“It was the first time I publicly repented for hurting people in the church and lying to my leaders. I had never really done that. Then confessing to the entire church about why I hadn’t been doing much in the last four years…” Will said thinking about that Sunday. “The Holy Spirit was moving and nothing could have prepared us for what was about to happen…”
Sharing a plate of warm cookies and warm tea, I sat down with Will and Jacinta Ellis, beloved members in the community who recently returned to the worship team. As I listened, I learned of their pilgrimage to breakthrough that came at a certain peak on March 20, 2022 — the date God’s grace and kindness led the congregation to humility and public repentance.
A long-time worship leader of Crossing Life Church, Will had to learn to lay down his gift for music in the midst of his struggle with pornography. “Worship was like an idol. It was the one thing I could do well, and the one thing everybody recognized that I did well… That’s where I felt like I had value. I didn’t want to confess (my sin) because I didn’t want to let go of leading worship. What did it mean about me if I couldn’t do it anymore?”
When we say “yes to the invitation of God to allow Him to transform us, He opens our eyes to the beliefs, the lies, the desires and gifts — anything we have exalted and trusted in above Him and His ways. The invitation is to lay these things down, give them to Him in exchange for what is best — knowing Him and the depths of His Goodness and Love. What we learn is that God is the only one sufficient, and that He can undoubtedly be trusted to ask of, give to, and do what is truly best for us. In essence: What does it truly look like to truly die to our beliefs and desires?
“There were some deaths I died along the way… It was this tension of a gift and call,” Will said. “There would be times where I felt like I was doing well, so I’d ask ‘why isn’t it time now?’ …I was always trying to manipulate and plot my way back to where I wanted to be instead of being content where I was. Being present was what I needed to work on, because I was always looking forward and ahead. But over time it got to a point where I knew myself. It wasn’t time yet.”
However, when it came to that Sunday, it was a no brainer. Will recalls, “I looked at Jacinta and was like ‘I think it’s time. I don’t care who knows anymore… God takes a long time to do a suddenly. All of a sudden you could see the testimony of his redemption…”
And that’s God’s business — redemption and bringing what is broken back into wholeness for His Glory. Before either Will or Jacinta knew what was happening, the leaders were welcoming back and asking them to lead the congregation in triumphant praise and worship in the midst of the corporate repentance that lasted for four hours!
While both Will and Jacinta have overcome together, the testimony of Jesus in their pilgrimage is shared by many who faithfully walked with them.
Our elders Brenda and Dave Matte, Wes and Cheryl Shattuck played a huge role in this story. Other mothers and fathers in the church like Shawn and Stephanie Foster, Mike and Deb Silver, and Susan and Kurt Michelson were just a few out of many names that came to their minds as they shared. “It was Jesus put on flesh through the community with people that were walking alongside us in some of our worst days together,” Will shared. “Celebrating victories, crying when you fall, rebuking when you’re stubborn.”
Jacinta added “It was community to the messiest degree. They were intimately acquainted with all the details and helped us walk through all that. It taught us how to trust others, be intimate, how to be real, vulnerable, and raw. It was intense accountability.” Along with the Ellis’, many experienced the power of community vulnerability and accountability on March 20th.
For those with a “yes” in their heart toward Jesus and desiring healing, deliverance and transformation, Crossing Life is rich in resource. To name a few — Weekend Encounter, Journey, For Men Only, and For Women Only are available. (Please reach out to the church office, Info Center, or any leader on a Sunday morning if this is you!) Alongside all the people who prayed for them and walked with them for years, these resources are what helped the Ellis’ funnel their story into The Light, where the enemy could no longer hold them captive to shame and fear.
The Ellis’ journey through surrender and sacrifice, grace and forgiveness, overcoming and restoration is one we all must learn to walk. Next week, their story continues with some very specific dreams and words that give testament to the power of God’s redeeming love. He is for us, not against us!