“For God so loved the whole wide world/Sent His only Son to die for me/Arms spread wide for the whole wide world/His arms spread wide where mine should be/Jesus changed my destiny” (Red Letters by David Crowder).
This song is the anthem of Dwight Bennett’s life. Anyone who has the pleasure of knowing Dwight can easily recognize the pure joy and love that radiates from him and knows that his heart is in sharing the love of God with everyone he encounters.
“In the last 20 years, I’ve realized how important it is to live for God every day as a Christian,” stated Dwight. “That’s my goal: to try and live more like Christ every day.”
His faith in God has helped him and his wife, Louann, make it through some very trying times in life. The couple has been married for 50 years now, and their love has only grown over time. They have three sons that they love, and Dwight can recall all the things they have gone through since starting their family and how God has blessed and helped them through everything.
“Our oldest son, Britt, had to have hernia surgery when he was three months old. That was dramatic for us with a three month old baby. Then later on when he was an adult, his intestines had twisted, and we had to take him to the hospital for surgery,” recalled Dwight. “Our middle son had acute submucous cleft palate. He was only the second child in Mississippi to have the surgery. He couldn’t say certain letters, and they did the surgery and put a stitch in his tongue and taped it to the side of his mouth. The next day, they removed the stitch, and he could say anything you wanted him to say, so it was a miracle. We’ve been through a lot of things, but God has always walked with us.”
Different events with his children isn’t the only times that Dwight has recognized God’s hand in his life. He had an experience within a few years of being married that could have killed him, but he was still able to overcome it.
“I got shot with buckshot the third year we were married and in college,” remembered Dwight. “One missed my femoral artery by what the doctor described as the thickness of a cigarette paper. My dad and I had been hunting some hogs that were coming up and eating corn my uncle had planted. I was being very careless and went right through a briar thicket. My dad went around the other side. I shot and killed two hogs, and he shot at the third one and hit me. I just happened to be in the line of fire, so five of the buckshot went through me.”
Dwight loves his family and does everything he can to provide for them and set an example for them to follow. In fact, one of the examples that he has always set is a trait that his own father instilled in him growing up: a strong work ethic.
“My dad taught me, if only one thing, work hard and do it right,” said Dwight.
He has always worked hard. In fact, for six years, Dwight taught and coached in Quitman and helped start up some programs that it is hard to imagine not having today.
“I taught at the junior high for four years. I started in 1973 and taught P.E. and coached. I started the first junior high football program at Quitman,” explained Dwight. “I started the eighth grade program the first year I was here. I would go to the high school every afternoon to watch what plays they ran and how they blocked. I tried to make it a feeder program so that when they got to the ninth grade, they already knew the plays. Then, I went to the high school as the head basketball coach, assistant football defensive back coach, and assistant baseball coach. That last year there I was coaching three sports, teaching three classes of general science and a P.E. class, and had one off period that I was coaching during.”
Although he did love his time at the school and coaching, Dwight loved his family even more and decided that it was more important to be there for his family. That helped him make his decision to leave teaching and coaching.
“I got out of coaching because my middle son was already born, and we’d just found out we were expecting a third son,” stated Dwight. “Louann had a dada book that she would show Heath every day so that he would know his dad because I was gone so much every day coaching; I was gone when he woke up and was still gone when he went to bed. I would see him awake sometimes for a week. I was at the school too much and wasn’t seeing my children.”
Still the hard worker, Dwight found a new career that would allow him to both provide for his family and be able to spend more time with his children.
“I took the post office test and got on at the post office in 1979,” recalled Dwight. “It was a good move for me because I was able to coach my boys in summer baseball. I was able to take them fishing when I got home or go out and play ball with them if they wanted.”
He stayed at the post office for 30 years and was loved by everyone along his route. His kind, giving spirit allowed him to do more than simply deliver the mail. He would also help, pray for, and even witness to those he came in contact with each day.
Although he retired from the post office in March of 2009, Dwight has never really stopped working. He is very involved in his church, First Baptist Church in Quitman.
“I am chairman of the properties committee and the deacon ministry coordinator,” said Dwight. “I am usually at the church working on something at least two or three days a week. I also teach the College and Career Sunday School class.”
Working on the property and teaching aren’t the only ways that Dwight is involved in the church. Over the years, he has gone on multiple mission trips to Honduras with the church. It is on those mission trips that he has been able to do what he loves the most: share Christ with others. He has also been able to witness miracles while doing mission work.
“A friend of ours, Stan Nowell, started a ministry called Forgotten Children’s Ministry taking care of all these kids who are living in the streets. They have a girls and boys home that we help with,” explained Dwight. “We also go down and do food ministry. Honduras is full of extreme poverty, and a lot of people just live in these makeshift shanties. We go through the country on a yellow bus and will get off and walk through the streets. We would go to the dump on the mountain; there are people who live in the dump and will gather stuff there to sell just to try and have enough money to get food each day. We would go and feed people at the dump, and people would come off the mountain and out of the dump from all around just to get food. One of those times, we had fixed enough food for 200 people, and we fed around 400 people. Nobody went hungry, and some even came back for seconds. In the bible we read about Jesus feeding the 5000, but I’ve seen him feed 400 with food meant for 200. My wife said it’s like the food just wouldn’t run out. There were also some nights that we would sack up rice and beans in bags and put them in backpacks. Then, we would walk around the small villages handing out rice and beans so they could have something to eat. We witness along the way as we are doing all of that.”
When Dwight is not working with the church or simply witnessing everywhere he goes, he is most likely home doing something else that he enjoys: woodworking.
“One of my favorite hobbies is building things. I like to work in my shop and build things to give people,” said Dwight. “I’ve built things for each daughter-in-law: dining tables, china cabinets, and picture frames. I’ve built unity crosses for some couples’ weddings. I’d always wanted to do woodworking from the time I was young. I started by making wooden trash cans and would sell them. When we built our house, I built my shop with a lean-to so I could have a place to work. I’ve built up all my tools for woodwork over the years.”
No matter what, Dwight’s life shines with a light that is refreshing for those around him to witness. His genuine love for those around him can be summarized by his own advice that he has always shared with his own children.
“Treat people like people,” advised Dwight. “I’ve always told my sons that it’s not what happens to you in life—it’s what you do about it and who you take it to. It’s not about what you know; it’s who you know.”