The day after Ella passed away, I was contacted by a co-worker asking if it would be okay for his church to establish a memorial fund to assist us in paying our medical bills. I kindly said, “No, I don’t want to do that, but, if you wanted to start a children’s ministry, I would support it 100%."
Towards the end of that same week, my cousin sent me an email stating that Ella’s name meant “torch” or “bright light” in the Hebrew and Greek languages respectfully. This gave me an idea. I contacted the two individuals heading up the Ella Marie Formby Children's Ministry and asked them to change the name to Ella’s Light: Children’s Ministry.
A few days before we had Ella’s funeral, I began researching ideas for a website, logo, and the possibility of creating a 501(c)3 (nonprofit) organization. I'd received several leads on a web designer and decided to wait until the next week to pursue them. So, after the funeral, I discussed the idea for the ministry with Julie and other family and friends. Everyone seemed to support it; however, I just couldn't seem to get the gears going on the project. There seemed to be dead ends at every turn. After a couple of weeks, I was still determined and felt that God was leading me to continue to push for the idea... AND it seemed that He was telling me to do it within 30 days!
On Monday, February 25, 2013, I received two disappointing phone calls from web designers who were unable to take on the project I had proposed. As I drove home from work that afternoon, I was feeling totally distraught and began crying. It was then God spoke to my spirit saying, “Lourie, if I can feed 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish, what can I do with this ministry in thirty days?” I remember saying out loud, “You’re right God!” I sheepishly looked around from my car to see if anyone heard me since my window was down.
When I arrived home, Julie had supper ready. We quietly ate, not really wanting to talk about anything. About 5:45 PM my cell phone rang. It was a very good friend of mine who was wanting to share something about the idea for the ministry. I told her I didn’t want to talk but did mention the website project had been turned down by two designers. I told her I would call her when I felt like talking and hung up the phone.
Within a minute my phone was ringing again, and I snatched it up almost disgusted that I had to answer. The call was from a guy in my home town asking me if I was still searching for a web designer. I replied, “Yes.”
He began explaining that his company built websites and designed logos for churches and other ministries, and that he would feel honored to assist me. After talking for almost 30 minutes, we agreed for him to proceed with the idea for Ella's Light. His graphic designer would create several logos, and we would go from there. I hung up the phone elated and could not wait to share this conversation with my wife, Julie. In the midst of that, the phone rang again. It was my friend calling back to apologize for upsetting me. When I told her what was going on she said, “Lourie, this is amazing because today is the 30th day since the accident!” ... I was dumbfounded.
The last week of February, we met with the church accountant to discuss and make plans for the donations they had received for the ministry. We thus began to pursue 501(c)3 status. That very afternoon, we also received a call from a tax attorney in Oxford, MS. She explained that she would assist us in setting up the incorporation of Ella’s Light and help file the 501(c)3 documents for nonprofit status.
God was absolutely affirming that He was blessing us and this ministry. Within 45 days of conception, we had incorporated the ministry, filed for nonprofit status, and begun building a foundation that would have the potential of reaching thousands of children in need of the love of Jesus Christ.