I find myself a little overwhelmed.
March 15, 1993 ‘it’ began. When ‘it’ started, ‘it’ didn’t have a name. Over the next year a name was determined, corporation papers submitted, excess medical coverage for participants obtained, nonprofit status applied for and gained.
Why is BENCHMARK called BENCHMARK Adventure Ministries? It’s not because I think we’re the benchmark standard. Learn about our name here.
My mind is racing through so many people who were instrumental in the early years of BENCHMARK Adventure Ministries. I think of Mark McPeak who was the adult pastor of the church I attended at the time, who encouraged the gifts he saw in me and used his own considerable gifts to move BENCHMARK forward. I think of Vicky Smith and Barbara Evans who for years encouraged and with Mark became BENCHMARK’s Advisory Board in early 1994. Later that year Jim Lauthern joined us. They served a lot of years and I am grateful.
If I listed the 18 men and women who have been Advisory & Board members, or instructors who have been a part of our staff or those 100s of organizational leaders who invited BENCHMARK to have a part of their on-going ministry serving over 13,000 participants through 434 ministry events, it would read like one of those Biblical genealogies and you’d stop reading.
But just like a seemingly boring genealogy, there is richness and depth in God’s grace that’s worth acknowledging.
Oh yes, I’ve made a lot of relational mistakes. I’ve hurt others and been hurt too. There have been times when I was ready to quit this journey and needed someone to tell me the ministry I was doing was valuable, helpful. Other times I needed to simply believe the God I say I serve and trust him even more.
Growth is hard, good and uncomfortable.
Today there are values that are still as important today as when BENCHMARK began. These values still provide a framework to aspire and embody.
• spiritual formation and leadership development for all involved; participants, staff, volunteers and founder
• commitment to be a debt-free ministry
• seeking strategic involvement trusting God with the results
• speaking the truth, sometimes even in love
• acting in other’s best interest
• making the most of every opportunity
BENCHMARK has always been about people, not an organizational structure or location. Remember pilgrim and aliens, we’ll not be on the planet long.
And though there are times when I have questioned the decision to start a nonprofit and had days when I didn’t think BENCHMARK would make it to the end of the year, God has been faithful. So many people have been kind and faithful. I see God working it out in me over time and He is good. He’s working His best out in others too.
Interactive experiences and outdoor adventures create a setting for all involved to consider how they’re currently living with an eye toward being different, better, healthier, mature, complete in Christ. One decision today can completely change life. Our mission is to stimulate significant life change toward wholeness in Christ. That….THAT makes getting up every day worth it.
What brings a smile is that by the grace of God, the generosity of donors and volunteers and a bit of stubbornness, this experiment called BENCHMARK Adventure Ministries continues.
Celebrate with us today.
James H. Evans
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