Yesterday (February 17, 2012) Bert Elliot—an older brother of the well-known Christian martyr Jim Elliot—was promoted to glory and united with his Lord and reunited with his brother Jim! What a servant Bert was.
Bert and his wife Colleen went to Peru in 1949 to be missionaries (Jim left for Ecuador in 1952 and was killed four years later). Bert labored consistently and reliably for about 63 years.
For many years Bert and Colleen served about half the year among the native people of the Amazon jungle. At first they traveled by canoe; later they had a motor launch named “Maranatha” (literally “our Lord cometh”—see 1 Corinthians 16:22).
The other half of the year they served native people in high areas of the Andes Mountains. Traveling by foot, by animal, and later by 4x4 vehicles, they brought the message of God’s love to the people of Peru. Somehow they also had time to work among the people of Peru’s coastal areas!
Many years ago they ceased thinking of themselves as missionaries in a foreign land and rightly viewed themselves as Peruvians. In their labors for their Lord and Savior, they have established well over 150 churches throughout Peru.
For whatever reason, God has chosen that Bert and Colleen should be childless—but they are the spiritual parents of thousands and have impacted many thousands more. Now Bert has moved from his humble dwelling on earth and there is joy in heaven as he is welcomed to his mansion in heaven! “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23).
Bert and Colleen chose to forego the luxuries of this life in order to bring individuals to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They have endured many hardships. At one point they were targeted for assassination by the guerrilla terrorist drug lords misnamed the “Shining Path.” In order to help the people they love even more, they acquired medical and dental skills—going beyond offering a cup of water in Christ’s name (Mark 9:41).
Once when asked about the impact of his better-known brother, Bert replied that while his brother Jim was like a comet streaking across the sky which caught the attention of those on earth, God chose him to serve in a different capacity as one of the many dim stars from earth’s viewpoint—stars which are countless in the vast universe. There are many who consistently shine as lights where God has put them but never achieve the recognition that has come to Jim Elliot and the other four Christian martyrs at that time. But God chooses to use both a few streaking comets and the many stars!
Bert and Colleen fully understand the concept of “laying up treasures in heaven.” “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
“He [Jesus] said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me’” (Luke 18:22b).
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
comment: There is more information about the Elliot family in the background section of the book “JIM ELLIOT: A Christian Martyr Speaks to You” edited by myself. For more information about this book see the right column of this blog or the tab at the top.