The Lord has been carefully preparing him for the next step throughout his life. Now, at Missions Door, we are thrilled to announce John Benza as the newest member of our Strategic And Leadership Team (SALT). John comes from a background of quick acceleration in the business world as well as ministry. After faithfully following the Lord’s direction from business to ministry, and from California to Colorado, John has been led to Missions Door to serve as the Vice President of Partner Relationships. We are so excited to introduce him to you!
John was born and raised in New York in an Italian Catholic family. He went to an all-boys high school and then to a Jesuit college, where he studied Computer Science. John was even the president of the Computer Science Club in college.
While in college, he met a brilliant young woman named Debbie, who had a different view on life from other students on the campus. The two of them would meet and philosophize about life. “I was always intrigued with her approach to problems, her attitude toward life and the aura of peace she exuded,” John says. After several years, they began dating. One day, John expressed interest in attending a Palm Sunday service with Debbie, as that had been one of the few church occasions his family would attend during the year. That morning, the service struck John differently from any past experience, and right then he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.
Five days after graduation, John and Debbie got married.
After college, John immediately began working as a Systems Programmer at IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) for main frame computers in New York. He was promoted rapidly, becoming a manager for IBM at age 23. Later when he was promoted to director status in the company, he became the youngest director in IBM’s history at that time. Throughout his time at IBM, John and Debbie moved ten times, including international moves to China and South Africa. About twenty years into his career, they moved to California where IBM’s data center was to be built. Because of the infamous rolling blackouts, the center was instead built in Boulder, Colorado. So John’s responsibilities required him to commute to Colorado for two weeks of every month.
During this time of being away from his family so frequently, John recalls their only child, Jesse, grabbing his leg and asking him not to leave again. “Why is everyone so miserable?” he remembers thinking. This led him to the next chapter in his life, of no more long-distance travel for IBM. Sharing with his pastor about his growing discontent with his job and its travel demands, to his surprise his pastor said, “We could really use someone with your skills here at our church.”
After much discussion and prayer with Debbie, John sensed God’s leading out of the business world into ministry in a local church. He accepted the position of Director of Administration for the First Baptist Church of Los Altos, CA. He immediately took on the challenge of leading a capital campaign program to fund major renovation projects. God had prepared him well in the business world and now he was using his skills to advance the success and efficiency of local church ministry. He also was given responsibility to work with the global mission outreach of the church where he began to get acquainted with missionaries around the world, especially those serving under WorldVenture and Missions Door.
John’s involvement in world missions through the global outreach of FBC, Los Altos, brought him to Denver to connect with the leadership of WorldVenture and Missions Door. On one of those visits, leaders from both mission organizations talked with John about the possibility of serving on their leadership teams. God was once again directing his path. Having served for twelve years at the church, when Jesse was ready to go to college, the timing seemed right to sell their house in California and move to Colorado, where John accepted the role of Vice President of Finance and Administration for WorldVenture. He was a key part of their executive leadership team for almost nine years until June of 2020.
Believing God was calling them back to California, John was prepared to go back into the secular work world, after having worked in local church and international mission ministry for over 20 years. Through every step along the way, God had been preparing John for the next chapter. He had been following this path that God laid out for him and believed that God would make it clear to him what his next assignment was to be. That’s when Missions Door President Rick Miller invited John to breakfast and challenged him with the opportunity to move to California but stay in ministry on the leadership team of Missions Door. After much prayer and discussion, and a thorough process with Missions Door, everything began to fit together with a clear sense that God was once again orchestrating John’s life for His purposes. We are thrilled that such an exceptional leader has landed at Missions Door as the Vice President of Partner Relationships!
God Owns All the Cattle on All the Hills
John’s new role at Missions Door is two-fold. Initially he will help with a conversion of our personnel and partner management system from a software-based system to a cloud-based information management system. God prepared John through college and IBM with an extensive background in technology and financial operations. This has already paid huge dividends as he has helped local church ministry and WorldVenture modernize their systems and technology. He has a knack for project management, technology, and financial matters. We are excited to have John’s expertise in helping Missions Door modernize our information technology to better serve our missionaries and ministry partners.
In Partner Relationships, John is eager to strengthen and expand relationships with partner churches, organizations, and individuals. There are hundreds of individuals, organizations, and churches who have been so faithful to us for many years, and the value of those relationships cannot go unnoticed. As John seeks to strengthen our relationships with our partners, he will be responsible for providing leadership in the development and oversight of a comprehensive strategy for the overall funding of Missions Door.
To further describe the task within his new role, John points to the Prayer of Jabez from the Old Testament. In this passage, we read: “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!’ . . . And God granted his request.” (1 Chronicles 4:10).
Jabez is described as an honorable man. He prayed fervently and relied confidently on the Lord. He asked the Lord to enlarge his territory, which is more of a concern of Kingdom advancement than physical property. In fact, upon further delving into the Scripture, we come to an understanding that Jabez is asking for God to enlarge the territory of his heart—that it can pour into more and more people around him. And so, the Lord blessed Jabez—just as he had asked.
So what does all this have to do with partner relationships?
The Lord has abundantly resourced His Church, and part of the role as the VP of Partner Relationships is to find those resources—and to make sure those resources are stewarded well. “God will not enlarge our pen to have more sheep unless we are good at it and responsible,” John says. “He will only do that if we’re going to care for the sheep He sends. If we don’t, why would He send us more sheep?”
As the Vice President of Partner Relationships, John will aid the Mission in tending for our sheep well—to show them where God is working and to provide the opportunity to come alongside us as partners and know they will be cared for. With a drive to do better and a desire to see Kingdom growth in any setting he is in, John will do just this at Missions Door—just as he has been doing for nearly four decades of organizational advancement, both in the secular business world and in ministry—for greater Kingdom good.