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November 22, 2011

Profiles In The Faith: Tom Elliff

There are few men that when you walk into their presence, whether in an airport or a church on Sunday, that you become quaintly aware of the presence God in their life.  I count it God’s favor and blessing each time I get to know and spend time with one of these men who challenges my personal walk with Christ and encourages my spirit.  Tom Elliff is a sixty-six year old gentle-spirited man, whose passion for pursuing the heart of God seems to be relentless.  His love for God’s church and His people motivate his passion for God’s glory.

He is the third-generation of preachers in his family, a shepherd at heart, a missionary by calling and a preacher by gifting.   Four decades of ministry, from Zimbabwe, to Oklahoma, to the President of the International Mission Board, Elliff has been a preacher of the gospel.  His heart is led by the Spirit of God and is unconcerned with anything else but the glory of God. For that, God’s favor and hand of anointing has rested on Elliff and his ministry.

There is a reason Elliff walks humbly with a quiet burden through the halls of churches and the fields of missionaries- he is a man of prayer.  Although his life has seen mountiantops and deep valleys, Elliff’s life is marked by sensitivity to the Spirit of God only given through a life of prayer.  It affects the way he preaches, the way he writes, the way he loves his wife, and the way he leads nearly 5,000 appointed missionaries.

As a faithful part of our ReFresh team, I have had a front row seat watching God’s hand at work through Elliff’s life.  He is a gifted teacher whose heart beats for the glory of God to fall on His Church again.  But this burden has not come without pain and struggles along the way. When serving in Zimbabwe, his wife and daughter got hurt severely in a car accident that forced them to return to the States. Recently he and his wife, Jeannie, walked down a dark road with cancer, yet Elliff’s heart for the glory of God has only grown stronger.

As one of the most influential men in church life for probably the last century, Elliff is a gifted preacher and writer. While all of his books are great, two of his books, The Red Feather and the Broken Curse are necessary reads for every believer.

I am so grateful for men like Elliff who care more about the Spirit of God than their title or position; men possessed with a heavy burden and deep sensitivity to the Spirit of God.  These men are rare- they are men of prayer, and men of the Word. Their impact on our world is immeasurable; they walk humbly and righteously before God.

 

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