Ben was raised in Romanism, and Karen as an active member of the United Methodist Church. Before they met, they had a couple of defining life experiences in common. Despite their religious upbringings, they hadn’t heard that they were lost, nor that they needed a Savior and needed to be born again.
Ben heard the gospel for the first time at 17 and at 20 he gave up, quit playing church and trusted the Lord Jesus as his own. (Thanks for preaching to servicemen, Mike Pearl!) Just a couple of years later Ben and Karen had an inauspicious beginning as recorded in the following excerpt in an article from No Greater Joy Magazine: “When the meeting ended, I introduced myself to Ben and he impressed me by forgetting his name (true story). He opened the front of his Bible and found it there.” Shortly after that fun event Karen trusted Jesus as her Savior and God brought them together as man and wife in 1984.
But God. It’s been the story of their lives together as they raised 5 children while Ben served in the Navy, retiring as a Chief Petty Officer. Through deployments, regular changes of duty stations, extreme illness (Ben tried his best to die in 1991) and all of Ben’s visionary direction(less?), a constant theme throughout has been “but God” who has sustained us, blessed us, and cared for us every single step of the way.
Today we serve on the staff of Onward for Christ with Isaiah and Kristy Mahlstedt and Elliot and Tiana Shupe. Our staff’s heart’s desire is to win souls to Christ and to challenge, empower and train young people across the country and around the world to seek the lost for the glory of God.