John & Mary Ellen Saunders
John and Mary Ellen met in college and fell in love over deep philosophical conversations about the existence of God and just about everything else. Shortly after meeting, they became involved with a ministry that taught keys to understanding the Bible. They grew in Biblical knowledge and did their best to apply it, and God blessed their love for Him even though they lived a highly left-brained, “know more, do more”, performance-oriented Christianity. They raised four wonderful children. John worked in the corporate world while also being a lay pastor. Mary Ellen led a variety of small group studies for all ages.
Over time, they saw others being stuck and had a growing sense they also were stuck, not experiencing the transformation and power God promised. They began to search for what might be missing. This led them to learn about other’s powerful experiences with healing prayer. Finally, personal experiences with healing prayer caused them to have hope.
Through a local Christian radio station, Mary Ellen heard a counselor describe using Immanuel Prayer in his practice. In an interview, he commented that it would be a topic of the Life Model Works annual conference being held at a church two miles from their home. She thought “It will never be easier to learn more.” She and John attended and “the rest is history”. Their experiences there caused them to press in, taking their first Thrive Premier Training in July 2015. At that training, they began to discover a God who was glad to be with them, and the joy and blessing that comes from adding emotional maturity and relational skills to the Christian walk.
Since then, they have attended almost every Thrive Premier Training either as students, volunteers, or instructors. One of their specialties is leading tambourines for the Davidic dancing. They continue to return because they see Immanuel doing His transformative work in the students and in their own lives.
They have been Journey Group members almost since their inception. Mary Ellen has shared materials with her family and faith community and led on-line book studies and Journey Groups. They are board members of Thrive Today and Alive & Well.
John and Mary Ellen’s growth has had a positive impact on their adult children, who grew up with parents sadly lacking in relational skills and emotional maturity. God has been gracious to redeem the past and is still doing a work in their marriage and family to grow deeper love bonds. They are also working to understand capacity and how to balance the demands and opportunities life presents as they move into the elder stage.
Their joy and calling is to help infuse what they have learned and experienced into their faith community, the body of Christ, and the world.