When he isn’t working at his main job, Terry works on cars, and bicycles. He also lost his bike shop in the fires. Sarah was born in Roanoke, Virginia, and grew up in Giles County. After Terry and Sarah were chosen, Sarah shared with God’s Pit Crew that she had heard of the organization since she was from Virginia, and she also had a personal connection to the ministry. Years earlier, in 2005, Sarah’s family volunteered alongside God’s Pit Crew in their relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. Sarah shared that at the time, her brother was troubled and credits God’s Pit Crew with inspiring him to turn things around in his life, which led him to dedicate his life to the Lord.
The Bensons had lived in their home in Gatlinburg for about four years, but the home had a very sentimental tie to Terry. Terry’s mother and father had built the home in the 1960s, and Terry grew up in that home until he was 12 and the family moved. His parents then rented the house for many years until a tree in the yard was struck by lightning and fell on the house. Terry’s mother asked him and Sarah if they would move into the home to begin fixing it up. In May 2016 Terry’s mother suffered a stroke and moved in with them in June. Terry and Sarah took care of her, but she slowly declined after her stroke. “She was placed on hospice in late September and then she passed November 3. Terry’s mom gave us the house in her will. However, on Monday the 28th, the fires came and changed Terry and Sarah’s lives forever. The Bensons had no idea when they left their home that evening, that it would be completely destroyed by the fires.
“The smoke was awful but it had been awful all dayfrom the fire on Chimney Tops. The wind started blowing so hard we were afraid of trees falling on the house again. A tree fell in the neighbors yard and hit a transformer at the corner of our yard and it blew up sending sparks and embers everywhere. That’s when we decided to leave with our dog, bird, three cats, our birth certificates, and our Bibles that belonged to our grandparents. We wanted to get our animals to safety and return to get more items from the house. We drove down the road a little way and saw flames everywhere; we sat stuck in traffic for awhile. We then knew we wouldn’t be going back that evening. We lost so much that evening, so much that will never be replaced, but it will never be forgotten. We had just inherited all of Terry’s mother’s and father’s treasures. We had antique pie safes, pictures from Terry’s parents childhood, and beautiful paintings that Sarah painted.
We had no idea that everything was on fire when we evacuated.” In February 2017, in the middle of the rubble and remains of their beloved home, God’s Pit Crew officials told Terry and Sarah that they were chosen as the recipients of a new home that would be built by God’s Pit Crew volunteers in June.