Hi, I’m Ben Stimpson. Thanks for checking out my blog.
I was born in Green Bay in 1980. Although I grew up going to church, God was never big on my list of pursuits, and it wasn’t long before I began to believe he was nothing more than something Christians made up. By the time I graduated high school, I was calling myself an atheist. (Though, in reality, I was more an agnostic. I figured, if God was real, then he wasn’t bothering me, and I wouldn’t bother him.)
When I graduated, I was also addicted to pornography, struggling with depression, and deeply bitter towards my dad. You don’t need to know the details, but when I went to UW-Madison, I was looking forward to three things more than anything else: (1) never going to church again, (2) never seeing my dad again, and (3) no longer needing to hide my addiction.
Gratefully, Jesus got my attention!
My first week in college, my best friend whom I hadn’t seen in years calls me up. He asks if I would go with him on Sunday to help him find a church. I’m still not sure why I told him “yes.”
To make a long story short, it was there at the church service where I suddenly began to question whether I really could say that God was not real. How did I know this? Was I willing to risk my eternal state on this conviction? What if I was wrong?
The answer to the last question scared me. If I was wrong, then I was screwed.
After about a month of dealing with this nagging fear in my heart, I decided I needed to settle things. So I sat down with my journal and wrote out an entry explaining why I believed God was not real and why I didn’t have to obey him even if he was real. Surely that would settle things.
I wrote about four pages, reached the end of my arguments, and the nagging fear was still there. What if I was wrong?
So I surrendered. There in room 210 in Witte-A at UW-Madison, I quit running. And that was the moment when everything changed in my life.
Immediately, a peace settled over my heart like I had never felt before. The shame and guilt seemed to viscerally lift off my shoulders. The tension I had known all through my childhood was suddenly gone. It was all so tangible that I knew something real had happened.
Since that day, Jesus freed me from the porn addiction, healed my relationship with my dad, gave me a love for him like I had never thought possible. And, best of all, he wiped away my sin and made me acceptable to God. And, let me tell you, it is so good.
What I had tried to do but could not, Jesus did for me.
I spent the first 6 years of my walk with God reaching out on the UW-Madison campus, doing everything from open-air preaching to running a coffee shop all while taking classes at Solid Rock Ministry Training School and UW-Madison.
I threw myself into learning all I could about Jesus and doing all I could for him.
In 2004, I went on staff with Cornerstone-Madison, a church focused on reaching the campus with the gospel of Jesus.
Shortly thereafter, though, God called me to join Derek Miller in the small town of Spring Green. In 2005, I began to work there as the youth director at Cornerstone Church of Spring Green.
Although the times of ministry have been powerful here, what God most did through those nearly 8 years was cement my heart in his. I came here viewing God as my King for whom I would work the rest of my life. But I leave now viewing him also as my Bridegroom who loves me and whom I love more than anything else. I learned here the pleasure of long times in the presence of God and the joy of prayer.
Over the last few years, God has been putting in my heart a desire to bring the gospel to the mission field. In the summer of 2011, he opened a door to work in Romania and made it clear that I was to walk through it.
And that brings me to where I am now, living in a city that’s both very religious and very uninterested in God, reaching out to gypsy families and college students, and really just learning.
Our hope is to see a church established here that’s building into people’s lives, a church that’s seeing people delivered from the darkness of sin and brought into the glorious light of the love and freedom of Jesus, a church that’s not built around four walls but that’s built around people, a church that’s courageous and bold with the gospel but also tender and loving towards the sinner, a church that hungers and thirst after Jesus more than anything else.
But right now, we’re mainly doing a whole lot of learning.