“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
These two verses defined the hearts of Richard G. and Elizabeth K. Ellis. This couple desired to serve the Lord through active participation in their local church, First Baptist Church of Rockford, Illinois. For much of their lives, they were faithful to this church. They actively supported the church through prayer, finances, and participation in church activities.
Richard Ellis passed away in 1993. His life partner and partner in ministry was saddened that he was no longer by her side, but she rejoiced in the fact that he was in Heaven where she would meet him. Mrs. Ellis wanted people to remember her husband for his selfless participation in the Lord’s work. In December 1993, she gave Maranatha Baptist Bible College $750 in memory of her late husband. The Ellis family was interested in helping young people who sought higher education become better servants of the Lord. In response to their love for young people, Elizabeth Ellis decided to donate to Maranatha and two other Christian colleges.
Not long after her initial gift to Maranatha, she sent an additional $12,000 and stated in her letter that Maranatha should determine how to use the gift as long as it would meaningfully benefit as many students as possible. Mrs. Ellis also added the provision that the gift would forever be a memorial to her husband. Thus began the Richard G. Ellis Memorial Scholarship.
Mrs. Ellis passed away in 2003, but included the scholarship in her estate plans, which enables annual awards to several students who demonstrate a heart for the ministry through hard work and local church involvement. The official scholarship description reads, “The purpose of the Richard G. Ellis Memorial Scholarship is to provide an award to students seeking to serve the Lord full-time in church-related ministries.”
Many students have benefited from this scholarship over the years. Elisabeth Hettinga, the 2016 recipient and a Biblical Counseling major writes the following, “I am the fourth child in my family of ten living on one income. All eight of us children studied stringed instruments, so you can imagine that my family was not able to save money for college. Receiving scholarships such as the Ellis Memorial Scholarship provided me the opportunity to come to Maranatha. If it were not for this scholarship, I do not think I would have been able to come back to school after my first year. I returned and ended up traveling as a member of the Heritage Singers team this past summer. Being a student at MBU has been such an amazing part of my life and I am so thankful for scholarships that allow me to attend this school.”
The recipients of this scholarship are obviously thankful for the financial assistance. But, more importantly, God has been seen through the sacrifice and generosity of the Ellis family. Their goal of educating the next generation of Christian leaders is being met.