In the fall of 2008, I sat with hundreds of other missionaries in Rockville, Va and listened as Dr. Tom Elliff taught us about the great doctrines of the Bible. Dr. Elliff’s ability to be both humorous and challenging as he spoke made him a missionary favorite during our 7 weeks of training. He shared stories of his time as a missionary in Africa, his struggles and victories as a pastor, and his love for his wife, his 4 children and his 25 grandchildren. But, the characteristic that resonated in my mind more than any other as I sat there and listened to Dr. Elliff is that he is a man of God. I want to briefly share 3 reasons why I believe Dr. Tom Elliff is a godly man and wonderful choice as the next President of the International Mission Board.
Tom Elliff is a faithful pastor and shepherd. He was the pastor at Eastwood Baptist church in Tulsa, Oklahoma for 10 years before being sent out as an IMB missionary. Upon returning from the mission field, Dr. Elliff was pastor at Applewood Baptist church in Lakewood, Colorado for a couple of years. Following that, He spent the next 20 years leading and shepherding the First Southern Baptist church of Del City, Oklahoma. Tom Elliff loves the word of God and for well over 40 years of his life has faithfully preached the Word of God to people all over the world.
Tom Elliff is a dynamic leader. Not only is he a pastor/shepherd, he is also has been a leader in Southern Baptist life for many years. Dr. Elliff was president of the SBC Pastor’s Conference in 1990. He also served as president of the SBC in 1996 and 1997. Most recently, Dr. Elliff served as IMB senior vice president for spiritual nurture and church relations. He has lead our denomination from many different posts and has a track record of being able to take churches and organizations to the next level.
Tom Elliff is a relentless missionary. In 1981, Dr. Elliff uprooted his family and left the comforts of America to work in the poverty stricken country of Zimbabwe. After spending 2 years there, the Elliff family had to return back to the US after the serious car accident that badly injured their teenage daughter, Beth. This accident may have caused the Elliff family to leave Zimbabwe, but it did not stop Tom Elliff from being a missionary. One morning back in the fall of 2008 before he was going to be speaking to the missionaries in training, Dr. Elliff led a man to Christ in the parking lot of the local IHOP in Richmond, Va. Being on mission with God is something that is normal for Dr. Tom Elliff. He sees himself as a missionary regardless of where the Lord has him on this earth.
Dr. Tom Elliff is a faithful shepherd, dynamic leader, and relentless missionary. He is a family man and a man of integrity. He has experience shepherding churches, training missionaries, and leading the SBC. His experience and heart for the nations is a key reason why I believe he is a great choice as the next President of the International Mission Board. I am excited to see how Dr. Tom Elliff reaches out to local churches and leads the International Mission Board to partner together for the sake of Christ among all nations!
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Thanks for the introduction. I dont know much about Dr. Eliff other than being vaguely familiar wIth his name. The reaction yesterday seemed overwhelmingly positive. As I looked over his bio I did wonder why his stay overseas was so short but that is perfectly understandable after reading about the accident.
So far it looks like we have every reason to believe this is a great choice. I’d like to know what the consensus is among IMB field personnel.
Thanks for the comment.
All of the personnel that I have corresponded with on the field are excited. I am sure that is not true across the board, but many of the workers are familiar with Dr. Elliff and know his heart and have great respect for him. I think so far the response has been very positive from those on the field. Perhaps some of them will share there thoughts here?
Dr. Eliff is an excellent choice. His focus is working together to get the gospel out to the ends of the earth. To that end, I expect that there won’t be much “oxygen” at the HQ of the IMB to feed the kind of polarization we saw on the Board of Trustees back in the 2005-2008 timeframe.
In recent years, the leadership of the IMB has been sharpening its evangelistic toolkit — rather than being polarized over theological spats. With Dr. Eliff, this positive trend will continue.
As a guy in the pew, I want to see the IMB “penetrating lostness” in the world — not being a theological debating society. That’s why I’m ecstatic to see that Dr. Eliff will be the next IMB President.
We don’t need a policy wonk to run the IMB. We need someone to take up the mantel from Dr. Rankin and continue the drive down the field.
Roger K. Simpson Oklahoma City OK
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