When Craig Ellis was growing up, he picked up the sort of adventure book meant for a boy looking to serve God. The book, “Shadow of the Almighty,” told the story of Jim Elliot, a young American evangelist killed while doing mission work in Ecuador.
The narrative of this Christian martyr did for Mr. Ellis what a superhero comic might have done for his peers: It got him pondering purpose, struggle and sacrifice. The book also provided a model for how a Christian should spread the news of salvation while working in treacherous territory, at great personal risk.
Very little in “Shadow of the Almighty,” however, prepared Mr. Ellis for where he stood on a recent Tuesday, in a room with industrial carpet and a dropped ceiling at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where people lined up on Sunday morning are more likely awaiting a table for brunch than taking communion.
Mr. Ellis, 39, welcomed the dozen men and women seated before him. “This is a space,” he said, “for people who consider themselves non-Christian and are coming in from the outside.”..