A Tribute to Jesse W. Benton (Susan’s Dad)

October 5,1926-November 3, 2009

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

I was in Rajahmundry, India on a Wednesday morning, November 4th, when I received the news via e-mail that Susan’s dad, Jesse W. Benton had died the night before. I was shocked and saddened at the news of course, but my mind immediately flashed a scene from the past before me that I would like to relate to you. This is rather personal to me, but I feel compelled to share it. Mr. Benton was 83 years young.

This past July, Susan and I and our kids were coming home from a week of much needed vacation and decided to stop by Mr. Benton’s home to see how he was doing since his health had been declining for some time.

We arrived on a Sunday afternoon, and had rested a bit. I was in their kitchen going into their den when Mr. Benton rolled up to me in his motorized wheelchair. He told me that he would like for me to pray with him, and he had a look of great concern on his face.

I knelt down so we could speak face to face. He said to me, “Mitch, I want you to pray with me so that I will know that God has forgiven all my sins.” He had tears in his eyes. He said, “I know I haven’t always done everything that I should have, and that I’ve failed the Lord at times.” I said, “Mr. Benton, I’ll be glad to pray with you. The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. When God forgives, He forgets everything we have ever done wrong, and treats us as though we had never sinned. Isaiah 43:25 says, I even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember your sins.”

I asked him if we could pray and he said “yes, please do.” I grabbed his aged hand in mine and asked him to repeat a prayer of confession and repentance of any and every sin of omission and commission that he had ever committed in his entire life. He prayed with me as tears streamed down his face. And suddenly he began to smile and then he began to laugh uncontrollably!

Mr. Benton had been raised in Pentecostal churches, and when he felt the Holy Spirit, he would sometimes begin to laugh. He would call it holy laughter. He laughed and cried tears of joy there for I guess five minutes or so, and I laughed and cried with him.

Fellowship between he and his Heavenly Father had been restored. That night, he had the first night of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep that he had in a long time. His guilty conscience had kept him in a state of unrest and fitfulness. That Sunday night, the peace of God entered his life once again as he received the mercy and grace of God in a fresh way. At times, we all need God’s mercy in this way.

I was visiting with Mr. Benton again this past September. Susan’s mother had left to go to the grocery store to get a few items she needed. Susan was in another room. I was sitting in Mr. Benton’s living room where he was in his bed that been placed there since he was ill. He looked over at me and said something, and I couldn’t understand him.

I went up to his bed and saw a hymn book lying on a nearby table. I asked him, “Mr. Benton, would you like for me to sing some of these hymns to you?” “Yes,” he replied with a smile. I began to sing, How Great Thou Art, and At the Cross. He began to hum the tunes with me as tears rolled down his cheeks. The presence of God filled his living room that day.

I picked up an old Bible that belonged to his family and read to him Psalm 100 and Psalm 23. Again, tears rolled down Mr. Benton’s face as the Holy Spirit witnessed to his heart from the Word. He and I had Pentecost all over again in his living room that Wednesday in September.

When I heard that Mr. Benton’s spirit had been released from his tired, worn body last Tuesday night, I knew that he had experience the fullness of joy, and the pleasures forevermore promised us in Psalm 16:11 when we enter the presence of God. We are not as others which have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

I look forward to seeing Mr. Jesse Benton again one day. Until then, you and I have a race to run. Let’s give God our best.

5 thoughts on “A Tribute to Jesse W. Benton (Susan’s Dad)

  1. I too was saddened to hear of Mr. Benton's passing, but rejoice that his fellowship was restored w/God, and that he was able to share some special moments w/his heavenly father before "heading home." I am glad you got bumped to business class and got, what I'm sure, was some much needed rest. Prayers and LOTS of LOVE to you, Susan, and the family!

  2. what a beautiful tribute to Mr Benton. you truly are a man of God and a very humble, sharing one at that. if anything ever happens to me and i am in poor health, i also would want you to read the Word and sing hymns to me

  3. Awesome, Praise God! All praise & glory to the Lord. Amen & Amen. You, Susan & family have been covered in prayers this week.

    With Love,

  4. Pastor,

    Thank you for sharing your heart and some of your treasured moments with Mr. Benton. Although we are saddened by the earthly time that we know Susan and the family will grieve, we rejoice with the knowledge that Mr. Benton is now "fully" enjoying his special time with the Lord. Susan, you, and the rest of the family remain in our prayers.

    The Dentrone Family

  5. I only knew Mr. Benton a short time. I do remember his love for growing things and him taking pride in the fruits of his and his wife's labor from their garden and trees.
    I truly believe he understood that their gifts from growing things were God's gifts.
    I remember his infectious smile. His love for his family, esp showing off the photos on his computer of the children and grandchildren.
    I especially remember Mr. Benton being nice to me, talking with me, sharing stories of his past living in Florence.
    For that I am so grateful. He is missed I know by all friends and family.
    I know he is in Heaven.
    Peace and blessings, daily to his family,

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