The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Mike Benson: The Makings of a Conqueror

By Audra Smith
The 700 Club

CBN.comMike Benson’s view of authority became distorted at a young age.

“My dad was passive aggressive,” Mike tells The 700 Club. “He’d let it all stay bottled up, then he’d explode. I think he’d take his frustrations out on me.”

As he got older, Mike grew angry, just like his father. Drugs and alcohol kept a lid on his emotions.

“It was at the age of 16,” he says. “A friend of mine and I were high on cocaine and drinking vodka all day long, and we decided that we were going to rob a bank. Right in broad daylight, we went into the bank, held up the tellers and took the money. We ran and got away.”

Hours later, the FBI and state police caught up with Mike. He was sentenced as an adult and given five years in the Michigan Department of Corrections.

“When that door shut and the key turned, it was one of the lowest points of my life. Finally, I did get parole. It was a happy day. I had all these good intentions. I had all these good desires. I was going to get a good job. I went to college.  I did everything I could to set myself up for success when I was released from prison.”

However, his criminal record kept him from getting the jobs he wanted. So, Mike’s old patterns returned.

“Time after time being rejected, it brought back those feelings,” Mike says, “and I heard the words that my father had spoke to me as a young man, ‘You’re worthless. You’re a dummy. You’re never going to amount to anything.’ So I went right back into a life of drugs and substance abuse, which was my attempt to just make the pain go away.

“I got reacquainted with the same person that we did the original bank robbery with in 1989. We started hanging out together again, and of course, we started taking crime to a whole other level.”

A car theft put Mike and his partner on the run from the police. They began to rob their way through Michigan, Kentucky, and Indiana. In October 1996, a gas station robbery put the police hot on Mike’s trail.

“I tell people this is America’s dumbest criminal story. This particular gas station was directly across from the Boone County Jail and Sherriff’s Department, and two blocks down from the State Police headquarters.” 

After a dramatic high speed chase through Indiana, Mike eluded the police. His partner abandoned him, but Mike made it to all the way to Florida. He was busy setting up a new life under a false identity when a Florida cop brought his plans to a screeching halt

“An officer there was doing a routine stop, but something wasn’t sitting right with him. So he said, ‘I think we’re going to run you in and check your prints.’ I knew when I got to Sarasota I was never going to see freedom again.”

Mike was arrested for three auto theft charges, kidnapping, parole violation and armed robbery. Mike first went Indiana to face his charges.

“I went into cell block A in cell block 12. I could look out the window and literally see the Shell gas station that I robbed. I became very angry, and I didn’t want to have that kind of life and the hopelessness set in. It really was the first time I considered taking my own life.

“I started to remember some words that a guy spoke to me back when I was doing my first five years. He said, ‘Mike, Jesus died for your sins, and God has a plan for your life and can redeem any area of your life.’ I started to yell out to Him, ‘If You’re so good, if You’ve got this great plan for my life, then how come my life is so messed up?’

“It was the first time I have ever heard God’s voice, and He said, ‘Call on Me, son. Call on Me.’ I got on my hands and knees in the jail, put my arms out and I reached out to God. I said, ‘God, I’ve ruined this life, and there is nothing I can do about it. So I’m just giving it to You. Take it. It’s Yours to do whatever You want.’

“When I got off the floor, nothing changed on the outside. Still facing all that time in prison. Still looking at never seeing freedom or my family again, but this time, something had changed on the inside and something was different. For the first time in my life, I really knew what life was and I really knew what it meant to be free.”

Mike got involved in prison worship services and Bible studies. When Mike went to court, judges saw the tangible changes in his life. Court case after court case was decided in Mike’s favor. Instead of doing life in prison like he expected, he only served six years for his crimes in both Michigan and Indiana. 

“Finally, October 31, 2002, right on Halloween, I was released from prison. I’ll never forget when I crossed the threshold of that prison. I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘I will redeem the years that the enemy and the locusts have taken from your life.’”

Shortly after prison, Mike met and soon married Stefanie, and he has two children. Today he also heads The Conquerors International Strength Team, a group of evangelists who travel the world using strength demonstrations to help present the gospel.

“I understand that I don’t know anything about life. So I submit myself to His authority, and I see it as a good thing now. It’s just knowing that His grace, His love, His sacrifice… It’s all about Him, and that is the real freedom. That’s the freedom there is in Jesus Christ.”

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