We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

                                                                                                                                                                                2 Corinthians 4:7-11

After traveling for work for many years, Gary Behler desired to find a job where he could remain in one place to raise his family. Although logistics and pay posed an obstacle, Gary prayed on his decision to accept the position at Bethel Bible Village as the Family Services Director.

It wasn’t long after Gary started with Bethel that he realized the time of change that was on the horizon for the organization. In the year 2000, a lawsuit was filed against the state of Tennessee in an effort to place children into foster homes, rather than a group home setting. “This was a huge turning point for Bethel and other children’s homes,” Gary said, when explaining the changes that were required after the lawsuit was settled in 2001.

With those changes, Bethel lost state funding due to the nature of the organization as a group home. As residential numbers decreased, the organization relied heavily on independent referrals. Gary and the directorial staff agreed they wanted to continue to offer kids in need the best opportunities. “We made it a goal to provide top level care,” Gary said.

The experiences with the kids stand out to Gary as a highlight reel from his time at Bethel. “We had celebrities come to campus, we had concerts, and we had a lot of cool things going on for them,” he said. Gary built lasting relationships with kids who came to Bethel, and still keeps in touch with them today.

After leaving Bethel, Gary began a career as a Juvenile Court Clerk, and he was recently named State Court Clerk of the Year. He also serves as a professor at UTC, teaching criminal justice classes. Gary has always had a passion for working with youth, and he reflects on his time at Bethel fondly, explaining, “It was tough work, but we had great kids at Bethel, and it was the little things that made it fun.”