Ben Ellis, a well-loved high school teacher who taught Latin and Bible studies at Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, died from cancer Friday, just days after 400 students showed up at his residence to sing songs of worship, CNN News is reporting.
Ben Ellis had been teaching at the school since 2008, but in 2015, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The Tennessee teacher had continued to teach students despite his radiation and chemotherapy treatments. He admitted that teaching helped him get through it.
Ellis was still teaching at the Christ Presbyterian Academy until last month. When the staff and students heard he had stopped coming to school, the high school principal rallied everyone to head to his house and show how much he meant to them.
“Ben has loved us well. Stop what you’re doing, load up the buses. We’re going to his house to worship with him.”
English teacher Leslie Ponder said it was a “spur of the moment” decision, revealing that students were in the middle of classes and even tests, when they left everything for a much important lesson in love, life, compassion and community.
Over 400 students gathered in Ellis’ driveway and front lawn to sing “Holy Spirit You are Welcome Here.” A highly emotional Willis with tears in his eyes watched the beautiful tribute from his window with his wife and joined in the chorus.
The touching Facebook video has since gone viral and has been watched more 30 million times since it was posted. More than 1 million people have “liked” the video. Thousands of people also left get-well wishes for the cancer-stricken teacher.
Even country star Tim McGraw acknowledged the Nashville high school teacher who was battling cancer on his Facebook page.
“The entire student body (400 +students plus HS faculty) drove to his house to worship with him…our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family…so precious and kind.”
The principal of the school has said that Ben Ellis’ death would be celebrated and not mourned. He described the teacher as a gift they all enjoyed in a “life-giving and unassuming away,” noting that even when he knew his cancer was terminal, he kept on encouraging people to give their lives to Christ.
The principal confirmed this in an email he sent to parents after the teacher’s death, revealing that Ben Ellis was without a doubt in Heaven.
“Ben entered Heaven fully healed; he is home.”
Before Ellis died on Friday, he took out time to write how he felt after all the students serenaded outside his bedroom window.
“I felt unity. I’m not alone. Joy. Peace. I also felt much loved; I already felt loved by God, but it was extra meaningful that God poured his love out to me through 500 people who loved me so well.”
Ben’s father Bob Ellis thanked Tim McGraw for sharing the touching tribute.
“Thank you, Tim. Ben is my son. Through his ministry and teaching, he has positively touched countless hundreds of lives directly and many thousands indirectly.”
According to the Coloradoan, a capella choir at his alma mater sang a beautiful tribute of their own for the 1984 Fort Collins High School graduate. They were joined by his former classmates, friends and family. His niece Amanda, who also attends Fort Collins High School, was part of the singing.
Ben Ellis was in a group called Tower Singers during his high school days. The school choir agreed it was only right to dedicate a glowing tribute to a man who impacted the lives of many.
Ben Ellis had stopped his cancer treatment and planned on entering hospice care when staffers and students showed up at his home.
Ben Ellis was 50-years-old. He left behind a wife and five kids.
A GoFundMe Page has been opened to help with his burial arrangements.
[Featured Image by Tasha Tuvanju/Shutterstock]