Santiago and Diana Benavides
Santiago and Diana Benavides, and their two school age children are a Colombian family from Medellin with many years of sacrificial, creative, life bringing ministry under their belt. They have joined LAM for short term service in Canada and hope to take time to ‘regroup’, be refreshed, to expand their service to new cultural boundaries, to serve the local church and to get involved in LAM ministry in Canada.
Santiago grew up in a happy Catholic home, and together with his family, he was invited to an evangelical church during a family crisis. His negative preconceptions of the evangelical church had not prepared him for his discovery of Jesus in the Scripture teaching and in the worship. He accepted Jesus immediately and has been ‘all in’ since then! Santiago’s faith motivates his ministry in song writing and worship leading. He has a passion for people to understand who God is, what Jesus has done for them and for the children of God to put their faith into action.
Santiago has a masters in music with a focus on history from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, a theology degree from the Bible Seminary in Medellin and has studied business administration. Since 1993 Santiago has worked in ministry in multiple roles such as a leader, music director, liturgy director, mission’s leader, youth pastor, professor, and chaplain. Santiago has been the director, speaker and song writer for the Altagracia Project since 2010 which ministers through the arts. He also has been a sought-after worship leader/missions concert performer, throughout Latin America, North America and Europe since 2012.
Santiago sees his role as a song writer and performer as prophetic, calling Christians to embrace our call to the reconciliation of all things and as a voice that is able to reach people with the truth of the gospel. He says he wants “to make music that can cross religious prejudices, carrying the beauty, truth and goodness of the Gospel.”
Diana was introduced to Jesus by Santiago while they were dating 23 years ago, she had been a practicing Catholic but was convicted when participating on a Bible study on the Letter to the Galatians Bible. She converted and has a life-giving relationship with Jesus, depending on Him for guidance in her personal convictions, decisions and in her ministry.
Diana is a licensed psychologist, who recently completed her masters in psychotherapy at Pontificia Universidad Bolivariana, Medellín. Diana uses her skills as a gifted counselor in ministry. She has been the student services manager at the Bible Seminary in Medellin where she did her Theology degree 2003-2007. Diana’s hopes for a sabbatical in Canada would be for them to have more time together as a family, for her to take her studies to the next level. She would love to see that the Church is professionally and spiritually prepared to help those affected by the violence and abuse over the 60 years of conflict in Colombia.