Category Archives: Uncategorized

An Embryonic Idea

I’m sure they are out there, but in all the protests and screaming, I have yet to hear an idea, solution, strategy how to handle the 600,000 illegal immigrants who enter the USA each year. Nor have I heard a suggestion what to do about the 20,000 children and teens who are roaming our country from Central America. Incidentally, of the 20,000, only 2000 came to this country with their parent(s). “…ripped from their mother’s arms” is predictable incendiary rhetoric.

“Unaccompanied minors.” That phrase has unsettled me since I met some “unaccompanied minors” in the aftermath of the Sudan crisis.

“There was no place then, and few places ever, that offered a more stimulating environment for creativity than Florence (Italy) in the 1400s” (Leonardo da Vinci, Walter Isaacson)

With the modeling done by the Guinness family, A British soap company (Lever Brothers-?) and the Cadbury people during the Industrial Revolution in Ireland and England, I have an idea. It is embryonic. Those companies built villages for their employees with a plan for improving their hygiene and ability to build a life. They attempted to touch every aspect including education in every aspect of life.

The Creator of the universe has not run out of ideas, especially in the areas that Jesus declared redemption and creation. (Isaiah 61 & Luke 4) With a vision of a 21st Century Florence—“stimulating environment of creativity.” I also refer you to Greensburg, Kansas. We did 2-3 extended meetings there as well as a couple one-niters. When the city was destroyed by tornado, they rebuilt it with a vision for the future. Technology and the electric grid underground, for example.

Looking at the crowd on any day trying to gain entrance into our country, how can we tell which ones of those kids are the “best” that President Trump says we want? Some have not been parented. Most have not been tutored and prepared for life in our culture. We are given the opportunity to shape them and train them to become the best. We cannot forget that in those crowds are some of the “worst.” This sounds like a ridiculous hope for utopia. More than that, in fact, it is battle for the souls of the lost and for the soul of our country—the City on a Hill.

A vision keeps coming to me—I cannot say where it comes from. I see new cities and villages and renovated rural towns not just to house, but to heal, train, educate and teach community. Others have tried this—(ie. the high rise buildings in Chicago). As smart as Americans are, we can learn why they didn’t work and then build on their purest ideas.

Perhaps, a better approach is to go to the source of the problem. Take all this to Central American nations—“You shall bless the nations—Genesis 12) Not to colonize sovereign nations, but to plant resources, leaders and a vision of economics, education. Plant the 7 Mountain vision. What about Daniel in Babylon? Joseph in Egypt? Early Christians in the Roman Empire?

I am waiting for the results of the weekend call for people to leave their churches if the pastor didn’t address the border situation. The “call” sounded like a demand to attack our government and president. My inclination is to issue a call to leave churches where spiritual leaders do attack the government and president. Leave to establish communities that will build. Let’s make Isaiah 58 our stimulation.

Let’s announce to the world with the 7 Spheres of influence and authority (legal and military) that this is who we are and if you want to come to USA, then this is the path to participation. You are welcome to become one of us. If you see yourself being assimilated into our values and society, then bring your best tools, ideas, culture. We don’t need for you to try to change our country into Honduras or El Salvador. We want your best traditions and skills to make us better. If you can see yourself in that role, then come join us and work for the American dream.

One of my mentors said to his children, “If I start swearing, run! My choice of vulgar language means I have run out of ideas and ability to rationally communicate.” Some of the current actions and language in our country on both sides of any conversation is described in that statement.

In our legitimate defense of what we treasure, we have allowed the American vision to grow dim. The opposition is about deconstruction—tearing down. How shall we stand against the invasion which the southern border is only a symptom?

It is an embryonic idea. The Creator/Redeemer is found in the Kingdom of God, of which the Church is a local outpost. God works through the Kingdom and Kingdom people.

Your idea? Your suggestion: what amendments to this? If this experiment of “by the people…” what will you contribute? If building a new city is not possible, how can your segment of the Kingdom do it locally? Perhaps God has brought you to the Kingdom for a time such as this!

©2018 D. Dean Benton

Will Spiritual Awakening Touch North Korea?

In case you didn’t know.

• World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse were founded by Bob Pierce in response to post-Korean war orphans. Pierce left nothing of his life on the court—perhaps foolishly. His total commitment to mission cost him his marriage, his ministry, his family and his health. He was attached to Korea with his last breath. His daughter wrote an insightful biography: Man of Vision, by Marilee Pierce-Dunker.

• The Korean Orphan choir came to our city in the 50s-60s and some came to our church—as I remember. Pierce brought the choir to the USA to build awareness and support. I have been curious about the spiritual state of Korea since then, and when we started working in churches that shared their buildings with Korean congregations—then when Pastor Cho and his church became a world-wide sensation. Then the Methodist Korean church in Seoul, Korea became huge by any measure.

The Korean Church has been graced (“You shall bless the nations….) to teach us about prayer and evangelism. Twenty-seven thousand missionaries have been sent from South Korea to cities around the world. The mountain top prayer gatherings are a phenomenon. There may be some, but I know nothing in USA to compare.

Some weeks ago, I sensed that Kim Yong Un had a spiritual awakening and wondered if that could be true and if so, how. A pastor from South Korea filled in blanks for me. Before the Korean War, North Korea was the spiritual center of Korea, experiencing awakenings and revivals. When it became evident that the war would change North Korea, the pastors went south. They became leaders of what became the SoKo mega-churches, while the NoKo communists destroyed the church buildings. The Church went underground to sing silently and to whisper their prayers.

In the early 70s, the North Korean government was collapsing. The SoKo churches built an evangelism plan to take supplies and the Gospel north. A central leadership of all denominations built a plan to plant—replant—3000 churches. The collapse did not happen—I think it survived because of China’s intervention. The SoKo churches worked on their plan of taking the Gospel to their families and fellow Koreans for four years. The plan is still in place.

In a Christianity Today interview, the SoKo pastor said that every SoKo church prays in every public worship event for the North and for government leadership.

The freedom in SoKo has brought a huge economic lift. Lance Wallnau tells mighty stories of his leadership conferences and God’s call to business and government. Many of your high technology devices are from Korea. Many business leaders are Jesus people.

This very well could be Korea’s time for breath-taking conversions—beginning with Kim Jong-un. It will take some time for NoKo to break out of the slavery mindset, much like Israel coming out of Egypt.

We know Koreans. They are uniquely wired in the Spirit. We have talked to Koreans in the USA on assignment and have heard them sing and pray. They are especially graced for evangelism and making connections. I sense beneath all the horrors over many decades, there is a Kingdom foundation that is soon going to push through the surface.

How does a born again Kim Jon-un make that public? How does he make restitution? Who will disciple him? Soul-stirring to contemplate and pray for.

Jesus, we celebrate the foundation of belief in North Korea. I speak Kim Jong-un’s name to You. Holy Spirit, however You work the redemption call and conviction, we invite you to enter his world and secret heart places to reveal the Father, the Son and Yourself. Thank you and praise You for commitments that no one should perish. Let it be so!


What I’ve Heard this Morning

1. Research shows the best thing that a father can do for his son: Hang out with him. It is during the hanging out time that values & virtues are shared and teaching moments occur. The kid learns he is important and valued. The kid learns that what he thinks and wants to do is important. That, of course demands a certain kind of dad.

2. Sixteen percent of USA population has IQ of 85 or lower. That restricts what can be learned and how they must be taught. Some is genetic connected. IQ is not static. EQ can be a dynamic life-enhancer.

3. Head Start was a disappointment. Those enrolled in the pre-school level had an early advantage, but by 4th or 5th grade it had disappeared. The non-academic by-products of Head Start were measured. The enrolled in Head Start were more apt to graduate, go on to college, not get pregnant and stay out of trouble. Studies say the reason is the socialization.

All of that is attainable and without great financial cost. All we need is families and leaders with a vision of and for the next generation.

D. Dean Benton

More at Stake

The 7 Mountain Mandate has an odd beginning. In 1975, two major leaders of youth movements were to meet for the first time. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ and Loren Cunningham of Youth With A Mission (YWAM). On the night before their meeting, each man had received a message from God, both about the same subject. Bright was shown 7 Mind Molders and Cunningham was told about 7 spheres of influence. (Google this for more info)

Lance Wallnau picked up that thinking after a conversation with Cunningham—as I remember.
The spheres were listed as:

Business—including medical community
Entertainment—sports, movies, television, music

Wallnau draws seven mountains and says the people & movements that control the top of each mountain determines the narrative and influences, if not controls, culture and other mountains. The 7 Mountain Mandate has expanded and now has many leaders and distractors. The thinking behind this movement makes sense to me. The most fascinating element is Wallnau’s calling them mountains and nations. His suggestion is that Jesus’ command to “Disciple nations…” is about geo-political regions and these seven spheres of influence.

God told Abraham that he would “bless nations.” It was prophetic and a command.

I saw the picture and read the words of Robert DeNiro at the Tony Awards. He used the f….word twice to express his hatred for President Trump. His raised fists and his facial look was an expression of hatred. The audience of entertainers applauded and congratulated DeNiro.

Which influencers are molding the minds and dictating the narrative and attempting to solely control the actions of the other “Mountains”? Media and entertainment.

When we say that “The church” or “Education” is under attack, who is the attacker? Where did the money come from to fund the high school march?

The challenge is to influence or be the mind molders. I do not want Religion to control the six other spheres. Either Islam or Evangelicals. The commission to disciple nations includes running for political office. Look at the attack on those who carry a contrary message or interpretation. The attack is guttural, brutish and without restraint. Not many are willing to put family, reputation, and every piece of life on the line. God does work in government. He puts a Joseph in a powerful place. Note that Joseph was empowered because he was qualified.

South Korea is a bright example of Christians influencing business, education, government, ect. We met a Korean couple who talked about the prayer practices of the Korean church. They go to prayer at 4:00a.m.. The lady said, “When we hear about people who go to prayer at 5:00, we assume they are backslidden.” The comment was accompanied by laughter and indication of how seriously they pray.

God has imbedded each of us with purpose, mission and passion. Some of us are called leadership in one of the 7 Spheres. The consequences are horrendous if we refuse or neglect.

There are Americans who are hoping for a failure in the Korean conversation. Others are seriously desiring an USA economical collapse to drive Trump out of office. They are willing to sacrifice everything we treasure to destroy the people they hate.

There are reasons to pray for the Korean summit. There is much at stake. And hearing God’s voice calling you to discipling nations.

©2018 D. Dean Benton


There is a bird outside my window singing as if the whole state is his audience. I’m betting 86% of its body mass is vocal cords. I thought he was talking to me, but the little bird uses some of the same words to harass the squirrels. It is an odd little bird. He is convinced his job is to build nests and to sing.

On this Memorial Day weekend, I’m wondering if we should be celebrating and remembering what we are meant to be doing. I have just finished a manuscript on hearing the voice of God and discerning what He is saying.

I was introduced this weekend to a man from Trinidad. It took us a bit to find each other’s vocal rhythms. He heard that I was a writer. He wanted to know what I write about, so I told him about my latest book on Abraham. After I talked for a while, he asked me what conclusion I came to—about Abraham. I didn’t have a quick answer. Lots of question about the first Hebrew, but I wasn’t looking for a conclusion as if I were writing a thesis that needed a proven conclusion. I just wanted to know how Abram and individual family members heard the voice of God and choose to follow Him—obey.

For over a year, I’ve studied, prayed, read books and Scripture and asked questions. What should we be about? The assumption is adamant: We are called to do what Jesus did. The question asked many times in many ways: how do we access the instruction, hear guidance to specific places and people and how do we utilize the unique Holy Spirit power for this age?

Several writers and speakers have been speaking into me about what Followers of Jesus are to be about. Secular writer, Dr. Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules of Life, seems to me, is God’s voice to the general population of the Western Culture and the generations now alive. His message has rattled many, angered many more and stimulated many of us to say, “hmmm!” Another Canadian, Bruce Alexander, wrote Globalization of Addiction, in which he virtually says, cut off the market for drugs and you will stop the flow. What I have heard from the book sounds like many of the basic principles of family, faith, community, interaction and devotion to calling.

Pastor Bill Johnson’s book, Hosting the Presence, and his teaching has prodded me for several months. He pastors Bethel Church in Redding, California. I have been remembering and seeking ways to re-member Kingdom life. (His two books mentioned here are strong enough to request your attention.)

Pastor Johnson has written with Randy Clark. Their book, The Essential Guide To Healing, stirs memories of Jesus commission of all disciples and the work He did that we desperately need in 2018 and beyond. Given biblical illiteracy, “nones” dominating those being asked which faith-view belongs to them and absence of God’s activity visible to the majority of three generations, nothing less than a radical, drastic and dramatic spiritual awakening will gain attention. Nothing less than an awakening that leads to revival and evangelism of ethnic groups and nations will speak to the destructive elements at work in our culture, families and institutions. The gifts of healing, knowledge, wisdom, leadership and deliverance are basic to the new that must come.

Memorial Day impacted me. To recall that 23,000 Americans died in one day at the Battle of Antietam—also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg (Maryland) Civil War. One-half the number we lost in the entire Korean War—died in one day on American soil—12 hours!

Memorial Day for me has not been to think about what once happened or what used to be, but honoring and celebrating and remembering the values, principles, infrastructure and foundations that are central to Jesus’ Kingdom today and what the Kingdom is about and what Jesus’ followers are called to be now, today in our current civil war. There are many more slaves in the 2018 world than in 1862.

Like the little bird—announcing to the world—we are re-membering what has been rent.
©2018 D. Dean Benton

Parent Company

Didn’t Krispy Kreme donuts go bankrupt last year? It must have been for protection. Headline yesterday said that Starbucks is no longer North America’s favorite coffee shop. Krispy Kreme is. How and when did that happen? I knew where several Krispy Kreme shops were, but they all closed.
Krispy is owned by JAB Holding Co. This Luxembourg based-company owns Keurig-Green Mountain and said last week it plans to acquire Dr. Pepper-Snapple Group Inc.

Speculation that Dunkin Donuts could be purchased by Paneras’ parent company while JAB Holding company agreed to buy Panera Bread Co. for about $7.5 billion. JAB Holding Co. already owns Au Bo Pain and Peets Coffee and Tea.
Tim Hortons, a Canadian coffee chain, has acquired Burger King and Popeyes. I hear great things about Tim Hortons coffee. I know there is a Tim Hortons in Ft. Wayne, and I have Peets in my coffee safe.

Research concluded that Peets is the best—healthiest and most desirable among dozens of brands with Dunkin (Original) coming in second. The shocker for me was that Eight-O-Clock brand was number one in another test study. It has been winning best taste surveys since 1859. My friends who travel internationally say Au Bo Pain is a winner.

All of this says something about bankruptcy laws and when you buy a burger or drink Dr. Pepper it is hard to know who really is running the corporation. And where do we go to find a Krispy Kreme coffee shop? If it is that good I want a cup.

There are so many layers of ownership and management and diversification. Who is really in control?

A week ago, I was listening to sermon on strongholds and it nailed me. Strongholds are the key component in limiting maturity in Christ. They are targets in renewing the mind. Strongholds appear to be the major block to accomplishment.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 is a manual on getting at stronghold walls and what is hiding or hidden inside. After all the verbiage is defined, it seems to me we are told to work through the layers to find who/what the “parent company” is that controls our stronghold(s).

The arguments, pretensions, disobedience are not outside us, but within protective walls in the soul. They come like grenades over the wall to keep the hidden, secret, stuffed memories or thinking patterns from being confronted by truth. What is the parent company with controlling stock?

Paul says we are to abolish, bring into subjection, punish, take captive. The conflict is against whatever comes against “the knowledge of Christ.” I’m thinking that is not limited to an evangelistic conversation, but grappling with our own self-talk and faith that is not accepting God’s view of us.

We were watching a little bird. It stepped outside the bird house entrance onto a limb and announce its joy. Carole said, “I think that bird is singing over its house.” No argument, pretense, disobedience.

Here’s to Krispy Kreme and to demolished barriers to our thriving and God’s favor.

Copyright 2018 D. Dean Benton

Church Bathrooms

Genesis 26:1-6

Traveling in a van means I changed from traveling clothes into a suit in church bathrooms. I learned to hate men’s church bathrooms. So many of them are back behind the furnace. Seldom is there an adequate mirror, and almost never are there hooks to hang my suit on while I skinny out of my jeans. Lids are scarce. Something is bound to get wet. Men can’t be trusted with carpeting. Sometimes we get a door on the cubicle. You must decide what you intend to do before you enter for there is no turning around once you are in there.

Funny thing about church bathrooms. When they are remodeled, the church spends $6000 on the women’s room and $3.64 on the men’s room. The women get wall-to-wall carpeting, mirrors and Formica. The men get a new pail.
I survived by improvising. For evening events, I would find a Sunday school room, put a chair under the door knob and change clothes in the dark. Having gotten my britches and shirt on, I would turn the light on and use the exterior window as a mirror. Stained glass will not work. With the darkness outside, my reflection shows on the window perfectly to put on my tie, comb my hair, get my mustache on straight.

One evening in South Carolina, after a great potluck, I grabbed my tie and coat, excused myself and headed for the men’s room to finish dressing for the evening meeting. As I reached for the men’s room door knob, a lady standing at the drinking fountain said, “Sir, you’ll have to wait, there is already someone in there.” I thanked her and replied, “That’s okay. I’ll just find a window to use.”

It wasn’t until after I had “used” the window that I realized why the lady got that shocked look on her face, wrapped her cloak around her tightly and backed away from me. She didn’t stay for the singing and concluded some fierce things about Yankees.

Months later, I told that favorite bathroom story on a Sunday morning in one of Iowa’s largest United Methodist Churches. After service, the family was standing at the product table when a man stopped to say he agreed about church restrooms. My mother was standing near. She thought the man said “restaurant” and replied, “I raised him in one.”

There are times when no matter how precise you say things or how hard you try, you don’t get it right or people misunderstand. Families fall apart, fathers fail, mother’s come unglued and children make very bad decisions. Other times all of the above happen on one day before lunch.

We met such a family. After the glass had been swept up and the sticky words had been washed off the walls, a teenage daughter and sister had packed and left. The following weeks were grisly. Lots of tears and regrets. Mom and Dad decided they would go back to church. They arrived at the church entrance at the same time the absent daughter arrived. The usher didn’t know about the declared war and just swept the whole family together and ushered them to the family pew.

No one looked at each other or spoke a word. We sang a medley of songs that concluded with “Have I told you lately that I love you?” I told a story about our son Doug who tells those who are posing for a photo, “Will you moisten lips—preferably you own!” I invited people to grab a hand, squeeze; hold on tight and to sing with us. The broken family tentatively reached out and then got into heavy-duty hugging.

Restoration is such a fine family word.

Perhaps, God found a friend in Abraham because He knew the first Hebrew would follow Him, even when life was temporarily in the toilet.

Meanderings—Swapping Road Stories with Abraham’s Tour Group
©2018 D. Dean Benton
An ebook available in May.

Case of a Laughing Robot

Sometimes I have to check in with you just to make sure I’m still on track. I heard that by 2025 there will be more robots on the earth than humans and by 2028 robots will have genuine emotions. Let me sort that out. Tell me if I need heavier-duty meds.

Our daughter’s African Grey parrot says in a sympathetic voice, “Ahhhh…” when someone says “Ouch” or indicates injury or stress. If someone cries, the Woodrow’s response is even more emotional. As much as Woodrow likes me and enjoys calling my name, and gently taking a treat from my fingers, if I stick that finger into the cage, he will bite it to the bone. Is he feeling “genuine emotions” with the “Ahhh…”?

My concept of the mental ability of animals has changed. When Debi read the research to us about Ravens and their family flocks, we learned that ravens, crows and magpies (?) can negotiate, know when they get a raw deal and will hold a grudge and seek revenge for up to two years. If you harm one of their flock, they will wait for the right moment and seek to “get you back.” They are mischievous, have a sense of humor and enjoy play. In certain climates, they are seen playfully sliding down snow covered roofs.

I am convinced that whales, some gorillas and large animals including elephants have ability to talk to each other, sing and emote. When Theodore Roosevelt went on safari to the Amazon, wild lions and other cats would attack the horses. He observed the crying of the horses in fear/terror as chilling and horrible to hear.

Did you read the report about rogue teen-age elephants that became violent. The cause was traced to separation from the herd and absence of male influence and resident fathers?

Can a creature express “genuine emotion,” in contrast to parroting, without possessing a soul? If your pet has a soul, does it need to be “saved?” (We’ve had pet cats that certainly needed to repent!)

What about robots. How will they be programmed? Who will do the programming? How is a genuine emotion programmed into plastic, wires and such? Can a programmer install only positive emotions? Emotions, as a category, include anger and hate. What if there are community organizers among the robots who seek to overthrow governments or take out your neighbor? Who will police the emotional robots? What agency will hold them accountable?

Self-driving cars? Will they also be programmable for suicide missions?
Going to have some answers before I purchase (or adopt) a Roomba vacuum cleaner. It probably would ambush me on the way to bathroom in the middle of the night.

Life use to be simpler. I’m considering pulling all the plugs and cutting all the cables in self-defense.

©2018 D. Dean Benton
Wonderer & Writer

Have a happy Palm Sunday

When did Jesus’ Triumphal Entry end? The Gospel writers tell two stories. One narrative has Jesus entering the city, walking around and looking at the Temple and then going to Bethany to return the next day to “cleanse” the Temple. The other story has Jesus entering the city and chasing the money changers out of the Temple immediately.

“Here, hold the colt while I take care of Temple pollution.”

Since Jesus orchestrated the Triumphal Entry, I wonder what his intention was—what outcome? He had avoided the applause and told people to tone down the rhetoric. He usually left town when the crowds started making noise about declaring him king. But on Palm Sunday things changed. For what purpose?
The Entry didn’t end there, but when the parade reached the overlook and Jesus saw the city, the cheering stopped and Jesus wept. He predicts what is going to happen. The last phrase of Luke 19:41-44 sets my soul on edge. “…you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.” Other writers quote Jesus saying, “…you didn’t recognize your opportunity.”

Henry Clay from Kentucky was a professional presidential candidate. His life focus for nearly thirty years was running for president. I am not surprised that the United States survived the Civil War as much as I am surprised she survived Henry Clay. In the 1824 election, Clay swung the election away from Jackson, who had won the popular vote, to John Quincy Adams through an electoral college maneuver. It was called “the corrupt bargain.” On his death bed, Andrew Jackson said one of his regrets was that he did not shoot Henry Clay.

Not much has been said about the election of 1840. Over three decades Clay ran for and lost the presidential election three times in three different political parties. He was still actively looking for ways to move into the White House. In 1840 William Henry Harrison was selected to be the presidential candidate and the party offered the Vice-Presidential slot to Henry Clay. He refused. “Disdainfully,” the historian says. He would not be shuttled off to a secondary position. He had worked for the nomination and above everything and everyone, he deserved it. The establishment, therefore, selected John Tyler as Harrison’s running mate.

One month after the election, William Henry Harrison died and the vice-president John Tyler became President. Henry Clay had missed his opportunity.
Back to that hill overlooking Jerusalem. Jesus weeps over missed opportunities and the unavoidable consequences. Was he talking about the single mother or the Jewish fellow who operated the neighborhood deli? What could they have done to shift outcomes? What did Jesus want from them? How had they sealed the fate of this city—“you of all people would understand the way to peace” (Luke 19:42b)?

Henry Clay would run for the presidency again in 1844. He lost. Novelist-historian Irving Stone says,

“He blamed his defeat on fraud, foreigners, Catholics, abolitionists, Tyler-ites, renegade Whigs—on everything except the life, career and character of Henry Clay.”

The King James Version translates Luke 19:44: “…because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

I don’t know what to do on Palm Sunday. We cannot duplicate it with a great worship event. I worry about the colt getting home and how Jesus’ words impact that Jerusalem deli owner. What am I to do with the palm branches—it feels so awkward and unnatural. So I get stuck with Jesus overlooking the city and weeping. It is easy to tuck Matthew 23:37 into the story:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

I don’t want to miss the “visitation.” So, I calculate my life, actions, character and contemplate what needs correction or adjustment. I stand as close to the colt as security allows and say to Jesus, “I don’t get all of this. But, I’m willing. What? Where? With whom? I’m willing.” Jesus is Lord!

What is the appropriate Palm Sunday gift?

©2018 D. Dean Benton—first published March 2016—

Thank You, Mr. Graham

The most influential instrument in my boyhood was the radio on top of my grandmother’s refrigerator. It must have been uniquely wired. All it ever broadcast was the farm news, preachers and singers. I’m still not sure what a pork belly is, but I got it straight when it came to preachers and singers.

I don’t know the first time I heard Billy Graham preach. It just seems like the whole Graham team was always part of our family. We listened to The Hour of Decision beginning before I could reach the radio dial. We knew the Wilson brothers, George Beverly Shea. I was impacted by Cliff and Billie Barrows. Later, we met the wife and family of the crusade pianist and many men who worked with Mr. Graham. A man attended one of our meetings who told me he had spent the week with “Billy.” I couldn’t figure out who he was talking about until he said, “Ruth.” He had been a Graham team member during the Youth for Christ days.

During the days when my family of origin was fragmenting, we lived at Grandma’s on several occasions. We were at radio side during the Los Angeles crusade and heard the stories of gangsters, entertainers, athletes and educators coming to faith in Jesus. Those names and stories became part of my youth.

By the fifth grade, Mr. Graham family and team were extended family. It was not long after the L.A. Crusade that Graham came to Des Moines. We were about the last ones getting into the building. Mom and sister found two seats together in the third balcony and I found one open seat on the last row at the top of the auditorium. When the altar call was given, I found Mom and told her I was going to the altar. It seems to be my first confession of faith—“Mom, I’m going forward….” It felt a long trip down the back stairs to the main floor and then walk to the stage where I met a counselor.
Even when I wasn’t living for the Lord, I knew one day I would be a preacher-evangelist.
Radio, television and music gripped me. I made many altar call walks during the long journey of healing. The Graham ministry was important in that process. I learned about ministry integrity. It was Mr. Graham who first announced he would not be with another woman than his wife for dinner or in a car. He had a team around him, friends he had known most of his life, who entered every hotel room to make sure there would never be a morality question. His office team lived with strict guidance handling the money. And the Graham generosity became the standard. The important things I saw in the lives of the major evangelists I studied or worked with were financial integrity and open handed generosity. Carole and I benefitted from several convocations, conferences and gatherings paid for by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn. The same can be said about Oral Roberts whose desire to do all things top drawer and generous sowing into pastors impacted me.

Several years ago, we visited the Chapel on the Graham Asheville, N.C. campus. Our friends Gary and Marilyn Hansen lived in Asheville and were tour guides on that trip. If you’ve watched the Gaither Homecoming series, you have seen the singers in that chapel. Any description of my experience in that prayer loft and visit to that chapel would be inadequate. I was very aware of what Jesus had done in me, and his present active work. I felt recommissioned. And so appreciative for the people who had influenced me and been agents of change and healing. I regret we didn’t stay longer—days longer—to wander over the many acres to encounter Christ and further celebrate the company of witnesses whose presence permeated the landscape.

Thank you, Mr. Graham for your faithfulness and example.

©2018 D. Dean Benton