Inward Tugging for Outward Service - Ellie's Story

When you ask Ellie Crist how God is working in her life, the words just flow! There is a wholehearted excitement about how God has been leading her. The passion that God has been depositing in her heart to serve God and serve others is obvious.

Ellie began attending Ventura Missionary Church in middle school and says that she mainly “floated” through youth group in the beginning. But in eighth grade, Ellie approached Amy Holden (who would eventually become our Student Ministries Director for a season) and asked how she could help. Amy gave her a role to check in and welcome students as they arrived at youth group, and Ellie quickly realized that she enjoyed serving people and helping them get connected.

A few years later, Ellie began to lead a small group of middle school girls. She has now led small groups in Student Ministries for four years, and almost three of those years have been with the same girls. Ellie loves the deeper connections she’s been able to make with girls by investing in their lives over time. And little by little, God has continued to nurture a deeper desire in Ellie to serve God and love people as a Christian – “little Christ” in this world.

In high school, Ellie also developed a yearning to learn Spanish. She not only discovered she was gifted with languages, she was also inspired by a teacher that shared stories about people groups who were marginalized, mistreated, and sometimes outright abused in various cultures around the globe. This knowledge was stirring a desire in Ellie to get plugged into the bigger world with God’s love. At Ventura Missionary, the students are already exposed to God’s love, and Ellie wanted to begin going into places that didn’t have that blessing.

Now attending California State University Channel Islands, Ellie is majoring in Global and International Studies. She is learning so much about cultural patterns, political science, environmental and social realities and how they all blend together and impact societies, and ultimately, people. This is further solidifying the inward tugging toward outward service. However, the initial shifting of her mindset and “heartset” to serve internationally was interrupted by Covid when global mission trips – and even local outreach - opportunities came to a complete halt.

Throughout the pandemic, God continued to fan the flame of Ellie’s desire to take her heart of service cross-culturally. She continued to talk to her parents about how God was working in her and kept looking for ways she could step into that growing passion, but there appeared to be no outlet to put this passion into action.

Finally, the pandemic began to get further into the rearview mirror, and then seemingly out of nowhere, Pastor Doug mentioned in a sermon that he was taking a team to Mexico. The church hadn’t engaged in missions since the coronavirus outbreak began. Ellie knew God’s Spirit was telling her to ask about this opportunity. After the service, she stood in line to talk to Pastor Doug and asked if there might be a spot for her on the team. He said, “Yes!” So, three years after God began prompting her toward serving internationally, she was able to go to Mexico for a weekend of beautiful ministry.

Detail after timely detail unfolded on the trip. As Ellie participated in ministry, it felt so right, and she knew she had just taken another step onto where God’s path is leading. She was able to connect with people at Door of Faith Orphanage and with Rene and Cristina Matus, our missionaries in Mexico, to learn about opportunities that will help her lean even more into God’s plan for her. And, because our current Student Ministry Pastor, Parkher Murphy, was also on the trip, Ellie and Parkher were able to experience the ministries at the same time and begin to plan ways to engage our students in future global missions and local outreach opportunities. Ellie is developing a program for students to do just that called, “Help Out and Hang Out” and the youth department is beginning to implement it. Ellie’s Eighth Grade small group recently put together 20 bags filled with practical items for the homeless community in Ventura. They included notes to those who would receive the bags and the girls prayed for them as well. The very next day, these 20 bags went directly to the hands of those who needed these items most! Ellie loves having the opportunity to inspire and introduce students to do what she did that totally changed her life.

When asked what else she would like to say to those reading her story, Ellie said, “Listen to what God is saying to you, pray about it to discern how God is calling you, and be open to how God is leading you.” Amen, Ellie!


Jackie Sun - August 3rd, 2023 at 10:38pm

Way to go Ellie. Listen closely to God's small voice. I have no doubts that He has a big plan in place for you. Dios lo bendiga!

Al - August 3rd, 2023 at 10:50pm

Ellie, It is a blessing to have met you. I saw of how you held the hand of the baby at DOFO and how you loved the kids there. Follow your calling wherever it may lead you. God bless.

Kara Grabendike - August 4th, 2023 at 9:34am

We love Ellie! It’s beautiful to see how God is using Ellie’s desire to serve, her education, and her experiences to do his will.




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