Greg Elliott is not who he once was.
Today he’s happily married to his teen sweetheart. Together they have three grown children who have always made them very proud.
Greg has enjoyed a satisfying and successful career as an exhibit designer, illustrator, and art director. For most of this period, he was a self-employed artist serving businesses and public relations agencies.
The words “happy” and “satisfying” only became relevant to his life after the renovation of the Boarding House—his heart and mind. Prior to that, the house of his youth and early manhood was a structure of fear, anger, hurt, and jealousy.
A really bad decision one dark night was detoured by God’s intercession, which started Greg’s quest for a new life. This led to involvement in the church, where he met wonderful people who helped and encouraged him. To his surprise, he also met many who admitted to only having a surface familiarity with the Bible.
He also came to recognize that a lot of men, both in and out of the church, struggle in individual, yet similar ways to what brought him to his own crisis point. Greg’s desire to help led to his participation with ministry groups for men and involvement with the Promise Keepers organization.
During this time, Greg was introduced to writing for publication. His column about church life, Lambs & Wolves, was published in the Niagara Anglican newspaper for approximately eight years. Eventually, he felt a call to share the journals he kept during his renewal experience, thus producing New Life in the Boarding House.
His hope is that this over-the-shoulder look at his spiritual journey will encourage young (and older) men to release their grip on doubt and resistance so they, too, can accept the new life God will bless them with.
WAP: What is New Life in the Boarding House about?
GE: I once thought of the Bible as a book of antiquities suitable for collecting dust on a shelf in the fiction department of a library. At the same time, my life seemed out of control, and an unidentified spot deep within me cried desperately for a new life. Circumstances pushed my nose into a Bible, which I now see as a relevant time traveler in whom I met God and found my new life. I want to let other men know that it’s possible, and share with them how it happened for me.
WAP: Why did you write it?
GE: I didn’t start out to write a book. Before reluctantly starting on my trip through the Bible, I was advised to keep notes on what I thought or felt while reading. Fortunately, I did that. In fact, I produced a stack of scribbler notebooks.
After my involvement with my church community began, I became involved with men’s small groups. As my own relationship with Jesus matured, I found myself talking with men who were facing problems similar to mine, so I was able to help them. This led to a day when I felt the call to lift my experience out of those scribblers and share them with other men. This became New Life in the Boarding House.
WAP: Who would be interested in reading it?
GE: We live in a time and society where our accomplishments have convinced us that we are the result of science, and now we can control science. Increasingly, the institutions and practices of the world have abandoned God’s Word. We understand ourselves in the natural but know little about our spiritual needs. The experience I’ve written about has proven to me that our unbelief doesn’t negate God’s love, presence, and reality. I think there are many people, both inside and outside the church, who live each day with a quiet sense of questioning—or emptiness—and they want to find hope and assurance. This book is for them.
WAP: Is it only for men?
GE: Not at all, though it is written from a male perspective. My own experience, and those I have witnessed or listened to, tell me that the problems I faced can be common to both men and women. I also realize that sometimes a woman is better able to understand the man in her life through seeing another man’s inner challenges. Sometimes, too, it is a wife, sister, or girlfriend who finds and points her guy to something that may help him.
WAP: Do you have to know something about the Bible before you read it?
GE: Absolutely not. I didn’t know anything about it when I started the experience, and I mention how it was necessary to use a daily reading guide to figure out what to read. I think my writing shows how I stumbled initially with trying to find the suggested verses. Engaging with the Holy Spirit in prayer did the rest. Having said that, I hope someone familiar with the Bible will be able to see and experience it with fresh eyes after reading my book.
WAP: Do you use a lot of theological terms?
GE: No, this is written with a layman’s vocabulary, but on a foundation of good theology. I avoided “church” language where possible.
WAP: What does the image on the cover represent?
GE: A young man with a tattoo holding a Bible isn’t a typical or expected image. It represents a situation most of us expect couldn’t happen. The tattooed or “inked” arm, while becoming more mainstream in recent years, indicates an attitude or set of values outside the norm in society, and certainly outside most church communities today. The image does, I hope, also represent something that most of us as Christ’s followers know can—and hope will—happen.
Greg R. Elliott is a happily married father of three. In his early years, he worked at Canadian Tire and drove school buses by day while attending art school at night. Starting as a sign painter, he later became a museum designer for the Ontario government. When his new life began, he opened his own studio where he painted custom cars and outdoor murals, illustrated children’s books, and served as contract art director for public relations and advertising agencies. He also became deeply involved in youth and adult Christian education. More recently, he has served as the director of media services for The Gideons.