The Darryn J Benjamin Foundation

The Man Behind the Mission: The Darryn J Benjamin Foundation

Alexa Mostrom, Editor in Chief

Originally Published Fall 2020

 

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 ORU symbol on it. Excitedly, he informed his family he had been re-admitted. Later that day, Darryn passed.

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 would attend ORU basketball games as a child and use two pencils to drum on the seats to the beat of the pep rally music, and 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, had 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 foundation began by giving instruments. 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.

The foundation is also teaming up with Christian music instructors to offer music lessons or voice lessons to children who need them.

“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.

Because of the family’s and Darryn’s deep connection to ORU along with the students testimony, on Thursday, September 3, the Darryn J. Benjamin foundation gave a new guitar to an ORU student. Surprising her with the guitar in the prayer tower, the Benjamin family is excited to see how she will use it to grow her gift.

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

Their son’s love for the school and ministry is one of the reasons the Benjamin’s have a connection to the school. 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. Darryn would say, ‘I want to go back to ORU.’” stated Benjamin.

The foundation would eventually like to expand their mission past the US.

“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.” And so, the Darryn J. Benjamin Foundation was created.