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An instrument of hope: The Darryn J. Benjamin Foundation

Darryn J. Benjamin lay on his hospital bed, hooked up to medical equipment and surrounded by various machines. His mother walked in the room and gave him a letter with an Oral Roberts University symbol on it. Excitedly, he informed his family he had been re-admitted to ORU. Later that day, Darryn passed from complications from a brain tumor.

Darryn J. Benjamin attended ORU in 2012 and completed three semesters before he had to de-enroll due to medical complications. He was a drummer for ORU LIVE and made it on the team as a freshman, a very unusual feat according to his father John Benjamin.

“He started off when he was three, four years old.  He would play a full drum kit,” Benjamin recalls.

Throughout his life, music and ORU would be two very big influences. He attended ORU basketball games as a child and used two pencils to drum on the seats to the beat of the pep rally music. He even practiced the song, “My Redeemer Lives,” with Hillsong once at the ORU Mabee Center. He also played drums for the Victory children’s, “Bus Ministry,” where the children who knew him would say, “I want to play like Darryn.” He never missed a Saturday. According to John Benjamin, these memories of Darryn are some of the reasons behind the Darryn J. Benjamin Foundation’s mission.

The Darryn J. Benjamin Foundation is a non-profit organization assisting children and young adults between the ages of four and 25 by offering grants, scholarships, music lessons and especially musical instruments. 

“Our goal is to take kids and transform their lives through this ministry, through this vision,” says Benjamin.

The ages the foundation assists is not random. Four is the age Darryn began playing the drums, and 25 is the age he passed away.

The Foundation’s specialty is giving out musical instruments. An ORU student and musician who plays for a children’s ministry at Victory applied to the foundation and wrote a story explaining that her guitar was broken. 

“That touched our hearts,” stated Benjamin, and ORU was thus added to the list of places they would bless with instrument donations.

The first instrument the foundation gave away was a drum set to a child in north Tulsa on Thanksgiving of 2019. Today, that child plays the drums for a church there, stated Benjamin. Since then, they have given guitars, keyboards and more drum sets to other children last Christmas and to Victory Christian School this August. The foundation offers grants for musicians that can be applied for through the Darryn J. Benjamin Foundation website.

“When they teach them how to play these instruments, they are also going to impart the word of God into them, so it’s going to be a packaged deal so they get ministry throughout this process,” stated Benjamin. “It’s about taking them out of the pot houses and into the Potter’s house.”

The foundation offers grants and would eventually like to expand to assisting college students who need extra financial help in order to finish. 

“Darryn always wanted to finish college, right? So we want to help these students who are struggling financially,” stated Benjamin. ORU has always been a large part of the Benjamin family’s lives. John Benjamin attended ORU in 1985 and since then all three of his children have attended as well. 

“ORU is in our DNA,” laughed Benjamin.

Beause of the gratitude and deep connection the family feels towards ORU, the foundation chose Sarah Joseph, an ORU Freshman, to recieve a new guitar. On Thursday, Sept 3, they surprised her in the prayer tower and handed over the guitar. The Benjamin family says they excited to see how she will use it to grow her gift.

“Maybe she can use it for hall meetings,” again laughed Benjamin.

“Receiving the guitar from the Darryn J Benjamin Foundation was an absolute honor. Darryn left such an amazing legacy, and the seeds he sowed through his worship and Christ-like lifestyle are reaping a harvest still today in lives like mine,” said Joseph.

Benjamin also mentioned possibly in the future wanting to partner with ORU Missions to give instruments to children who need them.

“We don’t want to stop there. We want to continue to bless ORU students. We’ll see where the need is.” stated Benjamin. “So, we want to take this vision back to India, Africa and Brazil, some of these countries that Darryn had a heart for,” stated Benjamin.

The main reason the Darryn J. Benjamin foundation was created was to “keep Darryn’s legacy alive,” according to his father. Darryn loved to serve, loved music and children and loved keeping things positive by giving everyone “a double thumbs up.” Today, the foundation strives to continue the work Darryn had begun—saving children through music.

The Sunday after Darryn passed, John Benjamin sat on his son’s bed thinking about how he was supposed to come home, thinking of the house they had built for him, taking comfort in the image of Darryn in his mansion in heaven. The words “what did Darryn love to do?” crossed his mind along with the answer: “Serve in church. Serve with children.” The Darryn J. Benjamin Foundation was thus created.