By Carl Stagner
Thirty-two years of ministry dedication is no small feat, especially under challenging conditions. While it’s true that the kind of kingdom laborer deserving of recognition is also the kind that acknowledges no need of earthly honor, honor is nevertheless warranted. For more than three decades, the Bentley family has served among the Lakota people in Allen, South Dakota, without a lot of recognition. Despite the ebb and flow of resources, a society plagued by addiction, and the inescapable loneliness of the remote Upper Great Plains, their resolve could not be shaken. Paul and Kathy Bentley, and Barry and Shelly Bentley, who followed in their footsteps, would endure for the cause of Christ. They were committed. Now the Church of God is committed to honoring these heroes of the faith in a ceremonial celebration on August 19.
Everyone is invited to Pass Creek Church of God in Allen, South Dakota, on Saturday, August 19 for a celebration of the Bentleys’ dedication to home missions. Beginning at 1:00 PM MDT, the event will feature favorite songs of the Bentleys, words of gratitude for the Bentleys, a brief history of their time at Allen, an inspiring sermonette, and a presentation of gifts. One of those gifts is a quilt that was commissioned to be sewn—such quilts are a Lakota tradition when showing honor. As the torch of leadership in Allen is passed on to Church of God home missionaries Tim and Kim Wardell, the parsonage is also being converted to a bunk house for work teams and short-term missions groups; the new building is being named after the Bentley family in a special ceremony of dedication.
At the conclusion of the afternoon, the church will hold a children’s book giveaway. After all, the children of the community have been incredibly close to the Bentleys, especially Kathy and Shelly. “Seventy percent of kids drop out of school here before their sophomore year ends,” Tim Wardell explains. “Kathy and Shelly really dedicated their ministry to the kids, and our desire is to continue to help them in their education, encouraging more reading and learning.”
Shelly Bentley confirms that sentiment. When she looks back over her time in ministry at Allen, it wasn’t about the church services or the mechanics of ministry. It was about the children. It was about relationships. “The time that I spent with the children, and the time that I just spent with people one-on-one—visiting and having conversation over coffee. That’s what I’ll remember most vividly.”
People were what mattered most to the Bentleys. That’s just one reason Tim is greatly humbled when he considers the awesome responsibility of receiving the torch of leadership from Shelly and Barry, and Paul and Kathy before them. “We just want to carry on what they’ve begun,” he explains. “The truth of the gospel will continue to be preached. We want to stay completely immersed in the culture and the people to show them the real Jesus, in hopes that it will change the direction and environment here.”
Stay tuned to www.chognews.org for more information coming soon about the ministry legacy of the Bentleys!
For more information about the August 19 celebration, contact Ryan Chapman at RChapman@chog.org or visit the Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/651414375055827/. To learn more about Native American Ministries, visit http://www.jesusisthesubject.org/native-american-ministries/.