Loving My Friend And Brother, Richard Bennett

Monday, June 9, 2014

There is a verse in Proverbs that states: “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”    

This last Saturday I woke up to a headline that startled and saddened me greatly.  My friend, Richard Bennett, had been arrested by the police.  As I read the news report, the first words out of my mouth and that of my wife's were “Oh No! This cannot be!” 

You see, I have personally known Richard for several years, not just as another acquaintance but rather as a close friend and brother in Christ.  Richard is someone with whom I have laughed, cried, prayed and shared deep spiritual moments.  There is seldom a time that I meet with Richard, which oftentimes is weekly, that I do not share an embrace with this "man’s man" and we walk away as stronger men and the cares of life seem a little lighter.  His wife and children have broken bread with our family in our home.

I have had the privilege of witnessing Richard’s passion and heart for dozens and dozens of young men and women in our community that most have written off.  I’ve attended the program Richard leads at Washington Alternative school where kids who others gave up on are being reached by “Mr. Bennett” as the kids call him.  Richard's tough love returns esteem and respect from many of these kids who look to him as the father they've never had.  I suppose it’s easier to understand these kids' struggles and their tendency towards trouble when you’ve been there yourself.  And Richard has been there, growing up as a troubled kid and young adult who followed the path of so many of his inner-city peers, and paid dearly for it, bearing both the emotional and physical scars that speak to his tough past.  

Yet the path of personal and eternal destruction upon which Richard found himself was forever changed when God reached out to him and transformed his life through a personal relationship with Christ.  I’ve seen Richard up close and personal for several years now and can attest to the walk that Richard has with Christ. At the same time, as a fellow believer, I do realize that all of us face struggles and temptations in our lives.  And I know that at times we fail our God, our families and ourselves.  I do not say this to suggest that what has been reported is true for I understand there is another side to this story that differs from the one filed in the police report and reported in the media.

That said though, I do not offer this piece in order to directly weigh in on the charges being made about Richard but rather to share my personal experience with my friend and something I am learning through this process.  

Too often many of us (myself included) accept as "gospel" truth whatever we read in the news or hear reported on T.V.  Invariably though there are two sides to every story. When an arrest is made and a news report is filed about the incident seldom is the other side heard, or if it is, little to no credence is given to it.  Furthermore, we forget that an arrest is not a conviction. Thankfully our founders had the wisdom to base our justice system on the concept of "innocent until proven guilty."

There will be much more to come on this story.  And time will affirm the truth of the matter.  From a personal standpoint I hope that the facts reported are not accurate.  But regardless of the truth, I know that Richard is a good man and he needs our love and prayers.  And it's why I believe that "a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."   

In closing, I have a personal message for Richard:

Richard, my friend, as you face this adversity, know that I love you and I'm here as your brother to walk with you through this difficult time.  You, Jessica and your family are in our prayers and we know that God is near you and will sustain you as you continue to lean on Him. 

Mark D. West
?Ooltewah


Hazardous Pay For Teachers

 I used the title of my message for attention to the plight of the classroom teacher. I meant not that teachers deserve more pay but using the word hazardous duty pay applies to what does not happen in the classrooms across the country.   At the beginning of the school year and a new class sometimes the teacher already knows a few of the students. Sometimes ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Every week I get emails full of inspiration and funny stories. This summer I have gathered a sampling of my weekly harvest and presented the collection as a reminder we ought to cherish laughter with those we love and the weekend. I am not only amazed how popular my ‘Summer Saturdays’ have become but this week I have gotten funnies from California, Texas and Arizona, to mention ... (click for more)

Fire Causes #32,000 In Damage To Ooltewah Home

Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) battled a house fire at 4137 E. Freemond Circle (Ooltewah) early Saturday afternoon. At  12:52 p.m. , a 911 call was made reporting a fire in the basement of her home. Tri-Community VFD responded and arrived on the scene reporting heavy smoke coming from the basement of the home. Firefighters worked quickly to contained ... (click for more)

Fire On Rogers Road Temporarily Leaves 2 Families Homeless

An early morning duplex fire left two Chattanooga families temporarily homeless.   The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at  3:01 a.m. on Saturday  and responded to 4513 Rogers Road with five fire companies. Battalion Chief Rick Boatwright said the first arriving firefighters located the fire in the kitchen of the "A" side of the duplex. ... (click for more)

Thompson, Bell Win Scenic City Scorcher Race

Saturday was another record-breaking day for runners in Chattanooga and we aren’t talking about the heat and humidity. It was the third-annual Scenic City Scorcher two-mile race held in flat and fast Heritage Landing where 48 of the 120 participants broke a Tennessee state record for their particular age. Christian Thompson was the overall winner for the second-straight year ... (click for more)

Complete Results From 2017 Scenic City Scorcher

**** OVERALL FEMALE **** Place Name                     Ag Div   Hometown             Guntime Pace      ===== ======================== == ===== ==================== ======= ===== ... (click for more)