Barry Bennett is the Coordinator of the third year Ministry Training Program at Charis Bible College in Colorado Springs. This new program has effectively expanded CBC's curriculum to include a third year specifically geared for those desiring to enter full-time ministry. The third year is designed to implement Andrew's vision for a more intense time of training for those called to pastoral or para-church ministry.
Prior to stepping into his role as Coordinator, Barry had served the Lord in a variety of capacities in North, Central and South America. He was born again in the early 1970's, and is a graduate of Christ for the Nations Institute. While attending CFN, Barry discovered he had a heart for missionary work; he also found he had a heart for fellow student, Betty Kay. As it turned out Betty Kay shared the same heart, both for reaching the nations with the gospel—and for Barry. The two were married while still attending CFN, and shortly after graduation hurried out to the mission field in Guadalajara, Mexico. It didn't take long for the Bennetts to realize they had made an error. "We thought that we would be missionaries to Mexico for an extended period of time; however, with no support, no home church, and no experience, we quickly realized that we had jumped the gun," said Barry.
After four months in Mexico, the Bennetts returned to Texas and became involved with a local church. Eleven years later, after working bi-vocationally in ministry and in the secular workplace, their home church sent Barry, Betty Kay and their three children to Guatemala for language learning. From there the Bennetts were invited to work as missionaries in Chile.
For more than a decade the couple ministered in Chile, first in Concepción and then in Santiago. Their endeavors were wide ranging and fruitful, and Barry gained experience teaching, preaching and counseling in the local Spanish-speaking community. In 1992, the Bennetts were invited to Santiago to bring leadership to a thirty member home church group. Eventually the Bennetts were asked to pastor the group. Under their oversight and guidance for the next eight years, the group transitioned into a fully functioning church and the membership grew to almost three hundred.
In 2000, the Bennetts began to sense that their time in Chile was drawing to a close and they prepared to return to the States. The family returned to Texas in 2001, and became part of a large Spanish congregation where their pastor allowed Barry to launch a Bible institute. The school, which was taught in the Spanish language, met several times per week and over a period of five years graduated more than 200 students.
During their season in Dallas, Barry came across Andrew's Gospel Truth program on the radio. As he listened to Andrew's teachings, Barry gained confidence in his own understanding. "I was amazed to hear someone teaching what I had been teaching, but with even more revelation," said Barry. With confirmation that his own revelation and teachings were on track, he found he had a desire to be more connected to a ministry that was so like-minded.
A short time later the Bennett's oldest children, sons David and Daniel, both decided they wanted to attend CBC. Supportive of the decision, Barry and Betty Kay visited the Colorado campus to see where the young men would be attending school; while they were there the Lord spoke to Barry. "On a tour of the college, while passing by the auditorium, the Lord spoke to my heart and told me that someday I would teach in CBC. I was simultaneously shocked and excited," said Barry.
As the Bennetts left to head back to Dallas, they grabbed AWM job applications, filled them out and mailed them back to the ministry. In a very short time, Betty Kay was notified of a job opening at the ministry. This opening coupled with the word Barry had heard in his heart while touring the campus, were enough for Barry to make arrangements to move to Colorado Springs.
Both Betty Kay and Barry were hired within two weeks of their arrival in Colorado. Initially, Barry was brought into the Phone Center as a prayer minister, but after four months, he was asked to take over a vacancy in the ministry's Encouragement Department. In this position he answered doctrinal questions asked of the ministry via correspondence. "I remained in the Encouragement Department for two-and-a-half years and responded to some 20,000 emails and letters during that time," Barry said.
While working in the Encouragement Department, Barry submitted his ministry résumé to the Director of Charis Bible College, Gary Luecke, and expressed his interest in teaching if ever the need for a substitute arose. Months later, as Barry was driving to work, he received a call inquiring whether he could speak during that morning's 8 a.m. chapel. "It was then 7:45 a.m. I felt that this was my 'divine appointment.' I said, 'yes,' rushed into my office, grabbed some notes, which were in Spanish—I hadn’t ministered in English in 18 years, and it seemed to go well," said Barry.
Barry was able to teach a number of times during the 2008-2009 academic year, and he went on to teach nine courses the following year, while continuing to work full-time in the Encouragement Department. Toward the end of the 2009-2010 school year, Gary asked Barry to consider moving to CBC on a full-time basis. This year, after making the move to CBC, Barry has become the third year Coordinator and is enjoying teaching a total of fifteen courses.
Reflecting on his first full year as Coordinator, Barry said, "This year has been a great success. Almost forty students have completed the program and have been exposed to many facets of ministry."
Under Barry's leadership, the third year Ministry Training Program will continue to expand. Next year, Barry will be joined by Daniel Amstutz, Director of CBC's School of Worship, Stephen Bransford, Director of CBC's School of Media, and Pastor Greg Mohr, Director of CBC's new School of Business Administration to train and equip third year students in these specialized areas of ministry.
The steps of a good man are indeed ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23).