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I was raised by 4 Fathers. This one taught me the strength of being different.

Blog 2 of 4 “I was raised by 4 Fathers.” This particular father taught me about the ‘beauty of being different.’

In my previous blog, I highlighted the very first man who taught me what being fathered was about. My own blood father. My daddy. The one still married to my mother. 😊The one I lived with for 23 years of my life before I emigrated to the USA. See previous blog. (I am blogging about my fathers in the order than I met them in, timeline wise.)

The 2nd Father I am going to highlight today is the man who introduced me to Jesus. I actually met both of them the same night, in Jan 1992. His name is Bill Bennot. He had moved to Africa with his young family of 6, from the USA. He was a former college athlete (wrestling) who had been marked by a hunger for Jesus to “save the nations…” I remember the night I gave my heart to Jesus like it was yesterday. I remember when he asked at the end of the evening if anyone wanted to “Accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That He was not just around to wash and clean me. That He had come to change my very DNA into a superhuman being. One that was filled with His Spirit.” And how I jumped to my feet in absolute anticipation of my encounter of the God kind!

This fiery, fully alive man, whose words themselves felt alive and fingerprinted for me at the time, changed the course of my life forever. I ended up being on staff at the church that he led in South Africa before I moved to the USA as a missionary myself. I moved to the inner city of Durham NC, where I lived and taught in a faith based group home for children. It would be years later where Bill and my path would reconnect, and our relationship and friendship between our families would really grow in depth.

It seems very pertinent during this time of racial climate, to write about this man. He was the first man to teach me about the reality of my OWN heart when it came to racism. I had grown up in South Africa, in the apartheid era and being ‘racist’ was very systematic and thorough. It wasn’t as if I consciously held the belief that I was better than anyone else, or worse than anyone else, it was the very FACT that until I met Bill, I never questioned the state of ‘just how it is.’

Bill challenged our mindsets from the pulpit and from example. He is a fiery Caucasian man married to an even more fiery Hispanic lady. You can just imagine the strength! He challenged our congregation, “Don’t tell people you are not racist just because you sit next to another person of color at church, but you don’t know their story, you don’t know their family story and you are quite frankly not even interested to learn.” And thus began many meals and many questions asked across the board.

He taught us that unity is not ‘sameness’. That we were all born beautifully different. But it’s in the differences that we complement, not compete. That we were to pull from each other’s strengths and learn from each other in our weaknesses.

By the time I left Africa in 1998, a group of my best friends came to say goodbye to me at the airport. Before I met Bill, (and Jesus for that matter…) I literally had no people of color in my outer circle, let alone my inner circle. Yet waving goodbye to me as I took off was the most precious mixture of colors any wealthy friend could ever have.

To this day, Bill still challenges the blinders off of me in different areas. I am so grateful for the Apostolic leadership and love that he has invested into my family’s life. He speaks truth. He fathers. He brings perspective and wisdom to many situations. He loves. He asks forgiveness. He is humble. And when he plays his guitar and worships, angels fly in from coast to coast to join him…it is just that intimate and full of heavens breath.

I am forever grateful for this father.

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