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Following in His Steps

We simply went where we were called or sent by the Father.

None of us ever set out to follow Ivan and Minnie Spencer in a specific way, per se. Follow their godly examples and dedicated lives of service, yes, we wanted to do that. We endeavored to yield to the will of the Father and obediently follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Like other young believers coming of age and moving into adulthood, we were set on making our mark and even blazing our own trails if need be. We most certainly were not sitting around and wondering, Where did Mom and Pop Spencer pastor? Should we start a work there? Is this where Grandpa and Grandma Spencer served in a pastorate? Should we continue what they began? Instead, we simply went where we were called or sent by the Father.

Twenty years have passed since I did research in the library for what became titled Elim: Living in the Flow. Within that time, I have compiled two other works resulting from my initial research, namely Faith: Living the Crucified Life (2008) and Daily Seedings: A Devotional Classic for the Spirit-Filled Life (2008). And after all that writing, I must confess my inner genealogist jumped into the hunt for my grandparents’ ancestry a few years ago. I discovered Ivan Spencer was eight generations in from pioneering stock. His first ancestor on this continent was one Gerard Spencer who is recognized as one of the “Four Spencer Brothers” from England. These brothers came to America in the 1630s during the Puritan migration and settlement of New England. Ivan’s eighth-great grandfather Gerard is even listed as one of the first settlers of Haddam, Connecticut.

Ivan and Minnie Spencer in 1930.

As I tracked the continued migration of the Spencer family, I witnessed them moving to New York and then to Providence, Pennsylvania, and later to Bradford County, Pennsylvania, where Grandpa Spencer was born. They cut down great pine trees, hefted roots from the ground, and plowed and planted fields along the way. I continued to find names of towns and cities that I knew well. These included locations in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania—all places in which my immediate family stayed, played, prayed, and ministered. I was reminded once again of how we may walk in the steps of our ancestors without even knowing it or intending to do so. The scriptures that came to my mind, though, told of an intentionality in followership. I thought of Hebrews 13:7—“Don’t forget the example of your spiritual leaders who have spoken God’s messages to you, take a close look at how their lives ended, and then follow their walk of faith.”[11] I remembered Hebrews 12:1–3, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it.”[12] But where was our intentionality, or where, for example, was our fifth-great grandfather’s intentionality? I knew of none.

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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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