The Benally Family:
They're happiest when they are singing
by Lilly Hovendick
The Benally Family Singers are no strangers to many of Indian Life readers. They are a traveling family who sing and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Delmona started traveling about 1968 with her parents and sisters—the Wesaw Family. The Wesaws are from
the Shoshone Reservation at Fort Washakie, Wyoming. Their heritage is not only Shoshone but also Comanche and Flathead Indians. Delmona excelled in playing the piano and singing, and it seemed God was calling her to her own ministry.
While in Savastee, New Mexico, she met Tony Benally who was new to the faith, having become a Christian while incarcerated. God's hand was on Tony.
Delmona and Tony were married and began traveling and holding evangelistic meetings. Tony sings and speaks Navajo fluently which was a real boost as they traveled in the Southwest.
Three beautiful daughters were born to the Benallys. Tonielle, Lucinda and Ramona. These girls have wonderful singing voices and musical abilities. Hence the Benally Family singers came into being.
Tonielle is married to Daniel Sandavol, Navajo, and they have three children. Lucinda is working on the reservation in tribal security.
Ramona, the youngest, works at the Shoshone Tribal Station as one of the managers. She has also begun a youth group called CRAVE. Helping with this group is her sister, Lucinda, her uncle Wesley Wesaw, cousin David Jones and friends Monte and Heather. CRAVE stands for Courage, Righteousness, Armor, Victory, and Eternal Life.
Today, the youth group has about 30 members, plus some adults who come to enjoy the music and Bible studies. The main thrust of the ministry is encouraging the youth to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Ramona's future plan is to have a Christian "boot camp" to train young people in the ways of the Lord.
Tony not only preaches but works part-time in tribal security. In spite of all these jobs, the family always takes time for singing engagements. They say they are happiest when ministering the gospel to hurting, struggling people.
Delmona passed away on July 9, 2010 after a 12-year battle with cancer. When she was first diagnosed, doctors gave her five years but God gave her seven more. Some people would call this a miracle.
Delmona had days when she was definitely "under the weather." She used to say that all the pain disappeared when they ministered the gospel. Her voice and musical ability was strong and blessed. Her enthusiasm and courage was an inspiration to all.
Tony and Delmona both suffered health problems which limited their travel lately. However, Delmona would want her family to continue singing and preaching the gospel as long as God gives them breath.