The Benwerren Story
by Douglas Kirk McDonald
When God called Olive and Howard McDonald to birth a women’s ministry called Benwerren, beginning in 1951, they heeded the call. While their ministry commenced in 1951, it formally became an organization thirty years later.
The Benwerren Story investigates the vision and spiritual development of its founders, tracing both the life-process and spiritual vision formation of the founders in their journey toward the birth of an effective ministry to women and children on the margins of society.
For almost 70 years, hundreds of women and children have come to Benwerren for help, having experienced family dysfunction, broken trust, violent abuse, stress and trauma.
Benwerren today is a not-for-profit charitable organization run by volunteers and its guests are given time out to rest, retreat and recover. Seventy years on, its ministry is needed more now than ever.
The author articulates the heartbeat of the founder’s convictions and the ‘why’ of their passion and vision for women and children in need; a small but significant work in Melbourne’s early evangelical history and mission to broken families, in need of Christ’s love.
This book develops the social history of its time, an intersection of stories interwoven, where Olive and Howard are born into a War affected early Evangelical Church of Melbourne. It also captures’ the development of Christian youth movements, tent revivals and evangelist outreach ministries of their day.
Olive and Howard were the fruit of an era of Christian service, dedicated to saving and serving the lost. Melbourne City Mission, Christian Endeavour and Kew Baptist Church ministries all responded to the hope of a new silent generation, serving faithfully both through and after the great World Wars. Olive and Howard walked with humility, stepped out in quiet faith, reached their generation with Jesus’ love, bore a ministry for families in crisis.
“This book is a wonderful remembrance of wonderful works done out of faith, hope and love for Jesus — ‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things’, because ‘their hearts had been baptised into Christ by his Spirit.’”
Dr Allan Meyer
Careforce Life-keys – Community Resources Inc.
“Through the lens of time in “The Benwerren Story”, Douglas gives voice to “the silent generation”. Read it and discover how God uses those who seem insignificant in this world but who have been used meaningfully for His purpose.”
Dr Stuart Robinson
Research Fellow – Melbourne School of Theology
Founding Pastor Crossway Baptist Church
About the author
Douglas Kirk McDonald has served in youth and young adult leadership and pastoral ministries over many years, primarily within cross-cultural contexts. He is presently serving in pastoral ministry at a local Church in Victoria, mentoring growing leaders, youth and families.
This book draws from the authors’ capstone research completed at the Melbourne School of Theology towards a ‘Master of Arts’ in Ministry. His capstone paper was a social-historical paper completed in 2019, focused on leadership ministry and vision development. https://benwerren.com.au/