I have known this young man ever since he came to Newton County High School to teach English in 2005, but you never really know someone until you can sit down with him as I did today to hear his life and his heart.
Benjamin David Wall, son of David and Mary Wall of Forest, was born March 22, 1977. His sister is Marcie Pinson, who lives in Little Rock with her three children. Ben’s father worked for Ott and Lee Funeral Home in Forest in the insurance department for many years before passing away, a victim of cancer in 2007. His mother Mary, though retirement age, still works for Forest Insurance Agency part-time, as she has done clerical and bookkeeping work all Ben’s life. He remembers her working in this capacity at Scott County Co-op when he was a child, then being with the Bank of Forest for many years.
Ben made the most of his high school years at Scott Central High School, before graduating as valedictorian in 1995. Elected Student Body President, he was also active in BETA Club and the gifted class. He worked on the annual staff, sang in the chorus, and played trumpet in the band.
He continued more of the same excellence at East Central Community College, playing trumpet in the band, participating in dramas, dinner theatre, and musicals, while keeping up Phi Theta Kappa-level grades. He finished with an Associate of Arts degree in 1997.
Ben moved to Meridian and began working at the Hampton Inn at the front desk, while finishing his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Mississippi State University at Meridian. After graduation in 1999, he was offered a position as American Eagle Assistant Manager, so he worked there for a year.
His first teaching position was at Morton High School, where he stayed from 2000 to 2005. He began work on his Master of Arts in teaching during that time and finished it in 2006. His first year at NCHS was 2005-2006, teaching ninth and tenth grade English. After teaching those grades two or three years, Mr. Wall became the Senior English teacher, which he continued until this year. This makes his first full year as the Library-Media Specialist at NCHS. He is also continuing as Yearbook Advisor, which position he has held for about seven years.
Ben told me of the time he spent in actual classes at Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, working on his Master’s, and how that was a true highlight of his life. Every class he took, every assignment, were all connected with a Christian worldview, using scriptures that related to each area of study. He exclaimed, “It was wonderful!”
That led right into discussion of the development of his Christian life, the building of his faith and his walk with God. He was brought up in Piketon Community, attending Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church. As a teenager about thirteen years old, in junior high school during Vacation Bible School, he recalled, “Our Youth Directors, Deborah and Larry Gallaher, were in charge. The Lord just worked. Whatever they were teaching that day, whatever the lesson was on, it just all fell into place. I decided I wanted to accept the Lord. Then that was followed by baptism.” As he remembered his childhood Sunday School teacher, Ms. Mary Bryant, calling her “the sweetest lady,” he told me, “Seeds had been planted before.”
“During my college years, when I lived in Meridian, my family and I moved our letter to Steele Baptist Church in Forest on Highway 21. Rev. John Boggan was the pastor, with his wife Ann from Hickory. They had a significant impact on my spiritual life. He shared, “That was the first time I started working with the youth and leading the song service. Ms. Ann taught our college and career class. Bro John was an amazing pastor, so kind, loving, smart.” He told of how he enjoyed working with the youth there so much, filling in as Youth and Music Director for about a year. He continued, “The Boggans just taught me what it means to be a Christian and how to live as a Christian, studying the Bible.”
Then when the Boggans were no longer the pastors there and the church was looking for a new pastor, the Walls began attending Salem Baptist in Lake in 2002. The pastor was Rev. Larry Duncan with his wife Pequita. Ben used the word “Phenomenal,” saying, “It was just the Lord, putting the right people in the right place.” Again Ben was called on to lead the youth, 9-12th graders, which he did through last year. Mrs. Natalie Emmons is the Music Director, but she also plays the piano, so Ben has been the Song Leader for worship services since 2002. He is also an active participant in the choir. He described Salem Baptist, saying, “The church has grown tremendously. They’re so wonderful, with everyone welcoming, friendly, warm, Spirit-filled.”
Ben continued to tell me of God’s work in his life, explaining, “It’s just the Lord’s plan and how He works. Another level. Still growing, of course, deeper, better, richer, more confident, hopeful. With all the things going on in the world, I have peace. Without all these people, I would not have. I’m thankful I was in their paths. Belhaven was put there at the right time in my life.” He struck me as a wise, grateful young man, who is thankful for the people and experiences God has placed in his life.
I asked the question, the “elephant in the room” question, as to why he had never married. He explained, “I never found the right one. I may be picky, but I’m not going to settle. There have been a few young ladies that have come through my life. I have lived and learned. I realize I wasn’t ready at those times. When, or if, the Lord wants it, He’ll bring us together at the right time. If not, it’s not for me to question.”
He spoke again of having wonderful friends and told me of his sister Marcie and her children to whom he is very attached. Marcie teaches Special Education at Neshoba Central. His niece Maddie is a senior at NCHS, while her sister Marleigh is in the eighth grade at Neshoba Central. Their brother Tyson Pinson, eight years old, while he is highly functioning, was born with a very mild Down’s syndrome. With tears in his eyes, Ben told me, He has just been a blessing to us, very sweet. It was a tough birth. He’s a miracle! Through the prayers of many, many friends.”
I asked about his future plans, to which he replied, “I’m happy here. This is year 22 for me. I’ll probably work until I can’t. I enjoy doing what I do. I’ll keep on as long as I can.” He spoke of
Newton County, “It’s a wonderful place to live and to work. The children here are wonderful. I love the community. They push education, and there is lots of community support.” And I am thankful for Ben’s sharing his story with me.
Live for Jesus! He’s coming soon! You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-635-3282.