It's hard to describe the intensity of our forward progress as each one of us is trained, convicted, challenged, and moved closer to Jesus here at Ellerslie. Sunday morning, Mr. Ludy preached a powerful message on forgiveness, and Monday morning in our first session, he opened up the microphone for anyone who wanted to share a testimony of what God has done in their life.
He has opened up the microphone before for 10 to 20 minutes on various days, for people to share testimonies or confess sins that are burdening their hearts. But Monday, the stream of testimonies continued for hours, all throughout the duration of the morning session. We closed for lunch and resumed for the afternoon session, and the steady stream of people continued through the entirety of the two hours in the afternoon.
There were tears, there were confessions, there were people declaring their forgiveness for their parents or other people and praying a blessing over them, there were breakthroughs, there were prayers.
But I don't think anything was as powerful as when Marvin got up to share. He walked to the front and took the microphone with the look of a man going to his death.
"All of you are talking about forgiving your mom or dad," he said, "and it makes me a little bit envious, because I never had one." Marvin grew up in the foster care system and lived on the streets in Florida. He gave a short testimony of how the Lord had been breaking through in different areas of his life since he had been here at Ellerslie, and then he said softly, "I don't really know what I'm doing up here, because I still haven't forgiven my mom for lying to me for 14 years, telling me she was coming to get me, when she never did." And then this great, tough, cool man began to weep.
The effect on us as the body was unforgettable. Almost all the girls were in tears, and we were all praying for him to be able to get the breakthrough. Mr. Ludy went to his side and began to counsel him, but he just couldn't do it. He couldn't see how he could forgive. He was afraid he was wasting all of our time. Mr. Ludy posed the question to us. "Is this wasting our time?" A resounding "NO!" rose up from every throat. One by one, the guys began to walk up to the front to surround him in silent support, until every man in the room was gathered around this one member of the body who was struggling.
Us girls were praying, laboring, with a grief that was inexplicable except as an evidence of the burden God's spirit was placing on our hearts for him. I felt a wrenching, burning sadness, as if I could feel the child's pain and loneliness, as if I myself was experiencing the agony of waiting for a mother who never came, as if I was entering in for a moment into the feeling of what it's like to be an orphan. I have never labored in prayer in such a way, but it was as if a wall had to come down in Marvin's heart, and God was using all of us to help to pull it down.
The minutes ticked away unheeded. I have no idea how long we simply prayed for Marvin, until the breakthrough came, and he got victory. Praise be to God for His mighty work!