“Feed my sheep.”
These are the words Ben Minks heard God speak to him in 1996, the same year he married his high school sweetheart, Rachel.
Today, Ben and Rachel Minks own Capstone Homes, a home building company in Ramsey, Minnesota, that builds throughout the Twin Cities.
While they now have a thriving family and business, that has not always been the case.
“I was raised in a good family. My parents taught me about the Lord, but I learned more behavior management and compliance than anything. I knew all the right religious answers, but at the end of the day, I was just really into my own plan for my life,” said Ben.
Ben met his wife when they were in junior high school. After being close friends for many years, they began dating Ben’s senior year of high school and Rachel’s junior year.
“We dated for four years throughout high school and college before we married in 1996,” said Rachel. “We have always been best friends first, and we still are. We could not be more opposite, but we make a strong team.”
It was during the season they were dating that Ben was weighing what to do for a living.
“I started a sheetrocking business while in college, so many of our dates were driving around construction sites while Rachel wrote down the names of builders I could get work from,” said Ben.
After a few years of juggling classes, playing college baseball, dating Rachel and running his own business on the side, Ben decided to try out something that could offer more stability. He decided to enroll in physical therapy school.
“I was exhausted from balancing so many things, so I really wanted physical therapy school to work. I think deep down though, I knew my heart was not in it – it was in business,” said Ben.
“After my first night of physical therapy school, I was driving back home and was praying God would show me what to do. I had pulled off the road to gas up my car, and as I was pulling back out, a cop car collided into mine at 75mph, broadsiding me on the driver’s side of my vehicle,” said Ben.
“When I woke up, I was in a crushed car. I saw the cop leaning over me. He exclaimed, ‘I cannot believe you are alive. I was sure I had killed you.’”
God had answered Ben’s prayer in a very abrupt way.
“Due to the injuries I suffered, I had to quit physical therapy school to recover from the accident,” said Ben.
It was back to sheetrocking after that. Not only did Ben go back, he went back full-time and started getting more serious about the business after his recovery.
Not long after Ben and Rachel got married, they moved to Ramsey and built their first home together as a couple.
“I completely fell in love with the process of building a house through the process of building our own home. Homebuilding required creativity and provided a financial puzzle. As you designed it, you could see each step progressing right in front of your eyes. The whole thing just seemed to engage all the gears in my brain,” said Ben.
This was the beginning of something much larger than one house. The Minks sold that first home and built another, and then another, and by 2003, Minks Custom Homes was in full swing.
As their business began to grow, so did their family. Ben and Rachel welcomed their firstborn son, Reese, around this same time. A few years after that came their second son, Wes.
“We were up to building about 75-100 homes a year by 2008,” said Rachel. “Our business was growing and after having our two boys, we started thinking about adopting internationally.”
From the outside looking in, everything was going well for the Minks.
Then the recession hit, and it hit Minnesota hard.
“We had recently done our first land development project and had just built our first office building as well. This meant we had debt payments bigger than we had ever had before,” said Ben.
Quickly realizing that homes were not selling as much, the Minks along with their leadership team decided to lower their prices, and they actually came out of the recession financially stable.
“Looking back, God was so involved in setting us up. Not only did we not go out of business, but we kept a somewhat consistent flow of business,” said Stephen Bona, Vice President of Land.
While the business was coming out of the recession in one piece, Ben and his family were not.
“We got hit with a lawsuit in 2009,” said Ben. “Some individuals we had done business with had broken some laws, unbeknownst to us. The claims were false, but it had the potential to really hurt us.”
“I was a young guy worth a few bucks and I let it all get to my head. I was becoming a really angry person at work and at home, and I wanted to walk out on my marriage. I knew it would be wrong, but I was going to do it despite what God thought,” said Ben.
The only thing that kept Ben from doing any of that, was the lawsuit.
“That lawsuit was a custom designed situation to get straight to Ben Minks’ heart. Any other situation I could have dealt with, but mess with my reputation and try to take the money I held so dear… no, God went for the very thing He knew would bring me to my knees,” said Ben.
Due to the severity of the lawsuit and the recession still looming, an attorney advised Ben to liquidate.
“I would not liquidate my company, instead, I decided to pray,” said Ben.
“I vividly remember that day. Everyone was gone, and I was home alone pacing the living room. I prayed that God would save the business and help me, but just a few days prior, I was going to walk out on my marriage. I felt so ashamed even asking for God’s help because I knew I did not deserve it,” said Ben.
Deserving or not, God responded.
“I really didn’t pray or read the Bible at that time, but I was desperate. There was a Bible in the living room and I felt God say, ‘You better grab that Bible and read some of the red words.’”
Ben opened up to a story about a farmer scattering seed.
“The story was in Matthew 13 and it talked about four different kinds of soil a seed can fall into. I knew the seed represented the Gospel. I also knew which kind of soil represented my life. I was the one full of weeds. I had heard the Gospel, but the worries of this life and the pursuit of wealth and riches had choked it out,” said Ben.
This realization unraveled him.
“I was just broken enough that I completely lost it. I was 35 at the time and had not cried since I was 11-years old. I was proud of that record, but all of that pride came crashing down. I cried out to God and told Him I was sorry. While I was praying, I had a vision of two paths, and Jesus was on one motioning me over to Him because I was far away on another path. I knew I had to get to Him, so I did. That was the day I surrendered my life to Jesus,” said Ben.
Things started to change after that.
“Really, not many of my circumstances changed, but I changed. The lawsuit was still there hanging over my head, but I somehow knew it was going to be okay. I started to become so hungry for the Word of God. I felt that God was always speaking to me, everything was so profound during that time,” said Ben.
God also started to restore and repair Ben and Rachel’s marriage, as well as Ben’s relationship with his sons. None of it was an overnight process, but God slowly began to heal and redeem what had been broken.
“We were still looking into international adoption at this time,” said Ben. “I don’t know what we were thinking with all that was going on, but Rachel was so passionate about seeing this happen, and as I deepened my walk with God, I poured my heart into the process too.”
In 2010 the Minks were lined up to bring two little girls home from Russia.
“We were so excited,” said Ben. “Our sons had been praying every night for their new sisters, we had given our hearts to these two girls.
Weeks before the adoption was to be finalized, Russia abruptly shut down adoption to the United States.
“We were devastated,” said Ben. “Adopting internationally is no joke. We had poured all of our emotions into the process, as well as a lot of time, resource and energy.”
Deciding to give their hearts a chance to heal, the Minks set their dream of adoption to the side.
While God was not opening doors in the way of increasing their family, He was increasing the size, and vision, of their business.
Ben knew that he could not keep running his business the way he had. He wanted to give it fully over to God.
“Around the same time the adoption of our two girls fell through, we changed our name from Minks Custom Homes to Capstone Homes,” said Rachel. “I remember the day we took down our old sign – it seemed like such a holy and symbolic moment. We were so excited to give the business over to the Lord.”
Neither Ben or Rachel had forgotten the word God had spoken to Ben in 1996.
“We had known early on that whatever direction our lives would go, God was going to do something significant through us. We wanted to build something bigger than just a big bank account. While we didn’t know what it would look like specifically, we knew God had told us to feed His sheep,” said Rachel.
So, they started with the last thing they heard God tell them to do.
*We will finish telling the Minks’ story next Monday in a second installment.*
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