News of Grace Series: Getting to Know Our GMI Missionaries
This week’s featured missionary: Mike Benton
Mike and Terese lived in Post Falls, Idaho, and attended Mountain View Bible Church prior to leaving for Tanzania. They met while attending the University of Idaho and were married in 1986. Mike received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and went to work for Itron, Inc. in Spokane immediately after graduating in December 1985. He was a Software Engineer there. Terese earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations in May 1986. She worked at various jobs for a few years before landing her “dream” job in the Public Relations Department at Kootenai Medical Center. She worked there until Erin was born in 1990, at which time she chose to stay home to raise their children.
Mike began to feel a burden for missions. The burden grew over the next couple of years and Terese began to share the burden. God used missionary conferences at their church to really speak to them. Mike and Terese decided to go on a short-term mission trip to Tanzania with their church. There they learned of the needs and the opportunities to serve in Tanzania. Upon returning and after much prayer and discussion, Mike and Terese applied to serve under GMI and have been serving in the Rukwa Valley with a focus on vocational and children’s ministries. They are currently involved in the building and starting of an Elementary school in the village of Ilemba where Christ will be shared during the school day.
Mike has a heart for children. In Tanzania there is rarely a day that goes by that you would not see him involved in some aspect of children’s ministry in Tanzania. He and his wife make a wonderful team together.
Now let’s hear from Mike, his answers, to the 10 questions we have been asking each missionary we have the opportunity to better get to know.
What most excites you about your field and ministry?
When a leader we’ve been working with takes “ownership” of a ministry and leads with grace and integrity.
What is the most difficult about your field and ministry?
Getting committed, godly leaders that make things happen whether the finances or a missionary are there or not, especially in children’s ministries.
Name 3 things God has taught you as a missionary.
1) To say no.
2) To appreciate other cultures instead of judging them.
3) God looks at the heart.
What did God use to call you into missions?
Mission conferences and other missionaries. Most of our lives we hadn’t been exposed to missions so it was very exciting to see how God was working worldwide. After supporting missionaries for years we began to feel Him calling us. He put a desire in our hearts. He used His Word, His Spirit, prayer and other people to lead us to missions. Though I would be leaving a great, high-paying job and we would be leaving behind everything we knew, God confirmed in us that there was no better place for our family of 6 to be then where God wanted us.
If you could share anything with someone considering missions what would it be?
It’s not easy but it is worth it all.
In what ways have you seen God’s faithful provision?
He has provided through His people the 13 years we’ve been here in Tanzania. We brought our children here to Africa with some fears but we gave them to Him and He took care of them. They are all back in the states now and serving the Lord in one way or another.
Probably the most dramatic time is when our son broke his leg in the middle of nowhere and it took us 2 days to travel to where he could get some good help. Looking back we see how God went before us every step of the way.
What is a favorite thing about the country you serve in?
The people – hospitable, friendly, stress-fee, never in a hurry, caring
Who was one person that had a big influence in your decision to become a missionary?
Pastor Dave Rachoy – Encouraging and supportive the whole way. Even though we would miss each other he encouraged us to follow God. He was an example of sacrifice for us as he left a lucrative opportunity to serve God as a pastor. Honorable mention: (Dan Moyer (God can use you if He has your heart), Doug Lefebre (serve the Lord and let him worry about where)
In what ways can others best encourage missionaries
Prayers and notes that you are praying. Seeing people that have faithfully supported us is such an encouragement.
What is one of your favorite funny memories from the field?
Having a conversation in Dar es Salaam with Steve Sherman and a Tanzanian. In the middle of talking Steve’s front tooth fell out. The Tanzanian, without skipping a beat, said, “It happens” and we went on talking. Steve was in Dar getting dental work at the time and the tooth was a temp, thankfully.