Ian ‘Ity’ Ellis shows his spiritual side
Ian 'Ity' Ellis basks in the spotlight when it comes to his comedic career. He doesn't see himself as the most talented, but accepts the blessings God has bestowed on him, that his comedic materials find favour with listening ears.
But while he sets about making people laugh and giving them happiness for a short while, there was no escaping that disquiet within him for something else.
For Ellis, there wasn't a "defining" moment when he knew things had to change. it was more, as he termed it, "a collection of moments" which started more than 20 years ago.
"I grew up with my childhood friend, Lynval Lewis, along with my other friends, Pie and Fancy Cat. Pie died untimely as a young policeman and Lynval (Marky) became a pastor, while Fancy Cat and I found comedy. After Marky became a pastor, our friendship drifted and I became closer to Fancy Cat," explained Ellis.
Like most people, his church attendance was limited to the traditional "special days of the year".
"I would always attend Marky's church, the Greater Portmore Tabernacle Church."
A few years ago, Ellis started coming under conviction, but still refused to see it for what it was. His friend noticed, though, and encouraged him to visit church more often.
That was easier to do since Ellis had moved back to live in Portmore with his family.
Last year, when his wife and youngest daughter got baptised, Ellis said he lost the zeal. His eldest daughter got baptised also, leaving them with a divided family when it came to church.
Late last year, the conviction came back, but with a vengeance. Ellis had a strong need to make a total commitment to the Lord.
New Year, new footing
And what better way to make his intention clear than to start the new year on a right footing. He was baptised on January 1. "That date is very important to me as I became both engaged and married to my lovely wife on those dates in 1997 and 1998, respectively. So on the 18th-year anniversary of my marriage, another event, the most special event in my life - my baptism ceremony on Boardwalk Beach by Pastor Lynval Lewis," revealed Ellis.
In retrospect, Ellis said somehow, he always felt that giving his life to Christ would come after some drama or a single one-off story. There was nothing like that for him. He even quizzed his pastor as he asked about his drama-testimony.
His pastor and friend simply told him, "You are blessed by God Almighty and your testimony is what God has prevented you from and not what has happened to you."
Although Ity and his performing partner Fancy Cat are not known for vulgar material, he said the changes in his life will be reflected in his presentations.
'now a man of God'
"I am now a man of God, so you will now see inserted in our presentations some aspects of Christianity. In fact, we have always told some Christian-type jokes, where we impersonate the stereotypical Jamaican pastor. I am blessed to have a career which is, for the most part, PG 13 and family oriented, making the transition easier than if my career was one filled with vulgarity," he said.
Armed with his new-found faith, Ellis said the message he will be sharing with his friends and others is simple. he will tell them he sees Christianity as black and white.
"If you don't choose God, you're choosing what is against Him. If you don't choose God, which is light, you are then choosing darkness. It is really just a choice."
It's a choice, he said, everyone will eventually have to make for himself or herself.
Regarding his best friend, Fancy Cat, he said he wants to do the exact thing his pastor did to him.
"Just live his life according to God. He always invited me to Church, but his approach was kind of passive. He never pressured or forced me, and that encouraged my journey with God to happen naturally."
Now basking in his full and free salvation, Ellis has one final appeal and that is to remind us that as humans, we have no idea what will happen from one minute to the next.
"We can tell you everything about yesterday and this very moment, but we don't know what is going to happen in the next minute. My perspective is that we love life. Every single one of us loves this precious gift called life and because we love life, we try everything to sustain it. We try to sustain youth, especially because we just want life to be everlasting. If you want life to be everlasting, God Almighty tells you that in order to achieve this, you should live life according to His will."
For the new convert, he is enjoying knowing that he is trying to live a life of righteousness.
"If you live righteously, it impacts all aspects of your life, such as how you deal with the law of the country, fellow citizens, and family."