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In Loving Memory of Larry & Jean Elliott

On March 15, 2004, exactly 10 years ago today, my parents, Larry and Jean Elliott, went home to be with the Lord.  After serving as missionaries in Honduras for 25 years, they sensed God leading them to minister to the people of Iraq.  Their response to His call had always been "yes," and this case was no different.

They planned to show God's love to the people in that war-torn country by providing them with clean drinking water.  Dad had become a water purification expert, and he and his team had developed a water filtration system that could cleanse just about any type of polluted water using products that could be found in most third-world countries.  The invention had already proved its mettle in several disaster relief efforts in Central America.

In December of 2003, my family enjoyed a wonderful Christmas time together.  The whole clan, seventeen at the time, met at my brother's house.  We talked a lot about the exciting prospects of Mom and Dad going to Iraq and sharing God's love there, knowing full well that dangers also lurked.  It would be the last time on this earth that we would all be together.

The next month, January, they set off for Iraq to gather information about the country and establish contacts there.  We enjoyed getting emails from them and hearing about their travels and experiences.  Always missionaries, they were adapting well to the new and strange surroundings.  In early March, they embarked on a tour of northern Iraq to find out what possibilities for ministry existed north of Baghdad, the capital.

During their tour, they made a stop in the city of Mosul.  Interestingly, Mosul encompasses the location of the ancient city of Nineveh.  They were stopped in traffic in the downtown area when six men armed with automatic weapons surrounded their truck.  The terrorists opened fire.  My Mom and Dad were killed quickly, and two others on their team, David McDonnell and Karen Watson would also die in the attack.  Only David's wife Carrie survived, though her injuries were very severe.

The loss to me, my brother and sister, and our families was heart-wrenching.  As anyone who has lost a loved one knows, the finality of death is hard to overcome, and sadness is still very much a part of our lives when we remember Mom and Dad.  But, as Christians, we know that death is just the beginning for those who have been redeemed by Jesus.  It is because of that assurance that my family and I can say with resolute joy they are forever in Jesus' loving arms and that we will see them again.  In fact, now ten years later, we are ten years closer to that day!

And it is only through the amazing grace of God that I can stand here today - as I have for the last ten years - with forgiveness, not hatred, in my heart toward the terrorists who took my parents from me.  Jesus says in the Bible for us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  I am so grateful to Him that through His power in my life - and none of my own, to Him be all credit - I am able to do just that.

You can read more about my parents by clicking "Larry and Jean Elliott" below and scrolling down.

posted by Scott Elliott at 1:20pm 03/15/14 :: link
My parents went home to be with the Lord.  Larry and Jean Elliott died for the cause of Christ this day, March 15, 2004 in Mosul, Iraq.  It's hard to believe four years have passed.  Most days, life's busy-ness insulates my heart from the pain of loss, and I can reflect with fondness on all the good times and wonderful memories.  But some days, like today as my family and I placed flowers on their headstone, that pain surfaces with surprising freshness.  It still doesn't seem possible that they are truly gone from this earth.  I miss them terribly today.  Still, I know they are in Paradise, and for that I can rejoice.  And I can rejoice in knowing that someday there will I also be.  I will once again hear Dad's irresistible laugh and feel the warmth of Mom's loving smile.  Oh come quickly, Lord Jesus!
posted by Scott Elliott at 11:55pm 03/15/08 :: link
Two year's ago today my parents departed this earth bound for their Savior's loving arms.  Some of you may remember that day.  I posted news of their deaths shortly after the shooting occurred.

For those who aren't aware, my parents, Larry and Jean Elliott, served as international missionaries through the Southern Baptist Convention for 25 years in Honduras.  In 2004, they answered God's call to go to Iraq as relief workers dedicated to showing the Iraqi people God's love through humanitarian programs such as water purification projects.  Shortly after arriving in Iraq, while they were on fact-finding tour of the country, terrorists ambushed their car and killed four of the five occupants, including my parents, Karen Watson, and David McDonnall.  David's wife Carrie survived the attack but was severely wounded.

Last year, I wrote a letter to my parents that shared a bit of my heart one year later.  Every word of that letter is still true today.  This year, I thought I'd post some words I spoke at their memorial service a couple weeks after their passing.  The words are the lyrics to a popular Christian contemporary song which I rewrote to fit my parents' lives.  For those familiar with Ray Boltz, these words can be sung to the tune of "Thank you."

Thank You for Living for the Lord

My father's gone to heaven
and mother's with him there.
They walk upon the streets of gold
Bathed in the Father's care.

Amid the angels singing
Another sound they hear.
They turn and see this young man
And he is smiling ear to ear.

And he said, "Friends you may not know me now"
And then he said, "But see
You shared with me in prison
In 1973.

So many times you would come to share
I felt your love from the start.
Then on my knee I said a prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart."

(Chorus)
Thank you for living for the Lord
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for living for the Lord
I am so glad you gave.

Now a couple comes up to them
And says, "We remember the time
You came into our foreign land
We saw your love sublime.

You lived in a house like ours;
Your lives showed us the way
To find abundant life in Christ.
And that's why we're here today."

(Chorus)

One by one they're coming
Far as the eye can see
Each life somehow touched
By your lives of charity.

Jesus is glorified
From the west unto the east
Through the lives that you gave
And now you're seated at the feast.

Now that you're in heaven
So many more will come.
As you laid down your lives
The Father's will was done.

Now Jesus takes your hand
And you stand before the Lord.
He says, "Children look around you.
Great is your reward."

(Chorus twice)

The example of my parents lives is truly a testimony to the love and glory of our Heavenly Father.  I still miss them so much, but I know they are unimaginably happy in the arms of the Lord.
posted by Scott Elliott at 12:25am 03/15/06 :: link
Late in the afternoon Iraqi local time, exactly one year ago today, God completed His mission in the lives of my Mom and Dad.  When terrorists decimated their car with automatic gunfire, my parents, Larry and Jean Elliott, along with two other missionaries, Karen Watson and David McDonnall, stepped into eternity and were welcomed into the arms of their loving Savior, Jesus Christ.  David's precious wife, Carrie, was critically wounded in the incident and still carries the scars from the attack.

Dear Mom and Dad,
March 15, 2004 began as any other day.  Just 4 days earlier I celebrated my birthday.  I was disappointed to have missed your phone call, but the sound of you two singing Happy Birthday on my voice mail was wonderful.  How could I have known that those precious few words would be the last I would ever hear from you on this earth?

The phone rang on the morning of the 15th.  It was Leia.  She was calling me from home, as she often does, but this time the words she spoke sent a chill down my spine.  "Scott, there's been a shooting in Iraq."  Iraq, while a very violent place, is large and shootings were common, so I was uneasy but not overly concerned.  Then a second call from Leia came just a little while later. The shooting had been in the area we knew you were traveling.  I headed home at this point, anxious to know what had happened.  Shortly after arriving at home, we received a call that confirmed our worst fears - your car had been ambushed and both of you were gone.

We all knew when you guys set out for Iraq that it was a dangerous country, yet your children and our spouses all felt peaceful knowing you were answering the call of God in your lives.  As you often said, there is no safer place to be than in the center of God's will.  It is an irony only those who know Jesus can understand that even in violent death, you guys were in God's will and secure in His providence over your lives.

A year has now passed since that fateful day.  Your children and our families are faring well.  Not a day goes by that we don't think of you and long to hear your voices and feel your embrace.  But we are comforted by the knowledge that you are enjoying your reward, to the glory of God, for all eternity.  So many things I'd like to share with you.  So much has happened.  You are no longer here with us in body, yet your lives and your example continue to have an enormous impact on so many people.  Truly you lived out Jesus' command when He said, "Live in such a way that men may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

I am grateful to God that He allowed me to see how willing and obedient, yet imperfect humans can be used by Him in such a mighty way.  May He continue to be glorified through your example!  Your witness, your unshakeable faith, and your steadfast commitment to Him have been such an encouragement to me as I try, through His strength, to follow His will in my own life.  I'm sure countless others would say the same thing.

I don't know if you can read this letter from where you are.  I'm too mortal to understand how eternity and heaven all work.  But, if you can read it, I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart, "I love you, Mom, I love you, Dad." Someday we'll be together again.  Nothing can fully take away the pain and loss we still feel without you, yet that assurance provides comfort that is real and substantial.  I can't wait to see you again.  It brings to mind another truth that Paul referred to when he said, "Oh, death, where is thy victory?  Oh, death, where is thy sting?"

Your son,
Scott

posted by Scott Elliott at 1:10pm 03/15/05 :: link
The news of my parents' death has been received by millions the world over.  Many have responded with notes of sympathy for me and my family through comments on this site and through emails.  I have read them all and cried over many of them.  My heart is truly blessed by the outpouring of support.

In response to many, many people who have asked how they can help, we have asked the International Mission Board, who sponsored my parents, to initiate a memorial fund in my parents' names to further the work to which they devoted their lives.  If you are one who would like to contribute, you can send a check made out to "The International Mission Board" with the designation, "Larry and Jean Elliott Memorial Fund" or simply "Elliott Fund" somewhere on the check to:

The Larry and Jean Elliott Memorial Fund
c/o The International Mission Board
P.O. Box 6767
Richmond, VA  23230
Thank you very much.
posted by Scott Elliott at 6:30pm 03/17/04 :: link
In loving memory...

Larry Thomas Elliott (1943-2004)     Jean Dover Elliott (1945-2004)    

Jesus Christ was glorified in their lives.  He will be glorified in their deaths.

posted by Scott Elliott at 6:38pm 03/15/04 :: link
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