“Ellen is a native Tennessean who also claims North Carolina as home. She studied elementary education at Wheaton College and received her M.A. in biblical studies from Covenant Seminary. She doesn’t remember a time she didn’t know Jesus as her loving friend, and trusted in Him as Lord and Savior before age five.

As a result of early contacts with missionaries, Ellen felt the only reasonable response to the Lord´s work in her life was to serve Him in missions. In her teens she reexamined that desire in light of her fears and limitations, but the Lord reconfirmed her decision as she trusted in His power for His work.

Ellen has served in Acapulco since 1975 with MTW. Her ministry has included Bible studies; work with children, youth, and singles; and leadership training in Acapulco and Guerrero State. Ellen´s present responsibilities include administering and teaching in Maranatha Bible Institute and teacher-training seminars throughout Mexico. She especially enjoys discipling young people through these ministries.

Ellen was a founding member of New Horizon Christian School in 2000 and has continued on the board ever since. She is involved in finding resources for development, strategic training for the staff and board, and fundraising.”  (retrieved from mtw.org)

We asked Ellen a few questions to get to know her better.  Here is what she had to say…

What book is currently on your nightstand or by your favorite reading chair?  ? I usually have several books going at the time. On Saturday I dusted and reorganized several shelves of books and discovered two that I couldn’t remember ever having read, that looked interesting, so I put them out to read. The first is Small Man, by Stylianos T. Ayanoglou, who was a man of Greek ancestry, born in Cilicia, in Turkey, who was a Bible colporter (is that an English word) from 1902 through the Armenian massacre, the I World War and part of the 2nd, when they had to escape from the country. At 94, he wrote down his memories of his time preaching and selling Bibles, and the Lord’s guidance and care. It is a short book, but extremely interesting. I also found The Dynamics of Intimacy with God by Donald G. Mostrom, which I am just getting ready to start. To go to another extreme, I usually have a mystery or something of the sort going on. I just finished “The Winds”, a book written by my nephew Isaac Barnett. I don’t know exactly how to describe it – something a little like Tolkien, with orcs, dragons, elves, etc., but with some rather modern fighting machines, like tanks, and war strategies that are probably based on his experiences or training from Afganistan. I also just recently finished listening to a true and truly fascinating story about WWII tanks called Spearhead. This is probably more than you wanted to know.

Tell us one interesting fact about you.  For the first 21 years of my life, I never lived more than 4 years in any place (my father’s career as a pastor with a couple of years as a chaplain had us moving a lot).  After coming to Acapulco and finding a small apartment in 1974, I’ve never moved again (I did go to the US for HMA every 4 years or so, and my home base there actually moved 6 times, but I always came back to the same place here in Acapulco)!

Describe an experience you had on the mission field that has impacted the way you do ministry now.  This is a hard one. Nothing comes to mind at the moment. I could say that one of the very nice things about staying in the same place and with the same ministry (although things have changed greatly in the ministry. When I first came we were mostly working in the country with Theological Education by Extention and teacher training, and now most of my work is in Acapulco, but theological education and working with teachers still has a large part) is that I have been able to work for a long time with the same people and then their children and their children, and now there are even some from the 4th generation of the first students I had. I have appreciated that continuity. I’ll also say that from the beginning I worked with teens in ministry – taking a bunch to a village to do VBS, doing children’s camps, etc. – and it was great to see them learn to do ministry, and eventually to do it better than I could. Many of those teens are now the teachers at New Horizon Christian School or in their churches, etc. One memory: We used to have a children’s camp every year. It was very rustic (sleeping on the floor, fighting off mosquitos, stumps for chairs, etc. And of course, there were always certain children who were mischievous, played around with the rules, etc. Well, when they were 13, they were no longer eligible to come to the camp as children, so anybody who was interested could come as a junior counselor. And it seemed like some of the most mischievous boys wanted to come back. How those of us who had had them as campers laughed to hear them at the end of the day, exhausted, telling about one child who wet his sleeping bag along with one of theirs beside it, others who they were punishing by making them run around the area until they were tired because they wouldn’t go to sleep, etc. “Now you know what it felt like to be your counselor!” But they learned and within a few years had the chance to laugh at the next bunch of trainees. Those were good experiences and encouraged me to continue training young people, and then sit back and see them go.

What is your favorite food to eat in Acapulco?  My very favorite is Chile Enogada (probably not spelled right). It is a not so hot larger chile, stuffed with beef, potatoes, carrots, almonds, apples, raisins, and other good things, fried in egg white, and then covered with a sweet white sauce, made with cream and nuts and I don’t know what else, and then with pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top.

What are some specific prayer request you have for your country and ministry work? Right now, safety from the corona virus, as is the prayer for many places. Wisdom in making decisions as we work to make ministry work in this very different context. Maranatha Church is just starting Sunday School classes on Zoom and some of the teachers and students are having a bit of trouble with the system. Pray for that to all be worked out. We’ve had several deaths recently in our families (school and church), some from the virus and others many different things. Please pray for comfort for the families, and for some from the school where the family probably is not Christian. For Casa Hogar, please pray that we will get the money the children need to be able to come to New Horizon. For quite a few years we have had help from a foundation, but we haven’t been able to get in contact with them recently, and we don’t know if this covid-19 is going to affect their ability to help us. Then the things on my last prayer letter are still valid prayer requests.

To learn more about Ellen, check out her quarterly newsletters here: https://www.fpcmacon.org/ministry/missions/ongoing-projects/