Picture taken in 2006 during my first survey trip
The choice of which veteran missionary you will work with during your first term on the mission field is incredibly important. I thank God that He led us to the Benefield family to work with during our first term in Cambodia. To the glory of God, I can tell you that during time that we were in the Benefield's ministry, Bro. Benefield and I never had a cross word with each other. And I thank God for that. My outlook on ministry in Cambodia is extremely positive, and I owe much of that to Bro. Benefield's leadership. In this post I want to list some facets of my experience working under Stephen Benefield that may prove helpful to a missionary who is still considering which veteran missionary he will work with for the first term.
- Bro. Benefield and I are like-minded- not only doctrinally, but in our biblical convictions and standards as well. There are probably some small preferential issues that we may differ on, but for the things that matter (doctrine, biblical separation, ministry philosophy to name a few) we are like-minded.
- We agree in our spirits. I still remember the first time I went to Cambodia back in June 2006. I went alone to work with Bro. Benefield. He picked me up from the airport, and I knew within the first 15 minutes that it was going to be a great month of ministry in Cambodia with him and his family. I already knew that he was doctrinally sound, because Pastor Paul Chappell recommended him to me. But I was so relieved to see that Bro. Benefield had a joyful, Christ-like disposition. He didn't treat me like an inferior, but he treated me like I was a co-laborer.
- This probably ties into the previous point, but it is so important that it warrants having its own spot in this list. Bro. and Mrs. Benefield have a hilarious sense of humor. He is serious about the ministry. He is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. But he has a great time doing it. When I look back on our time working with the Benefields, I remember countless- and I literally mean countless- times that I was laughing so hard that it hurt. I think this is one of Bro. Benefield's attributes that has kept him in Cambodia for twelve years. Because trust me- there are plenty of things on the mission field that will make you cry.
- Bro. Benefield has a great work ethic. I really don't need to belabor this point, but I am glad that God led us to a veteran missionary who is busy doing the right things (soul winning, discipling new believers, training men, producing and printing materials, etc.) on the mission field.
- Bro. Benefield is a family man. He protects time for his family. He loves his family the way God desires a man to love his family. I knew the very first time I walked onto his property and heard his children shout in excitement, "Daddy's home! Daddy's home!!!!" that he is a man who is committed to being a godly husband and father.
- Bro. Benefield was easy to serve under. I placed myself under his leadership (which is what I was supposed to do), but he always treated me as an equal. There were a few times that he had to correct me over mistakes I had made- but he always corrected me with utmost graciousness.
There are probably some more points that I could add to this list, but these are the major ones. There is one important point that I want to make here. I was already aware of these things that I listed before I chose to work with Bro. Benefield because I had spent two months with him in Cambodia before I ever went to the field. I took my first trip to Cambodia in 2006 as a single college student, and I took my second trip with my wife and 5 month old daughter in 2008- both times working with the Benefields. Those survey trips proved to be invaluable, because they helped solidify whom I would work with during our first term.