#32 Whatever the Cost - The Benham Brothers | Compelled Podcast

#32 Whatever the Cost – The Benham Brothers

Jason and David Benham (a.k.a The Benham Brothers) share the remarkable story of growing up as identical twins, becoming professional baseball players, and working today as successful real estate entrepreneurs.

But everything took a twist when they were told their national reality TV show would be canceled unless they renounced their beliefs in the Bible.


The following is a summary of the podcast interview above. Many more details are included in the original podcast episode and we encourage you to listen.

Written by Jace Bower

The Expected Call

The phone rang.

David and Jason Benham had been expecting the call. And God had been preparing them for the news they were about to hear. 

Their reality TV show had been canceled.

Although the Benham brothers and their families were disappointed with the news, they surged forward in what God had called them to with a zeal for faithfulness to the Lord.

The Lord had already brought them this far, and they knew this was just another turn in their journey.

Identical Twins

 David and Jason share more than a faith. They share a birthday.

The identical twins were born in 1975 to Philip and Faye Benham. They walked through life step by step together, sharpening each other.

Their father experienced God reach directly into his life while the boys were still young. Philip came to Christ, sold his saloon, and moved the family to Dallas, Texas to engage in ministry.

Starting with a house church, the Benhams began to minister and share the Gospel with their neighbors and those they came in contact with every day.

Raised in Boldness

Jason and David’s father became very active in proclaiming the Kingdom of Christ in every arena of life. When 7-Eleven began selling pornographic magazines in Dallas, he spoke out publicly and would bring his sons along.

Philip also became the National Director of Operation Rescue, one of the largest movements in the 1980s fighting to end abortion. David and Jason would watch as their father was assaulted by police officers right outside of abortion clinics. These early memories shaped David and Jason’s commitment to the narrow path.

All throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school, they realized that every day they would be forced to make a choice, just like their dad. Would they take the easy route, by turning away from God’s calling and pursuing the world’s acceptance? Or would they reject the world and pursue Christ?

Sports Prowess

Something else was developing in Jason and David during middle school: an aptitude for sports.

They played everything: football, basketball, and baseball. And they were good. Good enough to be featured in Sports Illustrated while they were in the eighth grade.

The brother’s love for sports soon narrowed into a focus on baseball during their junior year of high school. They were looking for college scholarships.

Miracle Road to Liberty

Specifically, the brothers wanted scholarships to a Christian university. Their dream school was Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia. 

In the days before social media and widespread internet access, the chances of two high school ballplayers, even those as good as the Benhams, getting the attention of a school thousands of miles away was slim.

But God already had a plan in motion during the Benham’s senior year at Garland Christian Academy in Texas that the Benham brothers had no idea about.

It just so happened that a teammate’s father had some baseball scouting experience and connections. He recognized the potential in Jason and David and asked about their school goals. The brothers confessed their desire to play at Liberty University, the dad made some connections, and Liberty University scouts flew down to Dallas to watch the brothers play.

After watching the Benhams in action, Liberty offered Jason and David full-ride scholarships to attend the college.

A Pivotal Moment on the Field

For 4 years, the Benham brothers made strides playing baseball at Liberty University, making many great friendships and memories. But one of their most memorable experiences, especially for Jason, happened a few weeks after they graduated.

It was a moment when Jason would have to make a choice whether to give God the glory or not. But the circumstances were not what you might think.

Liberty’s baseball team had won their conference tournament and they were now fighting for survival in the double-elimination tournament hosted by Florida State. The Liberty Flames were facing Auburn and the score was tied going into the ninth inning. 

If Liberty could hold Auburn in the top of the ninth and score a run in the bottom of the inning, they would live to play another day. 

With these high stakes, Jason made a crucial mistake: he let a ground ball pass straight between his legs. Auburn scored.

Jason’s chance at redemption came in the bottom of the ninth inning. The bases were loaded, there were two outs, and Jason, Liberty’s best hitter, was up to bat. 

Jason prayed for God to come through for him. The crowd waited, expecting their star hitter to win the game for them.

Instead, Jason hit a grounder to second base. Liberty got their third out and the game was over.

Praise God, Win or Lose

During the postgame press conference, reporters asked Jason about his failure. He humbly admitted, “I failed my team miserably today, but Jesus Christ is still on the throne.” He went on to explain the grace that Jesus offers and how our failures don’t keep us from the love of God.

Jason and David packed up and went home, not expecting anything else to come of the tournament or the press conference.

However, Jason’s gracious response to the loss had caught the attention of an atheist sports reporter in Tallahassee, Florida. The reporter released an article marveling that even after a loss, Jason Benham was able to praise God. 

Jason realized that his failure had been used to glorify His Father in Heaven.

Principles That Yield Fruit

Mistakes notwithstanding, Jason and David were still among the best ballplayers in college baseball at the time. They got drafted into the minor leagues – Jason was drafted by the Orioles; David by the Red Sox.

After several seasons playing minor league baseball, the Benham brothers retired from baseball and eventually found themselves in Charlotte, North Carolina – essentially broke and with young (and growing!) families.

Despite not having any business experience, they became real estate entrepreneurs, armed with the principles they had gleaned from the Bible over eight years of cover-to-cover reading.

Those principles yielded great success for the Benham’s business. Soon they had offices across the country.

A decade after leaving baseball, their business ventures were thriving and there were incredible opportunities for them in the marketplace. They could clearly see how God was using their work in the business sector to have an impact on the kingdom.

But then out of nowhere, they received an opportunity that would ultimately force them to make yet another choice between God’s Kingdom or the World’s.

An Unexpected Opportunity

In 2012, the Benhams were approached by television producers to create a reality TV sizzle clip that would be sent to studio executives in Los Angeles. This led to an offer from the TLC network for the Benham’s own reality TV show. Negotiations began.

During the negotiations with TLC, another network called. HGTV also wanted the Benhams on their network.

HGTV offered Jason, David, and their families a ton of money to start a show on their network. Everything was running along smoothly until the Benham’s background checks revealed several instances of public support for Biblical family values, including God’s design for marriage between one man and one woman.

A Critical Test

The network wanted to know: were the Benhams “anti-gay”?

The Benham brothers explained that they were not anti-gay, but instead were “pro-Jesus”. They believed in God’s design for marriage and life as explained in His Word, but this didn’t mean that they were antagonistic towards any group of people.

After that conversation with the network came two weeks of silence.

Concerned that they might be losing the show, Jason and David sat down and drafted an email with a compromise: they wouldn’t express their values publicly on the show but would rather keep them in their private life.

They privately reasoned it was more important to have the exposure and outreach opportunity that a national reality TV show would give them.

But before sending the email to the network, the brothers sent a copy to a trusted mentor. He rebuked them for their willingness to compromise their faith to earn human approval. Jason and David took his counsel to heart and never sent the email to HGTV.

More Twists and Turns

Eventually, the network called back, and the show was back on! Mid-way through the filming process though, the Benhams got another call from HGTV.

A homosexual activist group, GLAAD, was upset about the Benham’s show. Particularly, they resented the brothers’ stance on marriage. HGTV initially stood their ground and told the Benhams they would still proceed with the show, but Jason and David knew that GLAAD wouldn’t back away so easily.

Sure enough, the activist group kept pressing. They even allied with another group, Right Wing Watch, to write a story smearing the Benham brothers and painting an ugly, untrue picture of how they treated others.

Jason and David braced for the call. It came from HGTV within a week of GLAAD’s first assault. 

The network had canceled their show.

An Opportunity, Not a Loss

Despite the disappointment, Jason and David stood firm. They knew that now was the time to stand on the word of God boldly. God had broken them and swept away their dreams, but He had repeatedly proven himself faithful over the years.

Instead of bowing to the world’s pressure, they embraced the opportunity to share why they wouldn’t change their minds – because they served a God bigger than current societal norms or whims. Their God was so big that he had created a design for marriage, and even all life, from the very beginning of time. And it was their privilege to honor their God through the choices they made, no matter the cost.

Bold and Broken

The Benham brothers have a great testimony of being bold in the face of adversity. They didn’t cave into popular opinion but instead stood on the Word of God and proclaimed His truth. Even when it meant that their dreams would be destroyed.

Jason put it so well when he explained that being broken and having your dreams taken away actually can free you to follow the will of God. For the Benham brothers, they had to let go of their dream of playing in Major League Baseball or having a national reality TV show. But the freedom that they found was so much sweeter.

Jason and David’s testimony is encouraging and convicting. It teaches us to hold our plans with an open hand and ask God to help us follow his plans instead.  When it feels that our dreams have been crushed, all we need to do is rest and know that God has the very best for us no matter how confusing it may seem.

God simply asks us to make a choice – to trust and follow him.

———-
Jace Bower is a writer with a passion for justice and biblical principles. He writes at jacebower.com.


Book Giveaway

Win an autographed copy of David and Jason Benham’s book, Whatever the Cost.

Note: Winner must live within the United States.

Whatever the Cost by David and Jason Benham

Show Notes

Jason and David’s websites:

Jason and David’s books:

Jason and David’s podcasts and broadcasts:

Images

The Benham Brothers in Sports Illustrated May 7, 1990 - Faces in the Crowd
The Benham Brothers in Sports Illustrated May 7, 1990 – Faces in the Crowd
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Tallahassee Democrat - May 26, 1998 - Jason Benham still gives God glory after losing biggest game of college baseball career
Tallahassee Democrat – May 26, 1998 – Jason Benham still gives God the glory after losing the biggest game of his college baseball career
(Click to enlarge)
The Benham Brothers
(Click to enlarge)
The Benham Brothers
(Click to enlarge)

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