When our organization first arrived on this campus a decade ago, we had a clear vision for missions. It stood before us as a mighty monument of grandeur, as something akin to a golden statue of C.T. Studd flexing in the bright sunlight. We charged one another, “That is what we are building here — muscular missionaries!” We were designed as a training model to produce heroes, valiant men, and noble women to “go” into all the world. With a name like Ellerslie Mission Society, the grand and epic expectations were baked in from the start. In hindsight, looking back on these past ten years, I see something marvelous that has taken place here on this property, but not necessarily the “something marvelous” that we expected.
Oh, it’s not that we haven’t produced muscular missionaries here in Windsor. We have. But, we thought we would be the one sending them out. After all, that is what a mission society does.
After ten years, we have come to the conclusion that we are not really a mission society, in accordance with the classic definition. Instead, we are a preparatory training facility for a Christian’s effective entrance into a mission society. But, even more exciting than that, we are a preparatory training facility for a Christian’s effective entrance into … anything.
Organizations all over the globe look for laborers out of our graduates. Mission posts all over the world seek workers out of our student base. Churches the world over seek pastoral leadership potential out of our leadership trainings. Ministries often pick their key help staff exclusively out of our select graduates. And businesses hire our students simply because they come, often built-in, with the requisite character, industrious work ethic, and joyful spirit every business environment craves.
Ironically, we are still named Ellerslie Mission Society. But, our function has become beautifully specialized. We prepare our students for muscular living, whether that be the overseas mission field in Bangkok, Christian filmmaking in Franklin, or aircraft maintenance in Longview. We are uniquely positioned to supply foundational training to Christian leaders for every walk of life.
Thirteen years ago Leslie and I stood in the pouring rain on this property just outside the chapel building under a gazebo. Looking at the chapel building, where our primary training takes place daily, I asked audaciously, “Lord, train up the next generation of Hudson Taylors and Amy Carmichaels in that building.”
That is precisely what God is doing. For on this property a fire is burning in the hearts and lives of the leadership and the vast community that makes up and makes possible this precious environment. When someone arrives on this lakeside property, they encounter that fire. And, as fire is known to do, it changes them. It purifies them. It makes them shine brighter and hotter.
Ellerslie Mission Society may not be today what we once thought it was to become a decade ago. But, we are convinced God has given us an even greater job description. We don’t just prepare men and women to be sent out as missionaries to the farthest reaches of this earth, but we are set up to revitalize the Body of Christ and inspire every last one of them to become a radical missionary in their little corner of life.