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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By on July 11, 2015

We are so blessed by the constant inquiries regarding Jeannie’s health and the many assurances of prayer that you have sent our way. A simple “Thank you” seems so inadequate, yet our hearts just overflow with gratitude for your concern and God’s tender mercies. So here is an update that I pray will encourage you in your own walk of faith.

Barring Divine intervention, it appears that Jeannie is on a short track “home.” That should not surprise you, of course for the same is true of you and me as well. After all, it is the Father Who gives our hearts permission to take their next beat. So while we pray for just such an intervention, I think it would be good for you to know the three prayers that most often come from our hearts and lips.

First, we pray that we will remain true to a mission statement hammered out at a retreat over three decades ago. Our mission is to be living illustrations of the faithfulness of God to every person who will take Him at His Word. Each day we ask God to hold our feet to the fire in our efforts to remain true to our mission.

Second, we pray that Christ might be glorified through all that we think, say, and do. After all, isn’t that the purpose each one of us has while here on earth? And that is a purpose that can be fulfilled regardless of one’s circumstances. We pray that others will get an accurate and unclouded picture of our Lord as they view Him through the lens of our lives.

Third, we pray that living or dying, we will joyfully embrace what the Lord brings to usWhile not everything that comes our way has the first appearance of being from God, we are surprised at how often things that seem bad to us are actually for our good. It is only by remaining in His Word, and living in surrender to the Spirit’s control, that we  maintain the discretion and strength to battle the things that are from the enemy and embrace those that are from the Lord.

Does it surprise you that our first and great prayer right now is not for healing. To be sure, we have cried out to God for that! But in our desire that God might heal Jeannie and give her a few more years on this earth, we do not want to abandon what really counts. Thus the three major prayers above.

So as you pray for Jeannie, will you join us in these three prayers? Maybe they should become yours as well.

  • Annette E Turner

    AMEN! I would expect nothing less from you two. WOW. What a affirmation and blessing to see and read the floods of those whose lives you have touched through the years!! OH MY GOODNESS! I sometimes would think I was nuts to hold you both in such loving regard.. now I KNOW!!! EVERYONE DOES! You have always walked the journey just as you have spoken and taught us to do the same. Praise God!  We are ALL on the short track.. I am a bit jealous that Jeannie may fly out of here before the rest of us! Its a mess down here! But with my heart so full of love and concern for you both day and night I dreamed of eternity last night! Oh the precious days that are ahead for those of us who believe! I am so glad I get to spend eternity with so many I have loved and treasured through the years! To borrow your words Bro. Tom, barring a miracle, Jeannie is on the fast track, you on His track to carry on His mission. I know through the losses I have experienced over these past 14 years that SORROW will hoe a DEEP furrow in our soul from which comes forth a power of the Spirit that cannot be quenched. I am confident whether by your side on this earth or from the portals of heaven your Beloved will be beside you and her life, here or in eternity will be pouring into yours and together you will be used mightily of God for a sweeping of His Spirit before His return! I believe this with all of my heart. So, those of us left behind, as you have often said, have work to do! The heavens are rumbling and no doubt His fury building. We need Him now more than ever. Those first days after losing Jordan were so incredible. The Lord allowed me fellowship with Him and Jordan unlike anything I had experienced before. He told me it was but a brief season to bring me comfort but what and incredible season it was, my heart torn wide open with grief and yet standing fully in the presence of God as He poured His love over me and allowed me to see Him as He really is! What a blessing to know that because of His Spirit we are never truly separated! I felt as if I had stepped onto the edge of heaven and was able to glimpse His glory and to see eternity. Although those moments were brief, it was enough to empower me to “see” entirely different. I will never look at this life the same again. I thought I had been to the Jabbok;  now I know that it is through the valley of the shadow of death that one comes forth with a limp. A limp that is meant to declare His glory!  With the precious bond you two have I have NO DOUBT the Lord our God will grant this same to you and through that you will remain ONE HEART in purpose and mission. I love you both dearly and weep with you but rejoice in the hope we have in HIM!

  • loristadler

    Thank you so much for choosing to Glorify God even now! I am listening and praying with you and for our my own life. I want to be a living illustration of the faithfulness of God to Glorify Him in everything I do and say and to rejoice always! I will be forever thankful to you and our Heavenly Father for placing you in our lives at just the perfect timing and teaching us these principles of life years ago before we moved to Germany. My life has been forever changed because of you Tom and Jeanie. My family’s life has been forever changed. I love you and adore you and the only way I know to thank you enough is to keep passing it on from generation to generation and to everyone that God puts in my path.
    Lori stadler.

  • zoe_randy

    Love this Bro Tom and love you guys! Oh for all of us to have this perspective.

  • GlendaTerrill

    Lynn and I will join you in these prayers!!  Your love for the Father and for each other is a great example for all of us!

  • rscharton

    Our family was heartbroken to hear of Jeannie’s illness.  Please know that we will be keeping Jeannie and the whole family in our prayers.

    Ron and Kathleen Scharton

  • Lisa Cobbs Potter

    Bro. Tom, keeping you both and the family close in my prayers. Love you both so much.

  • Yanet Arauz

    Bro. Tom, we will continue to pray and join you with these three prayers!

  • DebbieRobinsonThompson

    We continue to pray for for healing. Whether that healing occurs here or in heaven, is God’s choice. He knows best and loves us most. Jeremiah 33:3. Thank you for taking the time to write and opening your heart. We will pray For strength, grace and mercy as you focus your eyes on Jesus during these difficult days.

  • BrittanyFrymire

    Jeannie has kept those three things to the fullest. She is one of my favorite people. She is the kindest, most genuine lady I know. She has made a huge impact on my life and I am forever grateful for her! You are the best Jeannie — thank you for always making me feel loved!!! Love you❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • BruceMerrick

    Gina and I owe so much to you and Jeannie. Shaping our last thirty-five years of ministry. I still use examples from our time there in my classes! We too know some small portion of what you are experiencing! God has led us on an unbelievable journey through her illness, but brought glory to Him throughout! What a privilege to have served with you on staff at Exciting Eastwood! Our hearts ache for you! Prayers!

  • RitaJP

    Tom and Jeannie, THANK YOU for this!!  It is my prayer that I can be as FAITHFUL as you two have been.  As of Friday, I am no longer employed by the IMB (not of my choosing).  I cannot expound upon that because so many of your friends an mine will be seeing this.  Just suffice it to say, prayer #3 above really spoke to my heart today.  It is my prayer that I can come to realize this:  That the Lord uses everything for good for those that love HIM!!! (Rom. 8:28)

  • davidweng

    I have been there, where you are at now, hard, really hard, God helped me through that time, he helped my dying wife through that time, 17 years ago, He will help you, trust Him, you know that, harder to do than to just say it, but remember your own words, and that He is in control. David Weng

  • cburtonkenya

    Tom and Jeannie, Kay Smith called us after they left your house. Our office just prayed for you and Jeannie.  We love you and hope the time with family is precious. We will continue to lift both of you up before our Father.  Lynn and I will pray your three prayers.  love, Connie

  • RuthAnnCook

    We pray for you today, Tom. God is and has been so at work in your lives; and I ask the Lord to shower you, support you, hug you with his precious love and presence through the Holy Spirit.

  • SherryJoslin

    Dear Tom,
    I just read about Jeannie’s home going to be with our Lord! I’m praying that God will comfort you and the family. That He will give you the peace and strength you’ll need to get through this difficult time.
    I remember when Boots (Boots Blackwell) died on the mission field, there really was such a peace and comfort because so many around the world were lifting us up. And the same is true for y’all….thousands are praying for you.
    For months people either called or wrote or emailed or came by to remind me they were praying for me. But I also remember the day months later, when I wondered if others even thought to pray for me…if God was going to hear my own prayers! Well, that very night a missionary friend called to ask if I was ok because she felt so strongly led to call me. For me that was confirmation that YES….God was and will always be with me and strengthen me and help me throughout-out my life. And He has!!
    But it’s okay to cry out to God…..even when you don’t have the words….your heart’s cry will be heard!!
    I have always thought the world of you and Jeannie since the first time I met y’all at Callaway Gardens at missionary orientation. I knew then y’all were ‘special’ and God would use you greatly. He has and now although He’s called Jeannie Home, He still has more for you to do. May God comfort your heart and may you feel His peace and presence in a very special way. I’ll be praying for all of you. Much love in Christ,
    Sherry Blackwell Joslin

  • julie martin

    Bro.Tom, so much emotion is running through my soul this morning as I hear the news of our precious friend, wife, mother, and mentor has gone to be in the physical presence of Jesus. You may not have known this, I hope that Jeannie did, but she was a huge role model for me as a young minister’s wife during those years Jeff served as student pastor as FSBC. I watched her grace and kindness, her love for you and how she honored and respected you. I watched her as a mother and would listen and capture all the things Beth, Amy, Sarah and Jon would say about her and how I wanted to live like that. Bro Tom, she always knew when some thing was wrong, she could see it in my eyes and always stop, touch my arm, smile and ask what was bothering me. As I would begin to share my heart with her a reassuring smile would come across her face followed by great words of wisdom. I hope she got my card I sent to her back in the fall right before she was going through her 2nd to the last round of chemo. I wanted her to know how much her love meant to me.
    The Christmas of 1985, I spent with your family during a difficult tme in my family’s life helped me to get a glimpse of how I wanted my family to look like. Jeannie and Beth were my angels from heaven during that time in my life. I still remember making cinnamon rolls in your kitchen making a huge mess and thinking ” Wow, we are not getting in trouble for this” 🙂
    I remember sitting on your front porch with Beth and Jeannie, back in the day, talking about boys and life and giggling. I just have so many wonderful memories with her and your family.
    I am so sorry, Bro. Tom, that I haven’t expresed my gratitude until now. But, I wanted you to know how much you and Jeannie meant to me as a young woman who wanted nothing more than Jesus.
    Jeff and I will be praying earnestly during this time for you all. Miss Jeannie has left her mark on this world. I am so grateful. I look forward to seeing her again soon.
    Blessings to you,
    Julie Martin

  • redaunt4

    Jeannie and I are / were facebook friends but you are not allowed more friends…. how awesome that you have so many followers.
    You mentioned having posted on facebook but I can’t see what you wrote because I can’t friend you or send you a message! 

    wondering if you would either make that post public or post it here?