Rev. Tom Benz serves as President of Bridges of Faith. Originally ordained as a United Methodist minister, Tom pastored in the United Methodist Church for 5 years. He then founded and pastored a trans-denominational community church for 10 years in Kentucky.
Until February of 1999, Tom Benz served as Southeast Regional Director for International Bible Society, developing partnerships to underwrite, publish, and distribute new translations of the Bible. Notably, he worked to complete the Chichewa translation for the Milawe people of Africa. Tom has worked in Mexico, Guatemala, the Philippines, and Ukraine, sharing the Gospel with those most in need.
In 1999, he founded the organization now called Bridges of Faith, a ministry targeting orphans and other children in need in Ukraine. Since then, thousands and thousands of children have seen the love of God in both Word and Deed; they have not only heard the Gospel, but also have experienced the power of God’s love through humanitarian aid, through Scripture, and through hundreds of Christians who have been trained and deployed through this ministry. Bridges of Faith also works in Ukraine to help orphans transition to adult life as they graduate from orphanages. BOF owns the 140 acre BridgeStone Prayer and Retreat Center 30 minutes north of Montgomery. Groups of Ukrainian orphans visit each year for intercultural education and a strong Christian camp experience, and most find adoptive homes.
Larissa, Tom’s wife, taught English and linguistics at the university level in Ukraine while also serving as one of the favorite interpreters of English speaking ministries in Ukraine. Her depth of understanding of Scripture, passion for Christ, and love for people immediately set Larissa apart. Raised an atheist behind the Iron Curtain and dramatically apprehended by Christ in 1993, Larissa has moved the ministry of Bridges of Faith forward with her gifts of leadership, hospitality, linguistics, and hands of ministry to children.
Tom holds degrees in Religion and Philosophy, Music, and Non-Profit Management, having studied at Kentucky Wesleyan College, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt Divinity School, and Oxford Graduate School. Larissa earned advanced degrees in the former Soviet Union in linguistics. When not traveling, they live in Millbrook, Alabama.