A cancer-stricken Nashville teacher who was serenaded by his students in a viral video shared by country star Tim McGraw has died.
Ben Ellis, a teacher at Christ Presbyterian Academy, died Friday morning, according to Nashville’s News Channel 5. The school announced his death in an email sent to parents.
“With deep sadness and a very heavy heart, I write to tell you that our beloved Ben Ellis has passed away. Since last December, millions of people around the world have prayed for Ben to be healed of his cancer. Today, Ben entered heaven fully healed; he is home,” the letter read, according to the news station.
Ellis’ story gained international attention after McGraw shared the video of the students’ touching tribute on his Facebook page. More than 400 students, faculty members and parents gathered outside his window to sing to him.
a friend sent this to me today. Ben Ellis is a Nashville area high school teacher battling cancer. 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.Posted by Tim McGraw on Saturday, September 10, 2016
The school’s headmaster, Nate Morrow, wrote in the email to parents that Ellis spoke to the students outside his window, telling them that he loved them all.
“I believe now, more than ever, that God is good, and that He is with us,” Ellis continued, according to the news station. “I am full of hope, peace and joy. I wish all of this for you. Look to Jesus to know, to believe and to be filled.”
News Channel 5 reported that Ellis was diagnosed nine months ago with an aggressive form of cancer. He and his family had decided recently to discontinue his treatment.
In the six days since McGraw posted the video, it has been viewed more than 29 million times and shared more than 565,000 times. Ellis’ father, Bob Ellis, thanked McGraw in the comments for sharing his son’s story.
“Thank you, Tim,” Bob Ellis wrote. “Ben is my son. Through his ministry and teaching, he has positively touched countless hundreds of lives directly and many thousands indirectly. He, his wife and children are a beautiful family.”
Leslie Ponder, an English teacher at the school, wrote on Facebook that the plan was hatched on the "spur of the moment." Students and faculty took buses to Ellis' home to sing hyms to him. According to the school's website, Ellis taught middle and high school Latin and Bible.
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