Today, we were thrilled to join in the celebration of Benny Bowman, and 35 years of ministry.
But really, I would confidently say we all celebrated 35 years of life-giving impact.
Benny and Connie Bowman are my spiritual parents.
As they are for so many.
But for me....
I can say without hesitation that much of my love for Jesus is because I saw it modeled so purely in them.
Scott was serving on the Student Ministry team, and they were on a youth retreat in Fort Payne.
Little did I know, they prayed for him that weekend. They prayed that God would send him the help-meet that his heart desires.
I had no idea that was me.
I really had no idea that I was "desired" as a partner in ministry.
What in the world?!
I had not been home from college long. And I can only imagine that just a few weeks later, when I showed up on the scene, something inside them must've laughed "God....are you serious?!"
But they unknowingly accepted the challenge of mentoring me.
I was worldly. Oh was I worldly.
Connie and Benny both loved me with a love that was greater than love.
Only that love that God can give.
They prayed for us when we got engaged.
They loved us and ministered to us when we lost Elijah.
I wasn't reachable during those days.
My heart was shattered beyond repair.
And they called us into their office --the couch was old and worn but it was so safe--but I can remember that it swallowed me whole just to sit in the safe-place that was their office.
They told us "this will tear you apart, or this will be the strength of your marriage. You are both grieving. And you grieve differently. But you have to do it together."
I'll never forget them for that.
I trusted them. I knew they sought Jesus with their whole heart.
And at a time where I couldn't even see thru my blurry tear-filled eyes to search for Jesus, I trusted them. I knew they were right. And I believed that they were only looking out for the "best us" possible.
Just months later, we would ask them to do
The unthinkable, and sing at Kendall's funeral.
They accepted with an honored smile.
I know, later, after looking back, how hard that was for them. They had loved Kendall from the beginning.
And they brought the sweet spirit of the Lord into the church that day.
And I worshiped with them.
Again, I trusted them. I trusted their strength.
I knew if they said we could get thru this, then we would.
I was so thrilled to know that my boys would have that same leadership in their lives.
But God had other plans.
When Benny told us that God was calling him to another location, I sobbed.
Only because I knew what my guys would be missing.
But. I knew that this too would be ok.
I trusted them.
And of course, Chapman is still in those critical years, but Mason has had some amazing youth leaders and experiences.
And then, all of a sudden, Benny was the team Chaplain for his football team. Funny how God gives us our heart's desires.
I watched as Benny ministered to those boys. He taught them the Word of God. And they trusted Him. They knew he was real. They knew it was not about football to him, but football was the avenue that God was giving him to reach them.
I loved watching from this perspective. As I loved those boys too.
Today, was a great day, celebrating Benny Bowman, but what it really was for me, was a reminder of the impact that we have on people.
Again, as I strive to not waste my days and opportunities that He's given me...I'm thankful for such an excellent role model.
And I'm thankful that they took me in (they really didn't have a choice) and they parented me, as I learned of the Lord. And they showed me how to find Him, trust Him, and fall in Love with Him.