Elder Jeff Elliott

The Jeff Elliott Family auto fixI was born on March 16, 1959 in Watseka, Illinois in Iroquois County. I went to grade school and high school in Watseka. I graduated from high school in 1977 and went to work for a construction company. I never had any type of church background. Once in awhile, on holidays, my family and I would go to a so-called church in the area. I had good parents who loved me very much and taught me right from wrong. I sometimes obeyed them but mostly I was a stubborn, pig-headed, selfish boy and did whatever I wanted. In my eighth grade year I began to experiment with drugs, mostly marijuana. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was trying to fill a void in my life that all lost people have. I turned to the world and what it had to offer! By the time I was a senior in high school I was selling and using drugs on a regular basis. I was running around doing anything and everything to fill that empty void in my life. My parents didn’t know what to do with me. At 16 my dad gave me an ultimatum; straighten up or move out. I moved out on my own for a short time, until my uncle talked me into moving back home. Not a whole lot changed. I was just more discreet in my drug use.

The second half of my senior year brought a big change in my life. I met a girl whose name was Judy Taylor, the daughter of an old-time Baptist preacher, Larry T. Taylor. He pastored a small Missionary Baptist Church in Milford, Illinois, called Beautiful Home Missionary Baptist Church. Judy and I started dating and seeing a lot of each other. I liked her very much. She introduced me to the gospel of our Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ. If I wanted to see her on Sundays and Wednesdays I had to go to church with her. The church was not very big and never was, but a lot of people were saved in the 15 years it was in existence. When I first met the people of the church I felt that they had something that I didn’t. I did not understand it at the time, but as time went on I began to understand more. They told me about Jesus, about His love for mankind, and that He died to save lost humanity. I started to have an understanding in my mind but not my heart! I began to have a desire to be saved but for all the wrong reasons. Judy and the rest of the people in the church had taken me right in amongst them and made me feel welcomed and loved. I first wanted to be saved to make all of them happy. I stopped smoking dope for awhile but that didn’t last long. I was trying to clean the outward man up but that didn’t help me inside. I asked a lot of questions and prayed a lot but it didn’t seem to be helping.

On Sunday morning, a week before Easter in 1977, I went to church with Judy as I had been doing for awhile, but that morning seemed different. Before church started, I went down to the basement to be alone. I asked God to help me that morning to understand. I went back up stairs and the regular Sunday morning service started. Some songs were sung, prayers were made. Then Elder Larry Taylor got up to preach. He preached Jesus. He preached about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God. That morning was different for me. The Spirit of God showed me I was lost in my sins. I didn’t want to be saved to make everyone happy that morning. I wanted to be saved because I knew I was lost in my sins and that if I died hell would be my home. I didn’t just know this in my mind but the spirit showed me in my heart. The altar call was given and I just stood there holding on to the bench. I didn’t know what to do. I had never seen anyone get saved or even go to the altar before. I thank God that Brother Taylor was following the Lord. He came to me and asked me if I wanted to go to the altar and pray and that’s all it took. I ran to the altar and began to pray. I just kept asking God to save me because I was a sinner, and HE DID!! When I stopped praying the church was singing “Amazing Grace”. I felt like God had taken that empty void in my life that I was trying to fill with drugs and alcohol and filled it completely full of His love, and it was running over. I felt so full and happy! I did not know at the time how to tell people how I felt, but they seemed to know that God had saved my soul. A week later, on Easter Sunday, I joined the church and was baptized.

By this time Judy and I had already made plans to get married. My life really changed that last year in high school. I got saved and baptized, graduated and got married, but it wasn’t over yet. I began to serve my God the best I knew how, reading, praying, and going to church every time the doors were open. I started to get feelings that God had more for me to do, but I just didn’t understand what it was. A few months went by (about three) and the feeling wouldn’t go away. I tried to ignore the feeling and pushed it out of my mind but it just kept coming back to me. I tried to figure it out. I asked questions of anyone who would listen and I prayed about it. While all this was going on in my life, my father-in-law got a call to pastor a church in Washington, Illinois. He accepted and they moved away from us. I missed him greatly. He was a good teacher of God’s word. One morning I woke up with this burden bearing down on my heart. I told my wife I was going to drive over and have lunch with her dad. It was about 100 miles, one way. I had to ask him a question. I drove over and had lunch with him and I asked him what it felt like when God called him to preach. We had a wonderful afternoon of fellowship. He gave me some advice that day. He said to get my bible and study every day, and learn as much about the Baptist doctrines as God would let me. He said if God had called me to preach that I would be that much ahead, but if He hadn’t that I needed to know all of it anyway. I went back home that day not really feeling any better. A week later in a revival service God told me exactly what my burden was. He told me that he wanted me to preach the gospel. I told the church that night that God had called me to preach. They seemed to all know already. They were just waiting for me to figure it out.

For the next 5 years, I preached wherever I got a chance: Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and West Virginia. Every weekend my family and I were going to church somewhere. I went to every meeting I could get to. I preached in a nursing home for about a year, and did a year of radio work. Things seemed to be going along well for me, and then I began to feel restless. Preaching on appointments didn’t seem to be fulfilling anymore. I didn’t understand.

It was that year (1983) in August that my home church felt it was time for me to be ordained to the full work of the Gospel. I had a feeling inside that God was going to be calling me to a work somewhere.

In March of 1984 I went to the Old Union Minister’s School just like I had for the past few years. Things were different that year. Elder Paul Bryson was pastor of Old Union Baptist Church, and he had gotten up and made a prayer request for a little church in California. He said they were small and needed a pastor. Right then I knew what God wanted me to do. I didn’t know how it would all come about, but God did. I came home and told my wife, who was pregnant at the time, my burden. She seemed to know that it wouldn’t be long before we moved. I made plans to fly out to California to preach and meet the church people. Shortly after that, they called me to pastor. My family and I moved to California in July, 1984. We spent two years of our life there just outside of Los Angeles. I have many great memories of our time there. My 4th son, Jonathon, was born there. I met and preached the gospel to many people, including Elder Art Ruiz, who was at the time a big gang member, and is now a missionary in Mexico. It was a growing period in my life.

From California, we moved to Oregon to pastor Hauser Missionary Baptist Church. We spent 2 years at Hauser and also have many fond memories there. The Lord blessed us there with many young people being saved and added to the church. My oldest son, Jason, was saved there.

When the Lord lifted my burden of pastoring Hauser Church, He put another burden in its place. My family and I moved back to Illinois and did mission work there for the next five years. I was thankful to God to have a chance to preach to my lost family. My mom, dad, brother, sister, aunts, uncles, and the people I went to school with were all living there. It was a hard work. The Bible says, “A prophet has no honor in his own country.” I found this to be true. Many people got a chance to hear the gospel. My brother and his daughter and others were saved. Then God brought it to an end. I always felt like a church would be organized there, but God had other plans. The Bible teaches that His word wouldn’t return void but it would prosper in the ways God wanted it to. God taught me He was in charge of the results. I was just to do what He wanted me to do.

Shortly after closing the doors of the mission in Illinois and shaking the dust from my feet, I received a call to pastor Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Missouri. I have always felt that every work I was in prepared me for the next job that God had for me. While pastoring in Missouri, a member of the church called and asked if I would like to go to Alaska and help the church there put on their new roof. I said that I would love to do that but just wasn’t able to because of the money it would cost. She told me I didn’t understand. She felt that she should buy my airline ticket and get me up there. So off to Alaska I went. Little did I know that when I got there God would place an overwhelming burden to move up there and do mission work.

At the present time my family and I are living in a small town called Palmer. Many things have been happening. I have met a lot of people and told them why I came to Alaska. I believe God will connect us with the people He wants us to reach. With the help of God and His people, I hope to establish an Old Time Missionary Baptist Church in the river valley where I live. I need your prayers in this endeavor for God. We can all be successful in the Lord’s work if we will just listen to that still, small voice.
From “The Macedonian Call” July 1996

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