August 11, 2012

Honoring Benny’s 70 Years as a Church Organist



Co-written by his daughter Lena

My apologies for the changing of this post. In error I posted it on the 10th instead of the 11th, and had to remove it. I didn’t know that in changing the date on the post it would make the notifications not work—first because it was removed, second because the date change. Please bear with this third, and perhaps more successful, posting.   Carolyn Cornell Holland

Multiple shades of early summer greens, painted against a blue sky accented by fluffy white clouds, marked the day that I noticed an older (back then I was not old, but anyone with white hair was) gentleman looking at our church. I greeted the soft-spoken man who introduced himself as Benny and told me he had traveled to the United States from Amman, Jordan. He was visiting his daughter Lena, who lived in a nearby housing subdivision with her husband, Mufeed, who was from Cairo, Egypt. They had two sons: Michael, age eight and Ramsey, three.

Benny was looking for a church to attend during his time in the United States. Our church membership grew by four—and to five at the times Benny was visiting.

It didn’t take me long to learn of Benny’s love for family, church, and music.

 What can I say about a father who provided a home that was filled with music. We sang hymns and listened to the words of the latest hymn that was just composed or translated.

Christmas time was the unforgettable time, a time filled with caroling. I will never forget the times when family members and friends came to our house, where everyone had a great time visiting over a Christmas meal followed by singing carols as my Dad played the organ.

These memories that will always bring a great big smile to our faces.

Benny passed his music tradition down to Lena’s son Michael in
spite of the challenge of living across the ocean from them. A piano teacher, he not only sent grandson Michael piano lessons by mail—he also sent him blank music pages so he can practice or write his own music. 🙂 Michael expressed his appreciation in a recent phone call, where he reminded his grandfather about those lessons.

Benny is a man with a tried and tested faith. He is a Dad who devoted his life to the Lord and His service. His example passed that passion on to his four children, each of which built Christian homes. All his grand-kids are young people devoted to the Lord.

It didn’t take me long to discover that Benny traveled with a special bag that held a treasure—his piano tuning tools.

Opportunist that I am, I soon had Benny tuning the pianos in the church—and the one in the parsonage. He would do this on each visit he made to his daughter’s home.

Our friendship with Benny, Mufeed, Lena and their sons grew through the years. It was truly heartbreaking when they moved south, far south, from Western Pennsylvania, to Jacksonville, Florida. With that move went our annual visits with Benny. And we lost our annual piano tune-up.

Benny did other things while visiting his daughter. One extraordinary event he participated in was Hands Across America.

The objective of Hands Across America was to implant iii each of us the idea that “I’m somebody who can take action,” and that a power will be created that nothing can hold down… Millions of Americans from one coast to the other joined hands, an unbroken chain of human beings united in energy and spirit. The event raised money for needy Americans. Although we were not able to solve all prolems, there is little doubt that by joinng millions of others in a united, loving gesture we will have made a difference.*

Our family and Benny’s American family developed the kind of friendship that doesn’t need daily feeding. Lena and I may not speak for six months to a year, but when we do it’s like we just spoke yesterday. I suspect it would be the same with Benny, now 86 years old, even though I haven’t seen spoken to him for years.

I e-mailed Lena the other day to catch up on her family. Lena responded to my e-mail with a phone call. We picked up where we left off the last time we talked.

Lena told me that The Church of the Redeemer is honoring Benny’s years of music service at the church. He began serving as an organist when he was seventeen, almost seventy years ago.

But Benny’s role that Lena remembers most is his role as a father: What can I say about a father who is always there for his family, kind, loving, all he did is to make sure his family was fine.

Lena sends loving words to her father, words that traveled across the planet from Florida to Amman to be read today: We love you Baba and honor you because you are an honorable man that always took care of your family and we will never forget all your efforts and love to make sure that we’re always taken care of.

My older son is honored to carry your name, Michael Benny. He is just like his “Grand-Dad” as he calls you, Sedo Benny, and he is so proud of that. He always serves the Lord with his voice at church and wherever else the Lord leads him.

What more of a legacy does anyone need…A family dedicated to the Lord and His service…My prayer to this most wonderful man of God “my Dad” is that the Lord that you serve will continue to keep you in the Palm of His blessed Hands.

God bless you & Mama for always being there for all of us. You’re always in our prayers as we know we’re in yours.

In Jesus’ Loving care,

With all my love & prayers,

Lena, also, Mufeed, Michael Benny, Ramsey & Heidi



Hands Across America: 25th Anniversary:

The Humming Bird Said: I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

My Mother’s Special 90th Birthday Gift




*One person can make a difference, Undated column (likely published immediately after the event) by Leo F. Buscaglia, New York Times Syndicate


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