Finding a major to study is not always a long, excruciating process. Sometimes God makes it clear on a person's heart what he or she is called to do-occasionally even at a young age. Just ask Ben: "I invited Jesus into my life at age 13," he says, "and a year later sensed God's call to ministry. That call has been continually sharpened and refined since that time." Ben knew for years that he wanted to get involved with ministry. He just had to discover the major that fit best.
Ben didn't need much time in the first ministry he chose-Christian education-to realize that he'd made the right decision. "I have long had a keen desire to help people along the journey of discipleship," he reveals, "which is probably my greatest motivation for majoring in Christian ed." Ben found the perfect niche in Christian education and didn't ever look back.
Because he lived close to home, Ben gained much of his ministry experience working with his Maryland church and community during his college years, and he also spent time with the Messiah Gospel Team. Mostly, Ben credits the education he received through his major for the richness of his time at Messiah. "For 20 years now my major has served as a solid foundation for [my work]," he asserts. "I still have, and use, many of my notes from Christian ed. classes."
The general education program at Messiah exposed Ben to fields of study he would not have experienced through his major, enriching his academic experience by familiarizing him with topics in which he always had an interest. Learning about different aspects of the world ripened Ben's understanding of his own course of study. He elaborates, "I have always loved science, partly because I see God and His wonders in all of creation." Messiah deepened Ben's interest in the sciences; he even spent four years as an Emergency Medical Technician. Ultimately a firm grasp of science serves to heighten Ben's comprehension of God's wonders, and he is able to pass that on to others through his ministry.
It didn't take long for Ben and his wife Judy (find her vocation profile here) to find work in missions, answering God's call for their lives. Ben and Judy followed their call to missions into seminary training.
• "Get into the gospels and get a grasp on the person and work of Jesus, and develop sensitivity to His leading."
• "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door."
• "Try stuff out, stick your neck out, and don't write off an opportunity until you've tried."
• "Develop a humble sensitivity toward people, because that will make you or break you."
After seminary, Ben dabbled in a variety of jobs before receiving his current job through the International Mission Board (Southern Baptist Convention), which placed him in contact with the Baptist Churches of Tasmania. The latter group "accepted, commissioned, and invited" Ben to work as a church planter/evangelist in Hobart, Tasmania.
Ben did not receive a job from the Baptist Churches of Tasmania straight out of seminary. In addition to working as an EMT, Ben most notably served for 5 years as a church planter in Vermont. Much of Ben's additional work experience includes various volunteer mission jobs.
The church-planting process has many steps. One can't just build a church and expect people to come. Those living in the area must be nurtured in the word and witness of Jesus before any true church, the body of Christ, can begin. Ben's work consists of many components, including:
Sharing Jesus with non-believers through personal witness
Preaching in other local churches
Training and mobilizing people to do mission in their local context
Establishing house churches with a view toward a church-planting movement
Organizing community service events related to pre-evangelism
Starting and leading new youth groups
Of course, Ben cannot do all of this at once. Any given day he could be working on a variety of projects related to the above tasks. Most of Ben's time, however, is spent building relationships with people, rather than working at a desk. He became involved in missions for the people, and they remain his top priority.
The love Ben feels for God and for doing His work reminds him every day of why he pursued a career in missions. "My primary interest is work, believe it or not!" Ben says. "I love the challenges presented and the freedom to explore new ways of doing and being the church today." Ben's own passions continue to train him in his vocation and keep him on fire for what he does. "The single most important learning tool continues to be the Bible," he says. "I want to intensify my reading and re-reading of the gospels to get a grasp on the person and work of Jesus, as I feel this is the most central part of being His disciple and an apostle sent out in His name."
Ben doesn't need to look far for service opportunities-his whole vocation is dedicated to serving the children of God by telling them of Jesus. In addition to church community development, Ben frequently organizes missions and service work within his community.
Truly settled into his life and vocation in Tasmania, Ben's ultimate goal is to spread the word of Jesus to every "Tassie." He plans to do this by continuing to plant bodies of Christ and physical churches throughout Tasmania.
Profile by Brianna Davidson, August 2005