Every time I fall into a pit of deep despair, when I truly think the world is falling apart and we, as human beings, are wretched creatures, something happens. Something sweet, and unselfish, and so full of the milk of human kindness that it takes my breath away. This video of 400 students serenading a teacher battling cancer came at just the right time. I hope it does the same for you.
Ben Ellis was a Bible and Latin teacher in Nashville, Tennessee. He has been battling cancer for some time, and recently received some pretty difficult news; the esophageal cancer that he has been battling for months has spread to his lungs, and his family recently decided to forego further treatment. When his former students at Christ Presbyterian Academy heard the bad news, they decided to pay tribute to him. The entire student body boarded a bus to Ellis' home (which he shares with wife, Shelly, and their children, all of whom are students at Christ Presbyterian Academy), to sing hymns outside his window. They wanted him to know how much he had meant to them as a teacher and a human being... and I think Ellis got the message loud and clear.
The moving video of students serenading Ellis with hymns was shared on country singer Tim McGraw's Facebook page, and has since gone viral. Ellis, with his wife beside him, was visibly moved by the sweet tribute from his students. He wrote:
Last Wednesday, the entire CPA high school came and sang songs of praise and worship under my bedroom window. It was beautiful and unforgettable. A video of the worship time has circulated. Since then almost 20 million people have viewed the video online world wide! God has blown the doors off of this prayer request! This is far beyond our wildest, biggest dreams.
It was a perfectly beautiful moment in what must have felt like a terribly difficult time for the Ellis family. As Christ Presbyterian Academy Headmaster Nate Morrow told Today:
"It was a place where the veil between heaven and Earth felt very thin. Ben said back to the students that he loved them and that they need to continue to love each other as well."
Sadly, since the students serenaded Ellis, he has succumbed to cancer. Ellis died on Friday morning. In a statement released after his death Morrow said:
"He left these words for us, spoken over the students at his house, and I share them with you to guide us now. He [Ellis] said, 'I love you. I believe now, more than ever, that God is good, and that He is with us. I am full of hope, peace, and joy. I wish all this for you. Look to Jesus to know, to believe, and to be filled.'"