Two years ago we introduced readers to John Essy, in an article titled God Rocked My World. John is a Charis Bible College graduate, and he is the founder of John Essy Ministries (JEM) located in State College, Pennsylvania. At the time of our first article about John, JEM was a para-church organization, but for the past 12 months John's ministry focus has shifted and he now leads a gathering of believers called, Charis Church. While the perception of his ministry has changed, his focus and role have not; he ministers the Word, prays and shares God's merciful love and grace with the people of State College.
When John and his wife Leslie left Colorado to step into ministry in the Keystone State, planting and pastoring a church was the last thing on John's mind. However, as the years went by, he sensed the Lord refocusing the direction of his ministry. John first began to entertain thoughts of starting a church at the end of 2011, but he was reluctant to make the change and dismissed the idea, blaming it on his imagination. The prompting to plant a church not only remained, but it continued to grow. John finally acknowledged that the idea may be the Lord's. Conscious of his commitment to do whatever God asked of him, John said, "Okay Lord, I think this is you. I will start a church if that is what you want me to do."
Three days later a close friend of John's, who operates proficiently in the prophetic, approached him and said, “The Lord told me to tell you that it is time for you to start a church.” At that point, John said it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that he should move forward and start a church.
In February of 2012, John launched Charis Church in State College. In the early going, John ministered to a small, but steady crowd of 15 regular attendees. By early autumn the church was meeting in a hotel conference room, and the base of regular attendees had doubled. Growth continued and at the end of 2012, a Christian business woman recognized John's need for more space and offered the use of a large multipurpose room in her business complex. At the beginning of 2013, John and Charis Church moved into the new space. Charis' new facility can accommodate 200 people.
Many of those in John's congregation are people who had previously stopped attending church for one reason or another. Often these people are the ones John sees break free from the bondage of religion when they receive the true Gospel of grace. He views the ones who find the freedom, as those who will be leaders in the church. "My vision is to establish these leaders in the grace message, for the next year or so, and then send them out to do the work of the ministry in the heart of our city," John said.
Most of his congregation loves the grace message, and John can see them growing by leaps and bounds in their relationships with the Lord, but John is also aware of some resistance in those new to grace. John said, "The true Gospel of grace, preached in its purest form, can be offensive to anyone who has even a little religion in them. For instance, I recently preached that sin does not stop the power of God from moving in a person’s life, no matter how big the sin—even adultery. I said that people can get healed even if they are having an adulterous relationship. You preach a message like that and you will have resistance. But like it or not, that’s the Gospel."
Although in appearance, John's ministry has taken on a new face, that of a church, his job description hasn't changed much in the crossover. He considers the shift an expansion of ministry he was already doing, only now he focuses on teaching in one location. The church posts most of John's Sunday messages on their website, so in essence, he is still bringing the Word to all who will listen, he's simply traveling via the internet.