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Following in His Steps

Travail is one of those words that has fallen out of use and, more sadly to the point, fallen out of practice. To travail means to intercede or pray as one giving birth. It’s the kind of prayer that was very much practiced by my parents and grandparents. Today’s church needs more who practice the ministry of travail.

All of this was not lost on me. However, I had a limited memory of my grandparents as my grandfather had died when I was two years of age and my grandmother when I was eleven. Consequently, my memories were more along the line of Grandma Spencer giving me pastel mints, which I loved, when visiting our family in Georgia or earlier when Grandpa Spencer asked my grandmother to give me a cookie when we lived on Elim’s campus. The latter may not be an actual memory but rather an imprint from the many times my mother and elder sisters told me of my short interaction with Grandpa.

Snapshot of a light moment with Ivan and Minnie Spencer.

Back at the library, hours went by, and the life of my grandparents became more three-dimensional. I remember contemplating not only Grandpa’s theology but the very places he had visited, pastored, and interceded for. Bath, Corning, Hornell, Elmira, Horseheads, East Bloomfield, Canandaigua, Rochester, Watertown, Dansville, Avoca, Reading Center, Red Creek, Binghamton, and Endwell—all of these towns or cities seemed to rest in New York’s Finger Lakes Region. It reminded me of the territory a Methodist Episcopal circuit rider may have traveled and overseen back in the early 1800s. But these places were very familiar to me in a more personal way, for several were communities in which my immediate family, including my parents and siblings, had visited, ministered, or pastored. A memory of a conversation I had had with my mother suddenly came to mind. She had told me how my grandfather would intercede for churches and workers as he drove down various highways and byways in his ever-unreliable vehicles. At those times, he had asked the Father for ministers to plant churches, people to receive Christ as Savior, and the Holy Spirit to be poured out in the various communities. I was gobsmacked, overwhelmed with the idea that Ivan and Minnie’s children and grandchildren were tracking over the physical and spiritual footsteps of their parents and grandparents respectively. Could it be that the ministries of their children and grandchildren were a result of their own intercession and seed-sowing?

The fact was my parents and siblings pioneered works along the same highways or routes upon which our grandparents had traveled and travailed.[10] They also resurrected works that they later discovered our grandparents had some hand in starting—albeit through prayer or encouraging or teaching the original pastors. One of my brothers-in-law even served as president of EBI while his wife, my sister, served in the leadership of EF. Another sister and her husband happened upon a letter our grandfather Spencer had written regarding the founding of the work they were involved in rebuilding. As for me, I married a man from Reading Center whose family may have been members of a Methodist Episcopal church that my grandfather pastored in 1915 to 1916. It was the very church that rejected Grandpa because of his preaching on healing and the gifts of the Spirit.

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2019

About the Author: Edie Mourey is the owner and editor for Furrow Press, a boutique self-publishing company. She is the youngest granddaughter of Ivan and Minnie Spencer, the founders of Elim Bible Institute & College and Elim Fellowship of Lima, New York. She authored Elim: Living in the Flow (1999) and compiled Faith: Living the Crucified Life (2008) and Daily Seedings: A Devotional Classic for the Spirit-Filled Life. Edie edits and writes in New York State’s Southern Tier where she, her husband, and daughter reside. Twitter: @EdieMou

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