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Relevents: Ester Ellen Nelson

Ester Ellen Nelson, project manager for The Whole World Mobilizing (TWWM) campaign at the Salvation Army’s International Headquarters in London, talks about light in Iceland, youth involvement in the Church, and the challenges of being a long–distance grandmother.


London is the first big city I’ve lived in, and it’s fascinating. I grew up in Choteau, Montana. For the past 10 years, I lived in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Both were small and secluded places. But here in London, I have access in one place to everything I could ever need. I also love London’s spring weather. A springtime experience is rare in a place like Iceland. Now in London, I’m seeing flowers bloom for the first time in a decade.


Through TWWM, we’re getting youth involved in The Salvation Army. All around the world, we’ve seen them lead services and devotionals, help in their neighborhoods, and express themselves and their love for Christ. It was a blessing to see the youth from the Reykjavik Corps—my home corps in Iceland—be a part of TWWM. I was seven years old when I started going there. My parents did not attend church, so there was no one to guide me to Christ, tell me that He loved me, and show me how I could be part of the church. It’s important to give children such guidance and opportunity. I know, so personally what was missing from my past, so I take joy in providing those things for others.


Recently, I read a great book called Indelible Ink. The author, Scott Larson, spoke to 22 prominent Christian authors and asked them which book, besides the Bible, had inspired them the most. A few authors mentioned books that I know and love, such as The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Other titles were old and out of print, but I made certain to search for these recommendations. Reading Indelible Ink expanded my education and walk with God.


I have three amazing children. My oldest is Shad Christian, my middle is Joseph Socrates, and my youngest is Lilia Olsk. Shad is living in the United States. He and his wife just had Keegan Xavier, my first grandchild. I love seeing him through Skype and social media. The difference in time and space makes being a grandmother a bit difficult. Shad is great at sending updates on what Keegan is doing, but I get lots of pictures of Keegan just sleeping. Fortunately, Lilia and I are making plans to travel soon to the U.S. to see him.


John 12:46 says “I am here to bring light in this world, freeing everyone who believes in Me from the darkness that blinds him” (VOICE). It does not matter who we are, or what we have done in the past. If we are repentant and willing to go forward, Jesus’ light is waiting for us. I also have a personal connection with light. When I lived in Iceland, I didn’t see much light in the winter. When the light finally appeared after months of cold, dark, rainy weather, it did amazing things for the surroundings. I saw new colors and shades that I could not see before, and the world became a different place, just as when I received the light of Jesus.

interview by Hugo Bravo

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