Once in a while, you get a chance to honor someone who has had a great impact. Someone who devoted their life to something so much bigger than themselves.
This is my chance to honor the memory of a man, taken too early, but willing to lay down his life for Jesus. This is in honor of Chad Benjamin
In an effort to tell the whole story, I will be using what was on their website along with what I received from Chad’s wife, Nancy.
The following was taken straight from the website. Racing for Jesus Ministries
Chad Benjamin and his team began Racing for Jesus Ministries out of a love for racing, but more than that…. the race that we strive to live each day in the world. Our goal is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with no compromise or shortcuts both on and off the racetrack. To take the Word to wherever God would have us go. The race is hard, but the checkered flag is wonderful!
Chad has been racing for more than ten years. He is married, and his wife Nancy is very involved in the racing and the ministry. They have three children still at home.
Chad is also the President of Outlaw Compact Auto Racing, The Northwest’s Original Touring Compact Auto Racing Series and is the Outlaw Compact’s 2010, 2012, and 1013 Points Champion.
The following is from Nancy, Chad’s wife.
This is a a true story of how God took a life that was going in the wrong direction and
completely turned it around. He had a rough childhood and made many wrong choices throughout his adult life, with drugs, alcohol, and bad relationships being a recurring theme.
He eventually ended up in prison for 20 months on drug charges. While there, he decided it would be a good time to read the Bible all the way through.
There were believers in his family that he knew had always faithfully prayed for him, but he had always chosen to take the opposite path. The more he read, the more he saw the truth in what the Bible had to say, and eventually he made a commitment to turn his life over to Jesus.
He used to say that it took God putting him in a little tiny box behind bars to get him to see the truth. He began attending prison Bible studies, started trying to clean up his language, and began reading Joyce Meyers and whatever other Christian authors he could get his hands on. Towards the end of his sentence, he began to have some physical issues…. his voice was changing and he was having some difficulty breathing…. so he went to the infirmary to be checked, and was found to have advanced laryngeal cancer.
Weeks later, while waiting for treatment, he was really struggling to breathe. He kept telling the nurse that he couldn’t breathe, and was essentially ignored. Finally he got out of bed to go speak to someone about it and collapsed, waking up 6 days later in intensive care with a tracheotomy. He had almost died.
He was fully aware that God had spared his life and given him another chance, and he took this very, very seriously. He was so ill he was released from prison on house arrest to his mother’s care where he continued his cancer treatments. Since he was on house arrest and then probation, he was limited in what he could do, but he was allowed to attend religious services, so he joined every Bible study and men’s group that would have him, and began volunteering at church.
At the time that I met him, he was attending or teaching at some church related class or event 6 days a week. Several men who had been in the faith for many years mentored him and became very close friends. He had been in a ten-year relationship and had planned to marry this woman, but realized that this was not part of God’s plan for his life; he felt that God had gone to so much trouble to turn his life around, he would be making a mistake in continuing a relationship with someone who was still in the drug culture, and she was unwilling to listen to his “Jesus talk”. He eventually ended pretty much all his former friendships and had to start a whole new life.
He told me that when he got out of prison he had little besides a Bible and a race car with a blown engine. He bought a big reflective “Jesus is stronger than hell” decal for the hood of his car and set about showing all these people who had known him for years as a druggie, that he was a truly changed man.
When I met him, he was leading Singles Ministries at his church. A friend of mine met him first and I can remember her excitedly calling me and saying, “I just met your future husband.” I laughed. I was divorced and absolutely NOT looking for a new relationship. She was very insistent and kept telling me more about him. I remember her saying, “You’d love him, he’s a race car driver!” and I was rather outraged and said, “what on earth would I do with a race car driver??” lol!
At the time, I lived a very quiet life, just raising my kids and trying to get by; I didn’t know a thing about racing nor was I particularly interested in learning. The more my friend insisted that i meet him, the more resentful I began to be and I resisted for quite some time. Finally she persuaded me to attend one of his singles ministry’s functions with her, where I pointedly ignored him the whole evening. At one point she walked past him and called out “oh Chad! Here’s that lady I wanted you to meet!” and I was so angry with her I just walked away! It took 6 months before she persuaded me to go to another of his functions, this time a barbecue at his family’s lakeside property. I announced when I got there that I was only going to stay 2 hours. When the two hours were up, I gathered up my salad and started to leave, and he came up and started talking to me.
I was floored when he told me about his past…. I honestly had no idea. I only knew him as a good Christian man who was very involved in his church. I was so intrigued, I had to find out if he was for real, so I joined his Bible Study group. There was an interest between us, but he was very concerned about doing things properly, so we were never alone. Instead he would announce to the group, “we’re going to do Friday Night Feed this Friday, if anybody is interested” but he would be looking at me while he said it, hoping I would come. Of course I always did.
That fall, he became ill…. because of his history of cancer, he was more prone to illness…. and I began driving him to his doctor’s appointments and trips to the ER when he was sick. He was too sick to work, and I didn’t have any money, so we never really went on a proper date…. we had our “hospital dates,” where we would sit in the waiting room at the ER at all hours of the night, talking and falling in love. Eventually he got better, and springtime came, along with racing season.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about racing but after the first race I attended with him I was absolutely hooked. I became so passionate about it that I tried to learn as quickly as I could, so I had an excuse to be in the pits with him, helping. In those days he was a very low-budget operation. Midway through the season, a year after that conversation at the lake, he proposed to me and I accepted.
Chad had told me that he had always felt that God wanted him to not only dedicate his racing to Jesus, but to turn it into a real ministry, and this was a passion we both shared. However, we really did not have any clue how to begin.
After our marriage in the fall of 2008 we threw ourselves headlong into trying to develop a ministry, asking God to bless our efforts and open doors. And he did! We fumbled and stumbled and didn’t know what we were doing, but God saw our hearts and brought opportunities our way.
We were truly a family ministry, with my oldest son sometimes crewing for us, and my youngest son being our series photographer and traveling with us as we raced all over the Pacific Northwest. My parents, who I never would have thought would be racing fans, became our biggest cheerleaders and traveled to nearly every race we ever ran, taking my two disabled daughters with them so they could be a part of things too, and I could be free to be with Chad in the pits.
Chad came from a racing family, and many of his relatives came to the races to cheer us on. His cousin Kenny and his brother Kirk got cars of their own and joined our ministry so for a while we had 3 cars and 3 teams. Those were fun times!
Sadly, Kirk was seriously injured in a work accident, and Kenny also had to quit racing following a serious car accident (not racing related) so it was just Chad and me again, racing in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California.
We made a lot of friends over the years, and our non-confrontational approach was well received. We were not the type to go preaching to people or handing out religious tracts, we just let people know who we represented and that we were available if anyone wanted to come and talk to us. There were many quiet, impromptu prayer sessions in the back of our hauler.
We were also involved in supporting other local ministries such as foster children’s programs and food banks. Following Chad’s death, things are obviously different…. I’m the last man standing, and can’t drive a race car, so the ministry will never again be what it was when Chad was alive. However, I feel strongly that I should not just let it go.
The Facebook page still seems to be reaching people, and we made so many friends in our years of racing, I am still welcomed when I go to the races, so I continue on. Occasionally there are opportunities to do more, such as when I was invited to go speak at the Joey Coulter 200 Charity race in Florida a few years ago.
Chad and I had only 5 1/2 years together, but it was the best years of my life and I love talking about him. He was truly amazing.
The following is directly from the website, it is the last news article Nancy wrote.
This is Nancy, Chad’s wife and co-founder of Racing For Jesus Ministries. Our ministry has undergone major changes this year. I have not had the heart to update this information until now, but I will attempt to bring everyone up to speed.
Thursday March 20th started as a very normal day. Chad put in a long day’s work at his business, Chad’s Auto Repair, stopped by his brother Kirk’s house for some rivets for the race car, and got home at about 8:30 p.m. While he ate dinner we talked about our plans for the upcoming race season, and he went to bed at about 9 p.m. Shortly after, I heard a number of loud noises coming from the bedroom and when I checked, I found Chad on the floor. It soon became apparent he had had a stroke, which came as a shock since we had no reason to be concerned about his health. He was only 50 years old, had been cancer-free for about 10 years, and had medical checks a couple times a year.
Upon arrival at the hospital an MRI was done and the staff was able to determine that the stroke was caused by scarring on Chad’s carotid artery from the radiation he had for treatment of laryngeal cancer many years ago. This was something that did not show up in his routine medical checkups and came as quite a surprise to us. Chad was transported to Tacoma General Hospital and an embolectomy was performed to remove the clot.
The surgery was a success and Chad’s prognosis looked very good. However, in the early morning hours of March 23, Chad experienced a substantial brain bleed.
Chad was critically ill and I was advised repeatedly that he probably would not survive this. However, I refused to give up on him and kept praying for his recovery. It took some time, but he gradually began to regain strength. He had lost all function on the right side of his body, though, and was extremely weak. Mentally he was unaffected and while speech was difficult, he made it clear that he was going to work hard on his recovery so he could come home.
After 10 days in the ICU he was declared medically stable and was transferred to a regular room on the post-surgical ward, where he continued to improve.
On April 4 Chad was transferred to the Inpatient Rehabilitation Center at Good Samaritan Hospital so he could obtain therapy in preparation for his homecoming. I had stayed with him all during his hospitalization, but was not allowed to stay with him during rehab. I focused my energies on preparing the house for his homecoming and I visited him at the hospital daily.
After therapy on April 7 Chad complained of pain in his right leg, and when I visited him on April 8, I found that they had placed him on bed rest for a clot in his leg. He was taken off bed rest to resume therapy the next day, however. When I had to leave the hospital on the evening of April 9, I kissed him goodbye, then went back and kissed him again. When I turned to look at him from the door, he blew me a kiss. I had no way of knowing that would be the last time I saw him alive.
On the morning of April 10, which also happened to be my birthday, I received a call from the hospital at 7:28 a.m. The nurse told me that Chad’s condition had changed and they were working on him, but that I needed to have someone drive me to the hospital immediately. I had no one to drive me and I drove myself as fast as I could. I live 45 minutes from the hospital and made the drive in 35 minutes, but I was too late; he was already gone. They told me that the clot had evidently broken loose and went to his lungs when they got him out of bed that morning, and while they worked on him for 45 minutes, they were unable to resuscitate him. He was declared dead 10 minutes before I got to the hospital.
We can rejoice that we have absolutely no doubt that Chad is now with his Savior Jesus, and that we will join him again someday when our time on earth is done. However, this was so sudden and unexpected, and we were completely unprepared for his death. It has been a crushing blow to our family. We are all really grieving and struggling to build a life without him. We would be very grateful for your ongoing prayers for us as we try to find our way.
The future of this ministry is also uncertain. Clearly, it cannot go on without him the way it did before, but it was such an important part of our life together that I am reluctant to just let it go. I am keeping it going for now, on our Facebook page and through attending some of the functions that we would have attended together. I am praying that God will open new doors, and give new direction for this ministry, so that it will remain alive even though Chad is gone. Please join me in praying for God’s will in regards to the future of Racing For Jesus Ministries.
Chad may have left this world, but, I can tell you, his ministry and his works are still here.
Nancy continually posts encouraging scripture through the Facebook page and is a source of encouragement herself. She has kept up the works God has put before her in the midst of a tragic situation. She rejoices over his current whereabouts, but mourns the empty place that was left.
I wish I could have met Chad, as, when I contacted Racing for Jesus Ministries, I had no idea of the situation, but, once I knew, I felt the need to write about him and let you see faith in action.
Chad’s death show’s us that tomorrow is not promised, I encourage you to read my article, I’m going to fix it, someday.
Also, if you would like to know more about getting to know and recieving Jesus, just as Chad did, please read Restoration.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it has blessed you as much as it has blessed me.
Below are a number of photos, please feel free to browse.
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