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Son of slain workers envisions redemption for Iraqi attackers

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–The son of slain Southern Baptist workers Larry and Jean Elliott said he does not hate the people who killed his parents in Iraq on March 15, 2004. Instead, Scott Elliott desires to see them saved.

In a May 19 commissioning service at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Elliott encouraged a host of missionary families preparing to deploy around the world to love the lost with that same kind of unconditional love.

“Somehow I feel no anger toward those who took my parents’ lives,” Elliott said. “Instead, I long for their salvation. They sent my parents home to their homecoming, and yet they face something so horrific. That [love] is the kind of love that God gives … and that is the love you’re taking to a lost world.”

Larry and Jean Elliott were former Southeastern students, with Larry earning a master of divinity degree from the seminary in 1978. After more than 25 years of service to Honduras, the Elliotts followed God’s call to a turbulent and unstable Iraq in 2003.

“Something that formed a foundation in their lives was Matthew 6:33,” Scott Elliott said, quoting the verse, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” His parents “took this as their life verse, and God in His grace enabled them to live that out to His glory.”

Although the Elliotts died with two other Southern Baptist workers when automatic weapons fire and rocket-propelled grenades struck their vehicle, Scott Elliott said he remains convinced that God’s master plan was still in effect that day.

“God completed His mission in my parents’ lives,” he said. “Only through God’s grace and His power were their lives able to be such a testament to Him.

“If we are rooted in the confidence of an eternal, sovereign God, we don’t have to understand, but we can trust that all things are working together for good.”

Commissioned in the service were 26 international church planters, 21 North American church planters and numerous students and faculty going on short-term mission trips this summer. Both the International Church Planting and North American Church Planting programs at Southeastern are designed to send students into the mission field for either two or three years to complete the remainder of their degree after two years of training at the seminary’s main campus in Wake Forest.

The brainchild of outgoing Great Commission Center director Keith Eitel, Southeastern’s International Church Planting program format has been implemented by other seminaries as well.

Elliott further encouraged the students to minister faithfully and spread the Gospel passionately, relying on God in both the blessings and the struggles of ministry.

“Be content to leave the outcome and results to God,” he said. “You don’t have to save the world. You can’t save the world. Leave that up to God.”

Elliott also encouraged students not to neglect their personal time with God each day.

“Never become complacent where you are in your ministries,” he said. “Guard your personal walk with God. Make sure He’s still getting a steady, meaningful amount of your time each day because life still goes on on the mission field.”

Elliott said he was encouraged by the sight of students ready to give their lives in the service of the Gospel to take it to the ends of the earth. They are part of the same effort for which his parents died, he said.

“It thrills my heart that God’s work continues even as Satan tries his hardest to defeat Him. That work never ends,” Elliott said. “We know some things don’t change, like God’s worthiness to be praised in the life of each and every one of us…. That’s what we’re here about today, isn’t it?”

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  • Kyle Smith