This is Part 2 of the story of L.E. Maxwell. Read Part 1 here.
2022 is Prairie College’s 100th year. Along with our students in chapel, we have been looking back at the roots of Prairie, and at the people and the practices that have made Prairie what it is today. Our starting point has to be the story of L.E. Maxwell, the founder of one of Canada’s oldest Bible Colleges. This was written and presented by Ruth Maxwell, a granddaughter, who lived with her grandparents for 4 years.
The school continued to grow and so did L.E.’s responsibilities. L.E. understood the importance of everyone who poured into Prairie. Therefore his esteem and gratitude for staff, students, donors, alumni, parents, and friends of Prairie was immense. “What would we do without our friends!” he often said. He never tired of hearing about and being with these people because he knew God had brought them, other average people, to Prairie.
Galatians 2:20 was his life verse, it continuously challenged and shaped him throughout his life. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. His book “Born Crucified” had a worldwide impact and was the essence of what he lived and taught. L.E. encouraged hundreds of his students to embrace the crucified life and to reach the unreached for Jesus through missionary work. Yet, he understood that not all were led by God to go overseas, including LE and Pearl themselves. Obedience to God’s call was what mattered, whatever the cost and wherever the path led.
L.E. encouraged hundreds of his students to embrace the crucified life
L.E. loved studying and teaching God’s word. I think Romans was his favorite book. His study of Scripture was paired with extensive reading on other books on many topics. He embraced all opportunities to preach and share God’s word with great zeal and fervour. This included teaching classes at Prairie, weekly Radio messages, and summer travel throughout North America and the world as a sought after Bible speaker.
L.E. loved his family. L.E. and Pearl had 7 children and 23 grandchildren. Seeing his grandchildren also becoming students to Prairie warmed his heart. All 7 of his children spent some years of their lives in Christian ministry, some as long term missionaries and others in local church work.
What L.E. named as the “biggest shock of his life” came on January 30, 1982, when his eldest son and daughter-in-law, Ernest and Freeda were killed on an icy road near Valleyview, Alberta. It took several days for him to be able to say this, but as Jesus journeyed with him, he was able to say: “There has to be something worse than having a firstborn son in Heaven.” Then he turned to his grandchildren and said, “When your Mother and Father forsake you, unintentional though it be, the Lord will take you up.” He wanted them to know God would fill the gap and provide their hope.
The Maxwell home was his haven, his Pearl always present. In 1977, the role of President was turned over to his son Paul Maxwell. L.E. taught till he was 84 years of age, teaching his last Romans class in 1980. Eventually L.E. became bedridden with Parkinson’s. He struggled with walking, with a feeling of being alone, and with pain. His wife and a team of faithful men cared for L.E. throughout the progression of this disease until he passed away in their home on campus, Feb 4, 1984 at the age of 88.
“Out there is a world who needs the Gospel. They need to see the life of Christ by the Spirit of God lived out in you.”
What might L.E. say in this Centennial Year? Perhaps something similar that he said to the grads in 1955. “Out there is a world who needs the Gospel. They need to see the life of Christ by the Spirit of God lived out in you. Make your choices to find and address the greatest needs of the world and maintain those choices. If there are some who cannot go overseas, and there are good, valid, God-given reasons why you should not go, may the Lord keep you here! And may He make you more usable here then you would be there. Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ until the King says, ‘Well done!’”
Ruth Maxwell, (1977), is a granddaughter of L.E. Maxwell, daughter of Ernest and Freeda Maxwell, and sister to Mark and Elaine Maxwell. At Prairie she developed a heart for discipleship. During 36 years with SIM, she has engaged in discipleship, mentoring, coaching, member care, and leader care. Seeing God continue His good work through Prairie and Prairie grads reminds her of God’s astounding faithfulness.
Watch Ruth’s message to the 21/22 students below.