest states in his country to godly parents. His father served as the Superintendent for 25 years. He and his two sisters were taught to fear God from a young age, and as a child, he witnessed first-hand what poverty truly is. Ben’s father pastored a local church and his mother taught in the Mission school. Their small compensation was nothing compared to what the family needed, and Ben remembers seeing and understanding how his parents struggled to support their family.
This lack of provision caused Ben’s faith to diminish, and as a young man, he realized he was an atheist. Ben shared, “I did not believe in the existence of God, and though I attended church every Sunday, my family and friends did not know that darkness was consuming me day by day.” Dejected and depressed, he confined himself to his room for an entire year. After that time, Ben made the decision to end his life. Before he could though, he had a sudden urge to go to his father’s bookshelf as if someone was pushing him towards it. His eyes fell on one title Ablaze for God by Wesley Duewel. He was convicted to open and begin reading right then, and as he started reading, Ben felt the wonderful presence of God. With tears flowing, he finished the entire book that night and woke up as a new man touched and transformed by God.
Although he felt a new joy and peace, Ben still struggled with low self-esteem and an uncertain future. While alone in a remote village during his first posting for a humanitarian organization, Ben got down on his knees and prayed to God for guidance and purpose in his future. He remembers clearly hearing the audible word of God calling his name and telling Ben that He had chosen him to serve Him and preach His living Word. It was also during this time that the Lord helped Ben remember a prophesy a man of God shared with him when Ben was only 7 years old: that he would one day serve God.
Afterwards, Ben knew he was not meant to continue his current work, so he turned in his notice and left for Bible college. However, he had always been a shy and introverted person, so much so that it was difficult for him to speak in front of people without stammering. Ben thought he may never become a preacher because of this, but God filled Ben with the Holy Spirit on the midnight of June 29, 1998, and Ben’s concern was no more. “All I wanted to do was run out on the streets and preach His word to all,” he shared.
After graduating, Ben was sent by the Conference Board to help a senior pastor even though he did not have experience in church planting or pioneering. God had different plans though and took Ben and his wife to a different place to pioneer a new ministry in 2002. He shared, “Little did we know that God can use simple people like us with no experience to do His mighty work.”
Ben continues to pastor the church that he and his wife started over 20 years ago. It has grown to include nearly 60 families with 400 house churches in 6 different districts. They also have a Community Development Center which serves as a worship and training center, as well as a Center for Social Development for projects like a free music school, women empowerment, and free coaching center for poor and needy students.
Ben excitedly shares, “Today, as I preach His word to hundreds and thousands, I stand as a testimony of His grace. Midnights are special in my life! It was midnight when God first revealed Himself to me; it was midnight when God chose to call me to His ministry, and it was midnight that God filled me with His Holy Spirit! Wonderful are His ways!”
As an atheist who found God, Ben is grateful and proud to share the Lord’s personal and life-transforming encounters in his life in order to help others who struggle with depression and identity crisis and bring many more into a relationship with God. “I strongly believe that God’s hand has miraculously led me through all my life’s situations to make me what I am today. That’s why I can boldly say like the Apostle Paul in I Timothy 1:15, ‘This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.’ If I, a sinner who never believed in the very existence of God or His amazing love, can become a preacher of the Gospel, it is indeed true that God saves sinners and makes them His vessels to do His work.”
We thank Ben and his family for their dedication to the Kingdom of God and pray for their continued safety.