Moving to the Eastside has been exciting for many reasons. Among them, it has been wonderful to serve again with dear friends like the Soters.
Rick and Ellen were converted as college students at Northern Illinois University. Rick has been a Christian for 28 years, Ellen for 31. They have been married for 24 years, and have two wonderful children: Ali (20) and John (16). Recently, I had a chance to ask them some questions about their journey in God’s Kingdom.
Q: What inspired you the most about becoming a Christian?
Rick: Being part of a church where the bible was used for everything we did led to great confidence that what I was doing was really God’s plan for my life. It was like being given a secret map. It was great because my friends had gone before me and were now showing me the path to God. My life now had a purpose other than me and what I could get.
Ellen: The summer before I went to college, I started reading my bible, stopped partying and tried to love God. I really didn’t know what I was doing. I remember praying that God would lead me to the truth, whatever that meant. Once I got to college, I was met by a woman in the dorms and she invited me to come to a “Bring Your Neighbor Day.” I absolutely loved it. I think seeing the truth lived out in people’s lives was inspiring to me. I knew I found what God wanted me to find – the truth, the power to really change myself and my sin, knowing how to be forgiven.
Q: After you became a Christian, how did you dreams change?
Rick: My dream before becoming a Christian was to become a doctor. After becoming a Christian, I still wanted to be a doctor, but it became very clear that taking care of people’s spiritual needs was more important than their physical needs. My goal then was to become a campus minister and go on a mission team to start a church in a city that didn’t have a church like ours.
Ellen: I didn’t have too many goals and dreams right out of high school, but I knew that I wanted to go to college and possibly become a teacher. After becoming a Christian, God filled my heart with so many dreams. I wanted to be in the ministry, go on a mission team, and lead many to Christ. God answered so many of those prayers…Rick and I were on a mission team, twice!
Q: What inspired you to go on the mission team to Seattle?
Rick and Ellen: The year was 1989. We arrived here Memorial Day weekend, 21 years ago. Our first church service was July 23 and with 22 members, God gave us 170 guests at our first service. It was awesome! We had always wanted to be on a mission team. It was a dream come true for us!
Q: How long have you lived on the Eastside?
Rick and Ellen: We have lived on the Eastside, on Mercer Island, since 1994.
Q: What are your greatest challenges?
Rick: Being a parent that doesn’t control his children, but instead lives a loving example. Second, balancing my time with God, my wife, my children, my career, my friends and neighbors, my bible talk, and my hobbies. Third, being responsible financially and being a good steward for God.
Ellen: My greatest challenges right now are: being the type of parent that loves unconditionally yet provides structure; speaks without judgment yet provides direction. Second, believing God has a plan for my children and that he will not forget them. Third, my impatience. Fourth, my fear.
Q: What gives you the most hope and joy?
Rick: Understanding that God forgives everything that I’ve ever done and could possibly do in the future. Also that my marriage is getting better, my relationship is growing stronger, and that my friendships are getting deeper.
Ellen: Seeing my children smile. Seeing them grow up and become wonderful adults who will love God with all their heart. Seeing people become Christians, because this world is an awful, dark place. Seeing disciples love each other. Being in a bible talk with my friends and we are all on the same page. Knowing God’s grace covers my sinful self and only by his grace does he keep a place in heaven for me
Q: In what ways are you growing closer to God?
Rick: As my faith grows I’m giving up the desire to try and control everything. I worry less and am less anxious because I’ve seen God continue to answer prayers with timing that keeps me dependent on him.
Ellen: Prayer. Crying out to God. Staying so connected to God that he replaces my fear and puts faith in my heart. Reading really good books like “It’s Not About Me” or “The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children” or “In The Eye of the Storm”. Life changing studies from the bible! God is answering my prayers and I am growing more dependent on him.
Thank you Rick and Ellen for sharing your heart with us. Thank you for your faith and service to God!