Gene Benware, Clearview, St. Petersburg
I was raised a Catholic in a very dysfunctional family of seven with an alcoholic father and parents who didn't go to church; however, we were made to go. I knew there was a GOD, but had no idea of who Jesus really was or knowledge of the Bible.
I started to work at about age 10, mostly to help support the family, graduated, and joined the Air Force to get away. I got married after two years and immediately left for the Vietnam military theater for two years without my wife. I got out of the Air Force, started to work for an international firm in Canada and began raising a family. I looked to see where God was at a local church and quickly became disillusioned because we didn't fit in.
I moved up the corporate ladder; and after 14 years, I found myself working in Africa and Egypt for six years, leaving Lorna, my wife, to raise our two boys. I thought I was in control and didn't need GOD. Upon returning home, sick and tired, the company decided I wasn't needed any more, and I was out of a job.
After six to seven months of looking for answers in the bottle and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to move to Florida and a new life. One boy was in college and the youngest had run away with drugs, so everything seemed to be broken, except my wife sticking by my side.
On our first Sunday in Florida, we went looking for a church. We walked down the street to St. Mark's UMC and were welcomed with open arms. Those loving and caring people were none like I had ever been around before. I saw something in them that I wanted. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was JESUS in their lives. After about two years, I slowly began to find out more about GOD and JESUS.
Three years later, I lost my job again. This time, the bottle and poor me was replaced by GOD and JESUS. HE taught me to lean on HIM. What a difference! I started my own business helping people, had more time and money, true friends, a happy wife, and JESUS by my side.
Twenty-six years later, I have rededicated my life to JESUS, and look for HIS guidance in all that I do. I am now attending Clearview UMC in St. Petersburg and presently serving as lay leader.
As HIS disciple, my future plans are to help people come to know JESUS. Specifically, I plan to work alongside JESUS to save the local church and keep it close to the people in need. I plan to help develop ministries to meet the people where they are in life and let them know they are not alone. Telling my story may help them relate.
Up Next Week…
Pastor Juana Jordan, Harris Chapel UMC, Ft. Lauderdale
The pastor tells how a member’s confession helped her refocus on her calling and how she had been trying to shirk back from it and downplay it. It also helped her discover that she needed to be intentional about inviting God to be a part of her process to become the pastor and disciple He intended for her to be.
The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church
450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33815
(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011