Brian & Malisa Ellis – Serving with Cru in Boston
Malisa and I serve with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) in Boston. You can find out more about that by looking at www.cruboston.com.
As a High School student growing up in Utah I loved school, enjoyed playing soccer and basketball. I thought that my resume needed to have some community service on it if I intended to get into medical school, which had been a life long childhood dream. I was one of those little girls who would make my mom play doctor with me for hours after I received my priced possession of a Fisher Price Doctor Bag.
So on top of being really focused on school and athletics I was also bound and determined to squeeze one more thing into my weekly calendar and that would be volunteer work at a local nursing home. I was obsessed with performing well and accomplishing all the right things on the outside. But inwardly I was rebellious.
My senior year of high school I was in a minor car wreck in a coffee shop parking lot. I LOVE coffee to this day. I also love to downhill ski. And a few months later, the woman who hit my car was with me at a ski weekend in Jackson Hole. On that ski weekend someone mentioned that we should thank people in the room who had been incredibly kind to us. At that point I got up and wandered over the Nan thanking her for being so kind and accepting of me. She looked at me and asked if I was ready to become a Christian.
She shared with me that because of my rebellion I was separated from God and that is why God sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross and pay for all the my rebellion.
I nodded in understanding and then she mentioned that it wasn’t enough to just know these things but that I had a choice to accept the gift that God was offering me in his son. That I could turn from my rebellion against God and accept the gift of his forgiveness and let him direct and guide my life that way that He intends it to be.
I said YES to that! Right there, I begin to talk with God and ask him to forgive me of my rebellion against him and to come into my life, and make me the kind of person He intended for me to be. From that point on, as an 18 year old headed to college at Montana State University, God begin to change my heart slowly but significantly. He began to reorient my life away for striving to fill my resume, away from performing in all areas of my life and towards Him. I still love studying; I love reading; medicine still fascinates me, but more importantly I am desperate for God to be the one that directs my life. I know that when I try to lead my life alone, I still make a mess of it.
So day-by-day I want to draw on the guidance and direction of Jesus and allow him to be the leader in my passions, directions, and my relationship with Brian and others. I know I wont do this perfectly, in fact I will continue to mess up but I also know that I have a God would desires good for me and will lead and direct me every step of the way if I will only let him.
There’s no magical moment that I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I cant put a day on it. Instead, as physical birth takes 9 months beforehand and a lifetime of growth afterward, so in my walk, the conversion has been a process. Growing up, I went to a Catholic Church, but I was more interested in going out for breakfast afterwards. Throughout high school, I stayed involved in my church, teaching Sunday school and having great discussions with others about the Bible and what it meant to be a Christian.
I started working for a woman named Rhonda Woodman who invited me over to her house for dinner every Monday night. She and her family always had about 20 people over for dinner. What hospitality! After dinner we would sit on a big red sectional couch and talk about life. She and her husband Steve were always encouraging me in my faith but also telling me, “You really should come to church with us.” After two years of asking, I finally joined them. The church was fabulous. For the next few years, I continued to grow in my relationship with God through the Woodman family and at church.
At some point during those years, I came to understand, more than intellectually, that Jesus Christ had died for my sins. And so while there wasnt a particular moment of conversion it certainly happened. And it is continuing to happen. During and after college, God has continued to work in my life, giving me a greater understanding of His character and his saving Grace in my life.
If you had asked me when I graduated from College if I would become a full time missionary, I would have laughed. I attended Babson College where I studied finance and entrepreneurship, won Babson’s John Muller business plan competition, won the Roger W. Babson award, and aspired to a successful career in business. I loved it. It was fun. And that’s where I was headed. But after graduation, I spent a year volunteering with Cru: sharing the gospel and building into students lives. And Gods Grace has captured my heart. I saw students lives changed for all eternity across the table from me as I met them for lunch and shared with them the basics of the Christian message.
I would tell these students that while we were created by God for relationship with him, we’ve all rejected him. We’ve all taken control of our lives and said to God, effectively, shove off. Ill take it from here. The problem is: God is the author of life. Life without him is death. So we need a savior. We need someone to live the life we should have lived, and die the death we deserve to die. We have that savior in the man Jesus Christ. Jesus always lived under Gods rule. Yet by dying in our place he took our punishment and brought forgiveness. God raised Jesus to life again as the ruler of the world. Jesus has conquered death, now gives new life, and will return to judge.
I explain to these students that all this leaves us with a choice of two ways to live. We can live our way rejecting the ruler, God, and trying to run life our own way, without him. The result is that were condemned by God and facing death and judgment. Or we can live Gods new way. Submitting to Jesus as our ruler, relying on his death and resurrection. And the result is that were forgiven by God and given eternal life.
As I saw peoples lives change, I chose to step out of the normal path for business school graduates and instead join Cru as we work to share the gospel with every student in Boston. I really love introducing people to Jesus. And I love to do it alongside the love of my life.