By Ben Beland

I will never forget December 1, 2021. In the weeks prior, I had been seeking what our next step for ministry would look like for our family. At midnight, I relieved my fellow officer from duty at the NOBTS campus police and took my usual shift. In our conversation, I remember mentioning that while I really loved my work on campus, I would definitely consider any offer to serve at a local congregation. Little did I know that my family’s life would be changed six hours later.

As my shift ended, I walked to our weekly Church Planting Residency meeting. As I walked into the room, I saw two men that were visiting. Our pastor and leader, George Ross, presented them as two pastors from a church in Indiana seeking to begin a church-planting internship. After the class, I had a small chat with Bobby Pell and Darin Garton from NorthWoods Church in Evansville. I got really excited about the opportunity to come alongside a congregation that seeks to multiply churches for kingdom advancement. I went home and found my wife feeding our two kids breakfast and simply asked her if she wanted to move to Indiana. Her answer still makes me smile; “Yes, what’s up there?”

Our fate was soon fixed as we just knew that God had opened the door for us to engage in a year-long intern position. On July 1st, we moved our family Thirteen-hours north to serve and grow in the ministry God had called us to. While I was blessed with a deeply formative time over the year, we were most impacted by falling in love with the people we ministered to and the local churches we worked with. On December 31st, a little Hoosier was born into our family, forever creating a bond between us and our adoptive State. While serving as a church planting intern at NorthWoods Church, I was blessed to join the SCBI Next Step Connectors and work alongside numerous pastors in the Southwest Region of the State.

Simultaneously, I was closing up my studies at the graduate level at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. My wife and I had numerous discussions of what would become our next step as a couple and how can we engage the greatest problem on earth, lostness. On a Friday evening, we sat one more time on the couch, open our hearts, and began listening to the Lord’s directions. Two hours later, God had transformed our plans into an option that was yet to be considered.

We decided to begin preparing our family for cross-cultural missions and application for the IMB. Knowing this step will take numerous months, we also sought to be mindful to make the most of our time here in the USA. Considering this realignment in our lives, we believe the time has now come for me to embrace a Ph.D. in Missiology to sharpen my mind and gain additional skills to serve on the field when God allows us to go. In the meantime, living in an adoptive country also allows me to live like a missionary and minister to people that do not look like myself. Considering all these factors, my wife and I decided to move to New Orleans for my studies but also engaging one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.

The sad news is that this next step leads us away from a home we learned to love and enjoy. We know that it is only a farewell, but departing is always bitter. Nonetheless, we are encouraged. We saw numerous thriving churches that embrace the Great Commission, make disciples, and take part in transforming the world with the Gospel. Jesus himself told that “No one who has left house or brother or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, who will not receive a hundred times more, now at this time, houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come“ (Mark 10:29-30). This passage resonates true as we found a new family in Indiana, and now must leave again as we seek to reach the lost and offer them to partake at the table of the Lord.

As we walk the leap of faith for our next step, we hope for the day to bring along the churches of Indiana wherever God is sending us, to partner together and see the gospel be found where it previously was unheard.