It started with a car…
It all started with a car; a 1933 Alvis Speed 20 Sports Tourer and a young English man called Peter Horrobin who loved classic cars. He especially loved old Alvis cars, but he couldn’t imagine being able to afford a Speed 20 of his own. Not until one glorious day in 1970, when a friend from the Alvis Owners Club phoned to ask, “Would you like to buy an Alvis Speed 20 for £50?” Oh yes he would!
But why was it so cheap? Well, unfortunately it had been stolen, crashed, vandalised, set on fire and dumped in the River Mersey! But the friend had arranged its rescue, recognising it for the special car that it was, even in that broken state.
Peter was thrilled to purchase his own Alvis Speed 20 and began to strip down the car to the bare chassis. At about 4.00am one morning, after a night working in the garage, he made an awful discovery – the chassis was bent. The car could never be driven safely with a bent chassis and he began to think that he would never be able to restore this lovely old car. And then, out of the blue, at that moment of terrible realisation, Peter became very aware of God speaking to him, there in the garage.
Cars or people?
Quite clearly, Peter heard the Lord say “You could restore this broken car, but I can restore broken lives. Which is more important? Broken cars or broken people?” Peter wanted to say the broken car! But he knew that was the wrong answer! His compassionate heart responded to what God was saying and he never forgot the moment when God said to him “I can restore broken lives”.
Over the next ten years or so, he ran his own publishing company and among other things became Chairman of the local Inter-Church Fellowship. As a child Peter had sensed a call from God to serve Him in full-time ministry, but somehow the Lord didn’t seem to open any doors or lead him to be ordained. He even started to wonder if he had missed the destiny God had for his life.
Then one day he received another phone call. The caller was another member of the Inter-Church Fellowship – Sister Aine. She needed his advice. A woman had come to her at the hospice where she worked who was terribly distressed. Sister Aine didn’t know how to help. Peter agreed to come but the poor woman was sobbing so much that she couldn’t speak, so neither Peter nor Sister Aine had any idea what the real problem was.
However, as they prayed, God supernaturally revealed to Peter the exact nature of the problem and the distressed lady was amazed. They were able to pray for her effectively and she received both God’s healing touch and a glorious reassurance that the Lord really did know her and care for her. She had begun her journey of healing.
As Peter drove home that night, he again sensed the Lord speaking to him, saying “I want you to spend the rest of your life bringing healing to those in need and teaching others how to do the same”. In that moment he also remembered the night when God had spoken to him with the Alvis and suddenly it all began to make sense. It was the same voice. The call of God was unmistakable.
Are you willing?
He started to pray about the vision God had given but immediately encountered a problem. He couldn’t pray! It was as if heaven had suddenly closed its gates and prayer was no longer possible. After some time of frustration, he eventually came to the end of his own efforts and heard the still small voice of the Father saying, “Before I can let you pray into this vision, you need to know that walking with me in obedience may cost you everything you have and everything you are. Are you willing?” Slowly, step by step, the Lord took him through every area of his life – home, family, possessions, status, reputation, hobbies etc. God did not say he would lose any of these; He just asked whether he was willing to. It was only when victory had been won in every area that he was at peace and able to start praying about the call to bring healing to God’s people.
Praying every day
From that point on Peter prayed every day about the vision. He studied the Scriptures diligently, seeking for a biblical understanding of how to bring God’s healing. As he studied, he identified many of God’s key principles for healing, such as forgiving those who harm us, repentance from sin, God’s acceptance of us as his children, God’s heart for restoring us after failure, a Christian’s spiritual armour for protection and so on.
As Peter continued to seek God, a committed group of people eventually gathered regularly to pray with him for the establishment of this healing ministry which God had called him into. As they prayed, they felt the Lord wanted a Christian healing centre to be established in the northwest of England – and this vision burned in their hearts as they prayed for it year after year.
A home for the Ministry
The vision was finally realised in 1986 when agreement was reached with the owners to buy a large country house near Lancaster, called Ellel Grange. An appeal went out and many churches and individuals responded with gifts and loans.
One couple who knew nothing about Peter’s vision were given their own vision about a healing ministry that was going to be established in the area. The Lord showed them individually what the building looked like and they made their own drawings. But their drawings were completely different! The next morning a copy of the Ellel Grange appeal brochure arrived in the post showing the very building they had drawn on paper. The wife’s vision had been of the rear of Ellel Grange while her husband’s had been of the front!
There were a number of such stories, including a lady who had a vision of the chimneys. She saw thick black smoke pouring out of them. God told her that the smoke represented all the dirt and mess He was going to clean out of people’s lives through the ministry that would take place there. Her vision was so detailed and specific that she drove all the way to Ellel Grange to compare the real chimneys with those God had shown her. They were exactly the same!
The team were greatly encouraged by these confirmations and continued to pray. On the completion date, when the full amount had to be paid to buy Ellel Grange, Peter sat at his desk to find out whether he had enough money. He could hardly believe what he saw! On one side of his piece of paper was a list of everything needed for the purchase, together with all the expenses to date, and on the other side was all the income received from gifts and loans. The income exceeded the costs by just £6! God had done it, Ellel Grange was purchased, and the work of Ellel Ministries started with great rejoicing on 31 October 1986.
God interviews the team!
A healing ministry needs people to counsel, pray and love those who come. Once the small team had settled in, it was time to invite those who had expressed an interest in being part of the ministry team to come for an interview. A special training and selection weekend was held in February 1987.
Peter had been studying the book of Nahum in his devotions and as he walked down the staircase at Ellel Grange to speak at the Sunday morning service, the Lord spoke and said, “It’s the book of Nahum this morning”. Peter had planned to speak on something else, but he put that aside and taught from Nahum, which is not a well-known book of the Bible, but it does contain key lessons about spiritual warfare, such as Nahum 1:3 (GNB) “Where the Lord walks, storms arise.“
As soon as he finished speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on the place. People started to weep in repentance, putting their lives right with a holy God. Others cried out or fell on the floor and received deliverance and healing. For some it was a time of deep intimacy with the Lord, when He called them into the ministry. God’s presence was so strong and so heavy on them that many couldn’t do anything but respond to Him for many hours.
Some people arrived late, unaware of what had been happening. But before they could get to the meeting room they were on their knees in the foyer, crying out to God. The people in the kitchen couldn’t make the lunch because of the presence of God! It seemed like something out of the day of Pentecost – God was cleansing and preparing His people.
It was well into the night before God’s holy presence lifted, although for days afterwards people who came into Ellel Grange could sense that something significant had happened. Almighty God had sent his fire to cleanse His people from the inside out. No interviews were needed! There were some who felt uncomfortable with this experience and chose not to come back, but those whom the Lord was calling to the ministry received their own commissioning from Him and knew they were called. God had done the selection of the initial ministry team His way and put His seal on the ministry. It was a dramatic and unforgettable weekend.
Finding the keys
The team of prayer ministers which formed that day started a journey in which there were many, many blessings, but also many trials and tests. They learned much from others already experienced in the healing ministry and through perseverance and faithful resilience they also learned their own lessons in how to set people free. The Lord revealed keys to healing through their patient, persistent work with one person at a time. There were victories and failures. There were times when they wanted to give up. But they refused to accept that anyone’s problem could be too hard for God, however deeply broken the person was.
Eventually there were major breakthroughs. The Lord showed them where the keys could be found in His Word for deep healing of individuals and how to apply them. These were shared with God’s people through training courses and, later, on longer-term residential schools. New Centres were started in the UK and then around the world in response to the requests from people who said “we need this ministry where we live!” As more keys were found, the number of courses increased, books were written and even an online training programme called Ellel 365 was developed. These hard-won keys for personal freedom can be yours too.
What happened to the Alvis?
What about the Alvis? Was it dumped? Certainly not! Peter wrote to the manufacturers and obtained a copy of the blueprint from which the car was produced. Using this he was able to get the chassis heat-treated, straightened and restored. Peter’s time was largely taken up by the ministry, but he still managed to work on his beloved Alvis occasionally.
God restores people in the same way – we may believe there isn’t too much wrong with us, or we may even think we’ve been broken beyond repair. But our Father has the blueprint. He made you and He knows how to restore every part of you. It may take time, it may cost something, but each person is far more precious to God than Peter’s Alvis car was to him. The Alvis is just a picture of God’s desire to restore you, even if you are not in great shape right now! He gets right to the foundations, to the roots of the problem. He rescues, He restores and He makes new. One day Peter hopes to drive his restored Alvis on a tour of Ellel Ministries centres, but just now, together with the rest of the team, he’s busier seeing God restore people!