NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A lesson in compassion isn’t something you expect from high school students.
But a group of 400 students from Nashville’s Christ Presbyterian Academy showed up outside the home of a cancer-stricken teacher to sing songs of worship when he could no longer teach.
Ben Ellis, who teaches Latin and Bible studies at the school, is battling an aggressive form of cancer.
He had been teaching until last week, working through his chemotherapy and radiation treatments because being at work helped him through it.
Last Wednesday, he was having a tough morning after getting some hard news the night before, said Nate Morrow, the school’s headmaster.
“The high school principal said, ‘Ben has loved us well. Stop what you’re doing, load up the buses. We’re going to his house to worship with him,’” Morrow told CNN.
The idea came because Ellis loves gathering people to sing.
“He found peace worshiping with others,” Morrow said.
In a video posted by musician Tim McGraw, the teacher is seen singing along to “Holy Spirit You are Welcome Here” with the students gathered outside his window.
“A friend sent this to me today,” McGraw wrote. “The entire student body (400+ students plus HS faculty) drove to his house to worship with him.”
The video has been viewed 18 million times since it was posted, and friends and family of Ellis have been posting their stories in the comments.
“Our children attend CPA and my high schoolers LOVES Mr. Ellis,” Shannon Lee Seibert wrote. “The kids were giving back to him some of the love he has given to them. He is the definition of a teacher, a role model, a servant.”
“Ben is my son,” Bob Ellis wrote. “Through his ministry and teaching, he has positively touched countless hundreds of lives directly and many thousands indirectly. He, his wife and children are a beautiful family.”
Ellis and his family, including his five children who all attend the academy, are deciding the best next steps.
Whatever it is, he has an outstanding support system, as demonstrated by the comments on McGraw’s video.Morrow said the message Ellis has for his students is to trust in God.
“He’s more sure about that now than ever.”