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The 700 Club

The Rebellion Against Hopelessness

BEN’S STORY
Ben gave his first message when he was in third grade, started a Bible study at age 16, and became a full-time pastor his senior year of high school. He was an optimistic person who was voted student body president, won the homecoming crown, and was a star basketball player. But things changed in the middle of his senior year when he came face to face with depression. He says, “I can’t even tell you exactly what went wrong or what chain of events led me to this dark place.” His optimism went down the drain and hopelessness set into his mindset. He became a loner during this time and even toyed with the idea of suicide, his faith in God began to disappear, and Christianity began to seem fake to him. He would give sermons telling people how to find peace and joy with God, but inside he felt empty. The harder he tried the more he became depressed. He thought about death a lot.  Things turned around for him when he discovered a group of friends he refers to as his Squad of Optimisfits (a nonconformist, an adventurer, a person who lives with wild abandon, childlike wonder, and unapologetic optimism). He found himself surrounded by these people who helped him go from loneliness to the joy of real friendship. Together they embrace a different kind of optimism. “We aim to transcend the churchy optimism that is out in the weeds, as well as the atheistic pessimism that leaves everyone in the dumps, by acting with a fearless hopefulness.” Walking with God and the Squad has been Ben’s secret to happiness and a meaningful life. Too many people today try to deal with loneliness by popping pills to be happy, checking their social media accounts to see if they matter or watch too much television. When you pursue life with others you can have a better life.

IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER
Ben says he does some of his best praying when he is walking through the city at night. He talks to God about the people he loves as well as the ones who really annoy him. Research shows that few things are as good for your brain as the regular practice of prayer because:

  • It helps you feel closer to God
  • Fires the frontal lobe of the brain
  • Engages your highest intellectual capabilities - prayer actually makes you smarter.

NOURISH YOUR INNER REBEL
When Ben was a teenager he shared some big dreams he had for his life with friends and family. He dreamed about one day having a TV and radio program that would be seen around the world. Ben even planned to write a book. “I had a vision about how God could use me to give hope to the world, especially to those who were struggling and confused and just plain tired of it all,” shares Ben. Some people would rebuke him for having such big dreams and others would not know what to say to him. His dreams did not fit into an ordinary life. So, he took hold of his dreams and put in the hard work to make them come true. Eventually, his dreams did come true. Three years ago, he started Hope Generation which has a TV and radio program which can be seen on 12 networks and in 180 countries. Ben says, “When you have the courage to pursue your own dream you are probably going to look like a misfit to the people around you. But really, who cares?”

Today Ben shares the message God has put on his heart, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) Ben shares his message of hope 10 times each week through various media forms. He travels the world from Oregon to Africa reaching tens of thousands of people.

Personally, Ben has experienced several heartbreaks. In February his brother, Peter-John, died from colon cancer. Peter-John was a teaching pastor at Applegate Fellowship Church who had been through many serious health battles prior to his cancer diagnosis which included a 20-year battle with Crohn’s disease and multiple brain abscesses. Ben also lost a sister in 1994 when she died in a car wreck.  

OPTIMISFITS
Optimisfit is a nonconformist, an adventurer, a person who lives with wild abandon, childlike wonder, and unapologetic optimism. “We can be a catalyst for a hope-filled, no hopeless generation,” shares Ben. “Our lives can be extreme examples for Christ by exemplifying psychological tenacity, mental fortitude, spiritual maturity and child-like faith.” Throughout history there have been many optimisfits. Ben shares a two people he considers to be Hall of Fame Optimisfits: (1) George MacDonald – when the leaders of organized religion took away his pulpit he used the pages of books to share his thoughts and love for God. This 19th century British writer penned books for adults, but his greatest books were for children. His fantasy stories helped people understand that what God offered was magnificent, and that we must receive it with a heart of childlike wonder. He was C.S. Lewis’ favorite writer. (2) Billy Graham – He shared the Good News with millions. His message was simple and passionate. He never criticized those who believed differently than he did. He refused to allow his crusades to be segregated and refused to pay attention to squabbles between the different denominations. Some criticized him harshly but he was a man of conviction. He gave his all for the gospel, had an amazing work ethic and remained focused on his mission.

Ben says an optimisfit will possess an extreme and contagious optimism and pursue God’s greatest blessings even during life’s darkest moments. He offers the following perspectives:

  • Failure – Failure is a part of life. When we reach the end of ourselves we can find a new beginning with God. Your breakdown can be someone else’s breakthrough.
  • Strength – Love your enemies and naysayers. Your haters should be your motivators. Jesus’ love for His enemies made them rethink their actions.
  • Dreams – Combine big dreams and hard work and you have the key to make things happen.
  • A Squad – God wants our life to be memorable. Finding a squad involves risk, vulnerability, and putting your fear of being known aside to embark on a friendventure.

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Guest Info

Guests
Credits

Author, Optimisfits: Igniting a Fierce Rebellion Against Hopelessness (Harvest House, 2019)

Founder of Hope Generation, has a global TV (airs in 180 countries around the world) and radio program

Speaker/Pastor based out of Applegate Christian Fellowship

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