“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” — 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
In one dramatic moment, Michael Ellison went from being a fit and healthy 50-year-old to being scared to death.
“I was running up the backside of (a) mountain in Scottsdale when suddenly a pain shot down my left arm,” he recalls. “It was burning and brought me to a halt. I sat on the trail and wondered if this was what plagued my father’s health and took my grandfather’s life at 41. Was this a heart attack?”
As it turned out, it wasn’t a heart attack, but a serious nervous condition that ended up robbing him of much of the quality and joy of life for half a year. There was nothing the physicians could offer but medication to help reduce the fire that raged in his body.
But then one day that well-known passage in the Bible launched the Pinnacle Forum Partner on a life-changing wellness journey.
“I remember clearly sitting on a chair in my office, pinching my left arm and saying, ‘You are God’s Temple. I will learn to nourish and nurture this temple… I will find the essentials of wellness, physical, emotional and spiritual wellness.”
“I had known fitness and performance but never wellness.” Michael explains. “I thought sleep was a waste of time. I urged and drove my body with adrenalin for 30 years doing God’s purpose and my passion in life, but had no understanding of the wellness to support that purpose.”
As he discovered simple yet highly effective wellness principles, he says, “my life was radically and wonderfully changed … and out of that experience I was overwhelmed with a desire to see others experience wellness.”
That desire led Michael in 1999 to create TriVita, a company designed, in his words, “to share the joys of wellness.” He built the company around what he calls the “The Ten Essentials of Wellness’:
- Breathe deeply
- Drink water
- Sleep peacefully
- Eat nutritiously
- Enjoy activity
- Give and receive love
- Be forgiving
- Practice gratitude
- Develop acceptance
- Develop a relationship with God
Today TriVita has offices in the U.S. and Canada, and more than three million people have purchased its array of specialized products. And five years ago, he established the TriVita Clinic of Integrative Medicine, which focuses on integrative health and whole-person care.
The search for true and total wellness was but one journey in Michael’s walk with Christ.
The son of a minister, Michael recalls wavering in his seemingly-solid faith, until, as he tells it, “a couple years of teenage meltdowns led me to a sincere conviction and spiritual experience that … brought me to my knees and a commitment of serving Christ in any capacity He would purpose for my life.”
He was about to head to India to share his faith when Uncle Sam called, and he was drafted into the Army. An accomplished athlete, he almost certainly was headed to Vietnam – until he booted due to a childhood bout with asthma.
“God had another purpose for my life and that anchored me to serve in the spiritual warfare for the well-being of souls while my buddies served a horrific and terrible war in Vietnam,” he says.
He ended up going to India, as well as several other countries – an experience he says God used to develop a purpose and vision for his life.
“I saw the incredible need of reaching people in greater mass,” he explains. “I saw the sacrifice of a seeker who would just walk through the doors of a Christian church to see if there was something there to fill the longing of their soul. They would be subject to abuse of losing their job, or cut off from family having broken devout religious traditions. I saw the opportunity that if we could share Christ through radio and television in their homes, they could be freer to develop their relationship with Christ and then make their public profession.”
That vision led Michael in 1971 – at age 25 — to launch Ellision Media Company in 1971. Over the next 35 years he worked with ministries and humanitarian groups to bring the Gospel to more than 100 countries. And he founded other organizations, including House of Giving, a nonprofit created to bring healing, health and hope to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.
Whether its bringing safe water to the deserts of Mexico or feeding malnourished adults and children in Africa or providing natural disaster relief in Haiti or helping people achieve wellness in America, it’s all part of God’s calling in Michael’s life.
And, he says, his Pinnacle Forum experience has been an encouragement.
“My life has been enriched with the fellowship of the forum format and the outstanding Partners that make up Pinnacle Forum,” he says. “Living the Christ-life in the marketplace and culture is a serious need, especially in the mountains of influence Pinnacle Forum has chosen. Many times Christians are fearful of rejection or humiliation, so strong leaders such as the Pinnacle Forum Partners, offer inspiration for others to live God-pleasing lives.”
He sees the networking and connection to other outstanding leaders and organizations as “an understated benefit of being a Partner” and cites as an example his own introduction to Marketplace Chaplains. “We developed a relationship and now our employees are served by caring Chaplains who come to our offices every week to encourage and care for our employees.”
Michael lists as one of his greatest challenges helping people understand those oft-quoted words in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians – and how living them out can result in true and total wellness.
He puts it this way:
“Who am I and why do I matter? The cultural influence is to accept the position that our bodies are our own and we can do with them as we please. The cultural influence is that food is for enjoying relationships and feelings, rather than being the fuel and energy to support the amazing body and purpose God has given us.”
Most of the pain and suffering – and 80 percent of health care costs – he says are due to poor daily lifestyle choices. And he adds, “the cultural influence of pharma that there is a pill for every ill is one of the greatest contributors to continued chronic diseases and has become a nightmare of multi-medications with serious side effects for our aging population.”
None of that can produce physical, emotional and spiritual wellness.
“Wellness is having the energy and vitality to do the meaningful and important things in your life — to have daily positive emotions of love, forgiveness, gratitude and acceptance, and to feel connected to God and His purposes for your life,” Michael writes on TruVita’s website. “We have an amazing body, and when it’s given the right balance of nutrients and nurturing, it can release the healing power within to optimize wellness.”
For more on Michael Ellison and his calling, listen to a podcast with PinnacleForum president and CEO, Guy Rodgers, at https://pinnacleforum.com/