It is always difficult to put into words what God is doing in us on the spiritual level. Perhaps that is why I have written so many of them (words, that is). Grab a cup of warm beverage and cozy up to read what God has done at Ellerslie.
I stepped onto the quiet campus one late-January afternoon to find the girls just gathering to pray outside and the boys just finishing up a game of Ultimate Frisbee. Classic. It was an exceptionally warm day, so everyone was basking in the sunlight. I found that there was a thirst, a desperation growing inside of me for God to move upon this campus. He had done so much here already, but it was time for the next level of surrender. Over the next week, I poured over my Bible, learning of what He says about our spiritual journey, followed by falling to my knees and asking God to do all that He promised in me and in Ellerslie as a body. I have never before been so hungry for His promises.
Monday morning found me settled in, waiting to hear what Eric would talk about in Ellerslie Global. A typical trademark of our weekly Ellerslie Global class is that Eric generally goes off on some random yet interesting tirade on whatever he happens to be thinking about at the moment. That Monday was not any different. He said that he was pondering the idea of us commissioning intercessors into the prayer closet just like we would commission a missionary to the mission field. He believed that there were two people in our midst who were called to prayer, and that every single one of us knew who those were. It was unanimous amongst the body. Nick Thompson and Thaysse Costa had been called by God to pray.
Two days later, Nik Ellison gave the morning devotion titled ‘ Stepping Stones.’ What a challenge it was to our souls to ask ourselves if we were willing to be unseen that Jesus Christ may be seen. We had all pondered this question before, but that morning it seemed to hit us at a deeper level. After worship, Nick Thompson came to the front to share something with us. At this point we were buckling our seatbelts and preparing our souls to be shaken by what he would say. Every time Nick shares something with the group, God has moved deeply in his life, and as a result, we too would be moved and challenged at deeper levels than we had previously imagined. God had called Nick to a season of prayer, a season of absolute givenness to the Lord’s agenda. He was pulling out of classes, and that afternoon he was going into his room and not coming back out until God had given him permission. I think what touched our hearts the most was that he was going into the prayer closet so that he could intercede for us as a body at Ellerslie and pray for what God was going to do in our midst. Eric had previously joked about Nick coming out of the prayer closet with a shining face like Moses had when he came down from the mount. Nick said he believed it would be the opposite, that he would come out of the prayer closet bloodied and bruised and that we would have the shining faces because of our encounters with God. What challenging words those were! And yet, it was difficult to contain the tears of joy I felt. I knew that this was just the beginning of God’s answer to my prayers.
The next several days seemed to go on as ‘normal’ as possible. Yet in the back of our minds we were all asking ourselves several questions. “What does God want to do in me?” “Am I willing to be unseen?” “What are His plans for Ellerslie?” “How can I further die to myself?” And in every occupied bedroom on the Ellerslie campus (and some bedrooms off-campus too), the inhabitants were on their knees in prayer and bent over the Word of God with fervor previously unknown to us. Excitement, desperation, longing, hope, and supreme bliss were all building inside.
Saturday night we prayed for preparation in all our hearts for the sermon the next morning. Eric and Ben refused to let us in on what the sermon would be about, but we knew that it would be extremely challenging, and, as always, we knew it would be good. Sunday morning finally rolled around and we were expectantly waiting in our chairs for the title of the message. “The Man Under the Stage.” It was about the men who would literally sit under the stage for great preachers during the revivals and pray for God to move in their midst. How fitting. Eric explained that God had given him the sermon Tuesday night (before Nick even shared what God was calling him to). Wednesday morning he began working on the sermon, and sometime later that day he met with Nick and found out that he was being called under the stage. It was Eric’s 21st spiritual birthday that day. Anyone who knows Eric Ludy knows exactly how significant that is. Eric loves numbers and dates, and he had always said that it takes 20 years to make a man. You can imagine his expectancy then for his 21st spiritual birthday. God did not disappoint. Sunday morning God issued forth a call to prayer through Eric Ludy like I had never heard before. I found my soul stirred up and longing to answer that call. But what does a call to prayer look like? I have no idea, except that it varies in every single person. Nick responded to the call, and Thaysse also. Does that mean that all of us here at Ellerslie should shut ourselves up in our bedrooms at least 22 hours out of every day? No, not necessarily. Let God give us the specifics.
After the sermon ended, Eric asked anyone who acutely felt that call to stay so that he could talk to us more specifically. He expected 20 people at most to stay, but there was at least twice that many. I was sitting there journaling, wondering how a commitment to prayer could fit with the other things I knew God was calling me to. Should I stay? Should I go? Somehow I found myself glued to my seat, and even if I had wanted to get up and leave, I don’t think I could have. God is building up a band of prayer warriors, of intercessors. Just like he built one at Rees Howell’s college, so was he now building one here at Ellerslie. He desires to do something great in us, but before we receive the power from on high, we must first be prepared.
One morning several days later Nick showed up at worship to share something with us. We found out from Nick that every single woman that we have on staff had been hit with some type of physical sickness in the last several days. Nick shared that when he first went into the prayer closet, the first thing that God pressed him to pray for was physical health on the campus. It seemed to be an insignificant matter to him, but he prayed anyways. Thaysse (also in the prayer closet at the time) was told by God to pray for the same thing. Neither of them knew of the health issues going on amongst the staff, nor did they talk to each other about what they were to pray for. Clearly God had an agenda.
Nick was standing in front of us that morning because the enemy was gathering the troops, preparing to strike hard. He spoke to the men of Ellerslie directly (with great love in his voice) and said that as the watchmen they were appointed to protect and intercede for the women here. The “cowardly, little enemy”, he stated, always used the same tactics and went after the women and children first, and that the men were responsible to protect them. Nick said that they were not yet prepared for that attack. He called them to rise up as men and told them to meet him at 5:30 that evening to pray and fast. What exactly happened in that room, I couldn’t tell you. I do know, however, that God has instilled within our Ellerslie men a valiance previously unleashed. Our God is good, and He is doing a beautiful work in shaping our humble Ellerslie boys into audacious warriors of might. He is calling the women here to be ‘ezers’ (‘helpers’) as God intended us to be, allowing the men to stand up and fight for us while we ourselves are being pressed deeper and deeper into the love of God, learning to fight the Lord’s battles as well, learning to love as He loves, and learning to be edifying to those around us.
As we pick up our tent stakes and keep walking this trek the Lord has laid before us, my question to you is...
Will you join us?
The Lord has called His people to prayer. Will you answer?
I know that God has placed each of you specifically right where He wants you. Know that everything that God is doing here at Ellerslie is something that He wants to do in you also. As Eric said just the other day, “The Spirit of God is blowing, will you put up your sails?”
More Ellerslie news coming soon!