Our friend Ben Farley went to heaven this week. Here's a collection of thoughts regarding Ben and the way he lived his life.
Ben knew everyone, everywhere.
No kidding, we had some friends who travelled to a remote village in Africa. What did they see?
Someone wearing a TEAM BEN bracelet. I had phone calls this week from as far away as Scotland and Australia offering condolences. It's not, therefore, an exaggeration to say that Ben had a global impact.
Ben had a revelation of the goodness of God.
I've never known Ben not to boast in the goodness of God. He was always positive throughout the time he had cancer. Shortly after he had been admitted to hospice, Ben sent me the following text.
Consider the context: Ben is in hospice. He knows that in all likelihood this is the end of a seven year battle with cancer and he’s looking death in the face. He’s weak and in what ends up being the (almost) last piece of communication I receive from him, he’s talking about the goodness of God. He’s celebrating all that God has done for him and refuses to look at the pain or the circumstances of his life. He always purposed in his heart to celebrate.
Ben lived with peace.
I’m not sure what’s going on in this photo exactly, but I do know this is a pretty good image to represent the peace that Ben carried everywhere he went.
I remember the first time I met Ben. It was a number of years ago at the front of church. He had come up for prayer and I was on our prayer ministry team that morning. I asked him how I could pray for him and what it was he needed. His answer stunned me.
“Uh, I just had surgery and they cut this massive tumor out of me the size of a football and so, yeah, I guess I want healing for that.”
Of course he told me this while lifting his shirt so I could see the residue left behind from surgery.
The trouble was - and this happened several times through the years I spent with Ben - is the words coming out of his mouth didn’t match the sunny disposition he always possessed. He would often describe trauma that was happening in an almost off-hand way - while hosting an insanely large grin on his face.
Over the next few years I got to know Ben better as he came to our school of ministry first as a student, and then later as part of our staff. The conversations like the one above would be frequent. He would often be flying around the country for tests and procedures and when I’d enquire how the trip went, he’d say,
“You know Alyn, after the 3rd or 4th time you have your doctors gather you in a room with your family and say you’re going to die in a few months, you stop believing them”
And that would be that.
Ben loved Jesus (well d'uh!)
Why was Ben so confident and joyful even in the face of death? He had learned the same lesson as the Apostle Paul. Writing in Philippians 1.21, Paul said,
"Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose." - The Message
It’s hard for us to think like that isn’t it? But Ben had a secret. If ever there was a verse in the the Bible that summed up the way Ben lived it would be this verse in 1 Peter 3.15:
Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. - The Message + NIV
Ben had the hope he had because he had a Master he adored. For those of us who knew Ben for more than 10 minutes - we know he had a relationship with Jesus and it was rich, real and vibrant. Ben’s relationship with Jesus wasn’t past tense, it was present tense. We all know Ben is in heaven - probably getting rowdy - and of course we have promises in the Bible that we can be with him when we die. But on our way, please let's ensure we don’t coast getting there. I saw Ben nearly every day live extravagantly for God. Do the same. While in hospice, one of the nurses commented, “Oh I wish my son had the same faith that you do” and Ben - literally in the bed he died in days later - grabbed her hand and said, “Let’s pray for him now”.
Ben was joy, all the time.
At the School of Supernatural Life we have a checkin system that tracks our students' attendance. Students scan their ID cards infront of an iPad camera. This week I found out that every day after students had logged in, Ben took the time to also scan in. But not with his badge; with his face. Look below at the collection of these photos. With no audience, Ben was secretly capturing his face, and it was a face filled with joy. But keep looking at those photos. Over time, Ben influenced others to partake in this secret prank of joy. That was his gift to all of us. He was a giver of joy.
Ben had radical faith.
In preparation for Ben's funeral, I asked Ben's friends to send in stories that illustrated what made Ben, Ben. Here's a sampling.
Legless Dude at Kroger
It was supernatural evangelism week, I think, and this was our homework. So we were out on a Friday night, after having fortified ourselves at Chick-Fil-A (well, I had anyway). We're wandering round Kroger, and we see this guy on crutches. He's on crutches because his left leg, from the knee downwards, is missing.
Just then Ben's phone rings, so he takes the call. It's one of his buddies. It was always one of his buddies. Probably because he had, like, 1.5 million buddies. And he's saying "yeah bro.. dude I gotta go. I'm in Kroger with Quinn and we're about to go see someone's leg grow out..." I almost passed out.
- Andrew Quinn
Probably my favorite Ben memory is when we were on outreach with SOSL last spring at Auburn. We were on Ben's home turf and he was pumped. One afternoon I just tagged along while he made his rounds around campus to connect with people, old friends and his favorite places. Everywhere we went we ran into friends. Everywhere.
We stopped by his old fraternity house where he was intent upon finding the house moms who cooked and cleaned so that we could pray with them. They were overjoyed to see Ben. They both had pain in their backs and knees from standing and working all day so we prayed with them. They were so grateful and full of joy and life, just like Ben. They both felt better and wouldn't stop hugging us—not just Ben but both Ben and I. I was a friend of Ben's so I was their friend too. This moment so epitomized my experiences with Ben. He grabbed hold of faith and stepped into the FUN of the Kingdom. He, against all odds, chose life at every turn, and he brought everyone along for the ride.
- Micah Antanaitis
Treasure Hunting - Ben's Way
I went on outreach with Ben to Auburn during our year in SOSL. One day we were sent out on treasure hunts and we were paired up together. It's an interesting combo because Ben didn't seem to have a nervous bone in his body and was pretty much all influencer and I wanted to take it slow and think things out.
We had barely walked into the building we had heard from God when Ben walked straight up to a girl who matched his description. "Okay, I guess we're getting started then!" I thought.
We had great conversations with the people we met but didn't find "the one" at first so Ben came up with a new strategy - sit on the floor against the wall and get people to come to us. So we sat down and he would see someone walking by that looked like the person matching his description and just say, "Hey! Yeah, you- hey! Can you come over here for a second?" And of course they would.
Ben would ask them if they had pain and we would pray for them. Some people were healed and some people we prophesied over. He saw a few people he knew and they would just come and sit down next to us for a while and we'd pray or prophesy and then they would get up and go on to class. Several people were really blessed and most of them felt like they initiated the whole thing because they chose to come over and talk to us! It was definitely different from any other treasure hunt I'd been on. Ben's naturally supernatural way of life is pretty unforgettable.
- Katie Robinson
Ben gets rowdy
I think it was early Spring of 2012. There were a handful of people in the back of the church worshipping including Ben, Trent (his good friend) and myself. Holy spirit came over us and we were all singing so LOUD (which, at the time, wasn't that common at our church) and praising the Lord. Joy filled the room and I clearly remember Ben and Trent YELLING at the top of their lungs... just worshipping their hearts out... you could feel the passion and love they had towards the father's heart.
- Lacey T
There are some amazing photos of Ben rolling around the internet at the moment. All of them capturing Ben brilliantly. His smile, his goofiness, his influencer at work but when I saw this photo of Ben at his school graduation I thought it captured another side of Ben that we all loved; his honor and his affection. I know of few people who could give and receive honor like Ben. He was one of the most consistently honoring people I know. He was thoughtful and intentional. What a treasure.