Monday, April 6, 2009

Somebody Special

I would like you to meet Bert and Colleen Elliot, Missionaries, who have served in Peru since 1949. They will soon be home for a few weeks, with many special events planned for them. Since I will be writing of these wonderful family occasions, I thought you should be introduced to two of the dearest people in my life.

Where do I begin? Bert, I have known all my life, and Colleen almost as long. Even as young people, they were exemplary in their walk with the Lord.

As a very young couple, they were willing to follow God’s will in going to minister in Peru. Now in their 60th year of service, only eternity will reveal all that God has been pleased to do through these two dear servants of God.

They began their work in in a hot humid river town called Lagunas. There they shared a tiny cottage with another missionary couple. Their shared house had rammed earth walls and a dirt floor, without benefit of electricity, running water, bathroom - or privacy. They lived for several months, as newlyweds, in this situation. (Its hard to imagine isn’t it?)

They have lived in the high mountains, as well as on the jungle rivers where they spent time on their boat, the Maranatha. For several months of the year, they ministered to many little riverside towns and villages.

In their early years, part of their ministry consisted of Bert pulling teeth and Colleen delivering babies. As they begin to see fruit in their labours, little groups of believers began to form in Yurimaguas, where they lived for many years, and in the river villages. They grew into churches as they studied the Word and recognized leadership.

Since 1988 they have lived in the seaside town of Trujillo.

Elizabeth Elliot’s husband, Lars, wrote after a visit, “They are available for any who call or that ring the doorbell, whether expected or unexpected. Along with open doors there are the Bible Studies, their involvement in the Christian School which is part of the church that was started years ago. Plus there is an exceptional drug program leading addicts into a new life based on Scripture. Not all make it, but many respond to the Gospel.”

Lars goes on to write, “All this after 59 years on the field with no thought of rocking chair or hanging out a shingle saying, ‘busy, please call again.’ What a life of service!”

Bert said to Lars on their last day visiting that if he had been given paper and pencil and told to draw out the perfect wish and plan for his life, it would not have been half as good as what the Lord opened for them. He quoted from Psalm 16, “the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”

In looking back over their lives in Peru, Bert says, “It is like looking back from a moving boat. You see the beautiful patterns in the wake. We found God’s will and now look back with wonder and adoration to see what God has done.”

As I gathered data for this collection of thoughts, my own observations over the many years we’ve been friends, as well as cousins, are rich in warm, wonderful memories. They are such happy people, always smiling, and radiating Christlike love in all of their comings and goings. Several years ago, they both had bouts with cancer, a knee replacement, and they continue to live with the general problems of aging bodies.

Home on furlough, a long time ago, we were all at a family picnic and I asked Bert to look at my six year old Susie’s tooth which was growing in strangely. He asked our Uncle Ted for some pliers and calmly pulled her offending tooth before Sue knew what had happened.

From the time my Jonathan was about three, every time “Uncle” Bert came home, he would be just enthralled. When he was about three or four, whenever anyone came to our house, he would sit them all down, pass out “Bibles” to everyone, then announce he was going to preach to them like “Uncle Bert” does, and he would proceed to “preach” just telling Bible story after Bible story, until he ran out of stories. He would close his Bible, say “amen” and that was the end. I had a few neighbors that used to stop in just to hear him “preach”. Just a funny little kid story, but what an example Bert was to Jonathan....the beautiful part of that story is that Jon’s son, Elliot, is just as enthralled with “Uncle” Bert as his Dad was!

...and today, Jonathan, the grown man, preaches.

I cannot close this without mentioning their music. They sing together in beautiful harmony. Their melodious voices can lift the spirits like none I’ve ever heard! People were drawn to them in the town squares of the many little villages, they visited, by their singing, with Colleen playing the accordion. Bert then had the opportunity to preach.

Over the sixty years we’ve seen them every few years when they came home for furlough, we have spent many happy hours together in my home. I never let them leave without blessing us with a duet to complete the evening.

I want to close this with the meaningful words from a hymn I have heard them sing in duet many times.........

Because He Lives

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!
And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict'ry,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives!

Stay tuned for more!


Sassy Granny ... said...

"Because He Lives" has long been one of my favorite Gaither songs. How fitting a placement here, with the story you've shared. You can be sure I'll stay tuned.

Oh for more Uncle Berts in this world!


Amy said...

This makes me want to cry! I can hear them singing it right now! In English and in Spanish! I also love their "Walkin' along singin' a song side by side" song. I'm so excited you get to spend some time with them this month!!! It will be special. Lars is so right. I'm always challenged and convicted after being with them and seeing their availability and love for everyone who comes, no matter when.

Oh to be so used of the Lord and so sincerely humble.

Mary Isabella and Kiley too! said...

This is truly the message our Lord wants told. Because he lives is one of my favorite hymns. Have a Blessed Holy week my friend....m..

Technonana said...

Thanks for introducing us to such wonder, precious people!!
How blessed are we to have people such as this to Go and Tell the Good News!!
It would be a great honor to meet such amazing servants to our Amazing God.

Sally said...

Because HE Lives! Is one of my favorite songs and it is because of Him I can face each trial. I sat and cried as I read the words you have penned about the Elliots. In my mind I can see them singing and teaching God's Word! thank you so much for sharing this with me.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to see your blog back! How beautiful the Christian heritage in your family is. I love the verse The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. How true of God it is.

A beautiful song for this week especially!

Kim said...

Thanks so much for introducing us to them!

Anonymous said...

I am trying to find information on Bert and Colleen and found your little post. I spent time with them down in Yurimagus travelling on their river boat and helping them build a camp building. I can be reached at

Randy Freethy