Tom Elliff
Oklahoma City, OK

After pastoring for forty-two years, Tom Elliff served the International Mission Board, first as Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations from 2005-2009, then as President from 2011-2014. Tom served pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma and as an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe. Tom also served as president of the SBC Pastor's Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Happy Anniversary, Shug!

By on August 18, 2016

Fifty years ago, August 20, Jeannie and I set out on what we often called “one glorious gospel adventure.” That young couple you see there in the picture had absolutely no idea we were setting out on the high seas of an adventure that would take us to outstanding schools, wonderful churches, dozens of countries, and end with the privilege of serving the finest missionary team anywhere in the world. Throw in four kids, twenty-five grand kids, and three great grand kids, and you’ll understand why we often used the word “adventure.”

As Jeannie and I headed out the doors of Immanuel Baptist Church, Little Rock, Arkansas, we were aware that, in His love, God had brought two very imperfect people to the marriage altar and now, by His grace, we would share life together.  That’s exactly what we did, share life, and exactly how we did it, together, for forty-eight years and eleven months. Then, one year and one month ago, the same gracious Lord who gave us one another called Jeannie to slip away from her cancer-ridden body and join Him at His side, free from all the shackles of this sin-cursed world.1315

We had often spoken of our upcoming fiftieth anniversary, and just how we’d celebrate. (Actually, we had reminded our children that this was the one anniversary we’d all celebrate together but the tab was on them!) But as the writer of Proverbs reminds us, we may make our plans, but God directs our steps (Pr 16:9).

This fiftieth anniversary gives me the privilege of celebrating by relishing the wonderful memories of our life together. I cannot find it within me to lament Jeannie’s passing but am taken instead by the privilege that was given me of being married to Jeannie at all, whatever the length of time.

Thank you, Lord, for the grace and love you bestowed on Jeannie and me over almost forty-nine years. Thank you for saving us out of the wretchedness of sin and blessing us with the privilege of serving You in the greatest enterprise in the universe. Thank you for a marriage characterized by transparency and trust, faith and faithfulness, humor and holiness, and an eagerness to lay at your feet all that came our way.

Thank you, Lord…and Happy Anniversary, Shug! Yes…Happy, Happy Anniversary.

Rejoice evermore!

Tom Elliff
2 Tim 1:12

*Yes…for those of you who know us well, that is the irrepressible Ruffin Snow in the background. He and Melissa had married two weeks earlier (and he made me buy new slacks for that wedding). Some people, like some things, never change…and I’m grateful.