It was early summer in 1993. I was presenting my vision for a new congregation in a mountain community outside of Denver, Colorado. My wife, Karen, and I had gathered about eight people in a local restaurant and, by all accounts, our meeting had been successful. All of those in attendance had agreed to consider being part of the new congregation. Among those in attendance was a recently widowed woman with a winning smile and a twinkle in her eye. She told us she had been praying for someone like us to come into this mountain community and start a church. Therefore, she was very excited about the vision we presented. That woman was Jeanne Elsner.

After a 3-year sabbatical Karen and I were re-entering full time ministry. I had come to the Lord with specific request as we approached this new threshold. I asked for partners who would be more than volunteers and financial donors. I wanted real partners who would join us in the work. Among those I asked for were intercessors. I refused to ever again be caught out on the field of battle without air support. If God were calling my family and me back into full time ministry, He would have to supply intercessors. I wanted people who would be willing to partner and sacrifice with us as we fought the good fight of faith. I wanted those who wouldn’t give up and quit when all seemed lost, those who would press on until we could all rejoice together. Who would have thought my request would be so thoroughly granted by God with this sweet widow? 

That was over 20 years ago. The journey we have been on with Jeanne is nothing short of an adventure. We’ve never met anyone with the

Jeanne Elsner
Jeanne Elsner

courage, determination, faithfulness, and grace that Jeanne exhibits. Karen and I know she is as human as the next person. In fact, early on in our relationship I had good reason to dismiss her as an intercessor. That would have been one of the biggest mistakes of my life! Instead, by God’s grace, Jeanne has been praying for Karen and me, our family and our ministry for all these years. She has been with us in the heat of battle, the peak of success and the valley of defeat. She has prayed us through potential scandal, slander, and personal loss. When others abandoned us or didn’t believe in us, she prayed for us and we were often vindicated.

Jeanne quickly became a significant part of our family. Weddings, Thanksgiving dinners, and Christmas celebrations would not have been complete without her. When I told Jeanne we were leaving Colorado and moving to Oklahoma, she didn’t even blink. She simply said, “I know and I’m coming, too.” When we lost our grandson to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) Jeanne, who felt the loss as much as we did, never stopped praying for us – not even to mourn. When you look upon her you see a sweet elderly woman who is every bit a lady. But, behind that sweetness is a woman of fierce power, whose prayers are feared by the ruler of darkness and heard by our Heavenly Father.

Karen and I don’t believe it’s always what she prays that gets God’s attention. Sometimes the Father simply responds to Jeanne’s heart. He seems to know her in a special way and is glad to have her in His presence. Certainly she prays with grace and power but theology aside, we don’t sense that is how she gets her answers to prayer. We believe she just runs into the arms of God and makes her request known. And like any happy father, our Father smiles and proclaims His grace to her.

God likes Jeanne so much that He often speaks to her in pictures. She sees visions and she dreams dreams that somehow carry His voice. Maybe He speaks to her this way because she is an artist and He knows she understands pictures. Her pictures from the Father have greatly enhanced our personal life and ministry. This personal relationship that Jeanne has with God has been a wonder to many. Sometimes it is obvious, Jeanne is sharing the Father with us. Sometimes it is just as obvious, the Father is sharing Jeanne with us.

So, over these 20-plus years Jeanne has been our personal intercessor. She has been a partner in ministry. Much of our success and even the survival of this ministry can be attributed to God answering her faithful prayers. How can we say “thank you” for such unselfish giving of oneself? How can we appropriately appreciate such faithfulness and grace? We don’t think we can adequately say what needs to be said. Words fail us. Tears fill my eyes as I write this. Perhaps Jeanne will understand how grateful Karen and I are for her love when we simply say, “Thank you Lord, for giving Jeanne to us.”

Transitions are in the wind. Karen and I are establishing yet another new ministry. Jeanne has faithfully carried the burden of prayer for us throughout the last two decades of our ministry within the walls of the institutional church. Now, as we transition into ministry outside these walls, she continues to pray for God’s grace and power to establish our work. She has stayed at her station when others fled. When others talk the talk she has chosen to walk the walk.

The Lord has instructed us to honor this faithful and beautiful woman of God for her amazing service to the Body of Christ and us. This brief writing is only part of our effort to giver her that honor. She deserves more than we can give and so eternity will have to reward her appropriately. And though we’ve told her many times, we must say it again for all to hear:

“Jeanne, Karen and I love you with all our hearts. You have deeply impacted us with your love. You have surpassed all our prayers for an intercessor and ministry partner. You are a blessing to us. We, in turn, bless you. The prayers you have prayed for our success and destiny will be fully realized. We do not doubt this in the least. So we promise, in obedience to our Lord and as an honor to you and your prayers, we will carry on.”

Wes and Karen Schoel

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4 Comments to “A Tribute to Our Intercessor”

  1. Deb A. says:

    I met Jeanne once a few years ago and I will never forget her and the impact she had on my life thru that brief meeting. She is an incredible woman of God!!! What an honor to have been blessed with her friendship, love and prayers!

  2. Sharon Ruckman says:

    I didn’t meet Jeanne until Summer 1998. She not only was Karen and Wes’ intercessor, but she taught other women from the church about intercession as well. I always felt accepted and loved by her, and the grace she demonstrated to all made her highly approachable whenever you had an issue or problem you needed help with.
    Amazingly, her age did not deter her from making major moves in her later years. Her main focus was always to be actively involved in Karen and Wes’ lives, no matter how difficult or unpleasant various changes would affect her personally. I admire that type of courage all the more the older I get. It is not easy to uproot yourself and settle into another state, community, and culture at age 80.
    Jeanne prayed for me and my husband as well, and I don’t think it was just because of being in the ‘family.’ Jeanne considered it her privilege to pray for us.
    I am so blessed to have known her well from 1998 until the mid-2000′s. She was a mentor, a friend, a sister in the Lord, and a teacher all rolled into one!
    Blessings, Jeanne!

  3. Sandy Weitzel says:

    I met Jeanne many years ago,,, along with Wes and Karen,, I first met them at the Store Front Hosanna Church in Conifer, then we all moved to Mountain Song Foursquare Church in Indian Hills ,,, I was impacted by Jeanne, as she had so much wisdom and it all just made sense that God was in control, and I needed to pay attention… so over the yrs. I’ve visited her in Pine Junction , also Oklahoma, and I know this Woman is driven by our Lord Jesus Christ to Lead in her intersession, and faithfulness.. I have admired Jeanne for years and Love her also as Jesus.. God Bless you Jeanne ….You are the BEST….

  4. Wonderful! It’s so refreshing to see believers giving honor where honor is due. I love to read about prayer warriors who would only believe the report of the Lord concerning those who are in the trenches of ministry. I thank God that you Pastor Wes, and your precious wife Karen were blessed with such a dedicated woman of God who truly know the words of prayer! ~ be blessed of the Lord

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