Eyes on Jesus and Flexibility - Ryan's Story

Ryan Benson, the new Worship Director at Ventura Missionary Church, started his new position on Monday, March 16th- right in the middle of global concern over the COVID-19 outbreak and many unknowns. We connected with Ryan to hear a little bit about what’s it like to start a new position in chaotic times and what God’s teaching him personally during this unique time in history. 
Ryan, what did you expect your first day on staff to be like and how did it actually go? 
When I stepped into this new position, I had already anticipated adjusting to a new work environment. What I didn’t expect was the Coronavirus and the mandatory quarantines that came along with it. However, my previous job was fast-paced and filled with uncertainties, so I’m glad God had prepared me there for what I am doing now. 
Sunday, March 22nd was your first time leading worship in your new role. How did you expect that to go, and how did it play out in reality?
Last Sunday, we planned on doing a full band on the livestream service and had even rehearsed on the Thursday evening prior. By the time rehearsal wrapped, though, the California governor had ordered everyone to shelter-in-place. To honor the legislation, we made the decision to condense the band to just me and my guitar. 
I heard you wrote a song that was part of last Sunday’s service. What was the inspiration for the song? 
The song I composed was based on Pastor Doug’s sermon series, Fix Your Eyes on Jesus. It incorporates a classic hymn that many in our congregation know. I pray the song is a reminder to people that in the highs and lows of life, Jesus never changes. He remains our never-changing constant amidst a world of variables.
Tell us about your writing process when crafting an original song.
My songwriting process usually begins with a Biblical idea in the form of a word or phrase. Once I have this starting point, I spend time thinking of a catchy melody that is memorable while attempting to marry it to a set of words. Completing a song can take me from a few days to a few months! I’ve had some moments of inspiration in which the Holy Spirit “downloads” melodies and words in an hour or two. But, this has only happened a few times.  
Have you written other songs?  
Yes! Songwriting has been a passion of mine for a while now. I’ve written songs anywhere from middle school snack bar marketing jingles to ones that journal my developing relationship with Jesus throughout the years. 
How does God speak to you the most often?
One of the primary ways God speaks to me is through the Bible. My love for His Word has grown tremendously as I’ve encountered Him through my reading of Scripture. He also speaks to me through nature and through impressions I get as I consider Him throughout the day. 
What role does music play in your spiritual life? 
Music is special to me because it touches every aspect of my body, soul, and spirit; all at the same time. It’s truly a gift from God that helps me engage and connect with Him. Music helps me express the rawness of who I am to the Lord; it’s a vehicle in which I can be completely honest before Him.  
What’s been your biggest personal take away over the last two weeks of navigating life in the times of the Coronavirus?
My biggest personal takeaway from this situation is the realization that a daily commitment to Bible reading and prayer is essential to being effective and impactful. If I’m not in the Word and in prayer, I can see how easy it can be for me to live life in fear and anxiety. Staying close to God helps keep my soul at peace and my mind at ease. 
What is God currently teaching you? 
God is teaching me the importance of prayer right now. In fact, Scripture deems it imperative to our effectiveness as Christians! Even though God knows every need we have (Matt. 6:32), He still desires that we give Him our petitions. I’m challenged in this season of life to pray even more… I don’t want to miss out on blessings because I did not pray. 
Leading worship via livestream is a new experience for me. My goal is to give God my best.
Is there anything else on your heart that you’d like to share?
I want to thank everyone for warmly welcoming me into the Ventura Missionary family!

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