Our Testimony

We would like to take a moment to share with you how the Lord has worked and led in our lives. Unlike many of the people of Papua New Guinea, we both had the privilege ever since we were children of knowing the Scriptures that are able to make us wise unto salvation through the faith that is in Christ Jesus. We were each raised in a Christian home where we were faithfully taught the Bible from a very young age. Jeff’s introduction to missions came early because his childhood home was Niger, Africa, where he was born to missionary parents. Elizabeth grew up in Powhatan, Virginia, where her parents served faithfully in their local church. We were each led to the Lord by a parent at an early age and are so thankful for our godly heritage and our parents’ dedicated ministry in our lives.

As we grew older God gave us both a burden for missions. Even after his parents returned to the States when he was eleven, Jeff’s early years of living on the mission field continued to be very influential in burdening his heart for the spiritual needs of people in other parts of the world. Missions conferences were always a highlight and great reminder of the need for world missions, and it was during a missions conference while he was in ninth grade that he dedicated his life to missions. The many missionaries Elizabeth’s parents regularly hosted in their home and prayed for during family devotions every night made a real impression on her life, and her interest in full-time Christian service grew throughout her teenage years.

Following high school, we each had the privilege of attending a Christian college where we both received a good solid education that focused on the Word of God. Jeff attended Piedmont Baptist College, majoring in Bible and missionary aviation, and Elizabeth attended Bob Jones University, where she majored in Bible and took extra classes in missions and linguistics. While in college, the Lord continued to confirm in each of our hearts that His desire was for us to serve on the mission field. Elizabeth was particularly influenced by missions-minded friends made through Mission Prayer Band, a student organization that met four evenings a week to pray for missionaries, and her pastor, Dr. Mark Minnick of Mount Calvary Baptist Church, whose often-repeated challenge was, “Go unless you’ve been called to stay!”

We love to think about how incredible it is that the Lord led each of us separately to the same little highlands village of Kiari, Papua New Guinea. In 2003 God closed the doors on other summer missions internship possibilities and opened the door to PNG, where He gave Jeff a burden for reaching the people in the remote regions of that country. After graduation from college, while continuing to pray and seek the Lord’s clear direction in his life, Jeff was introduced to Gospel Fellowship Association through Pastor Marshall Fant, the pastor of his home church, Harvest Baptist Church in Rock Hill, SC. He began praying about the possibility of serving with the team of GFA missionaries in Papua New Guinea. In September 2006 he was able to make a survey trip and visit the GFA ministries in PNG. Through this and other circumstances the Lord continued to lead him and increase his burden for these people. After completing his deputation work, Jeff arrived in Kiari as a single career missionary in September 2009. Little did he know that he would find one of the greatest blessings of his life in PNG!

Meanwhile, after a church missions trip in 2007, Elizabeth Ellinghausen had her heart set on going to Zambia. She had fallen in love with the people and the ministry there and was studying all she could about African culture and even the local language, but in April 2009 the Lord definitely closed that door. About the same time she heard that a friend who had been teaching at a Christian school in Papua New Guinea unexpectedly had to return home. She prayed for her and for someone to take her place, but it never occurred to her that the Lord had any plans for HER in that direction! However, the next Sunday a godly mentor asked if she would consider filling that very need. Elizabeth was stunned! She agreed to pray about it, but didn’t want to change gears from Africa to New Guinea unless the Lord really made it obvious that this was what He wanted her to do. She didn’t even know where PNG was, had barely heard of Kiari, didn’t know anyone there, and had always said that she would NEVER be a teacher! Well, as she found out, God really does have a way of making Himself clear! He brought the question to her mind over and over, Elizabeth, are you willing to go anywhere I ask you to go? She was surprised at her parents and other godly counselors’ enthusiasm about the idea, and it soon became evident that this was indeed what the Lord would have her to do. A quote from Mrs. C. H. Spurgeon was a special encouragement to Elizabeth at the time and really has come true in our situation: “It is a mercy that our lives are not left for us to plan, but that our Father chooses for us; else might we sometimes turn away from our best blessings, and put from us the choicest and loveliest gifts of His providence.” Though it wasn’t what she would have chosen at first, the Lord worked in Elizabeth’s heart and made her truly willing and excited to go. She wrote to her friends, “I believe with all my heart that this calling is a choice and lovely gift from the Lord, and I can’t wait to see how He will work!” Though she didn’t know it, not only would she love teaching, but God also had one of His sweetest, most wonderful gifts of her whole life waiting for her in Kiari, PNG! We are both so grateful to the Lord for graciously helping her to trust Him and obey His loving leading in her life at this time.

And so the story goes: After a year of waiting on government paperwork (another loving allowance from the Lord), Elizabeth arrived in Kiari in June 2010. The more she saw of Jeff the more she admired his quiet faithfulness and humility. She thought he must be super lonely and prayed that God would provide a wife for him… even if it wasn’t her! Unbeknownst to her, he was lonely and would sometimes stand up on the cliff by the old school, praying for the Lord to give him a wife. After her arrival in Kiari Jeff had been quickly impressed with Elizabeth’s godly spirit and how she was always finding ways to help others. Soon he started to pray about her and ask the Lord to clearly direct him! As we were thrown together in ministry activities over the next several months we both started to notice how many things we agreed about… and how much we liked each other. We started dating in January 2011. The more we got to know each other, the more obvious it became that the Lord had made and prepared us for each other. At the time, due to our individual responsibilities and our coworkers’ upcoming furlough, we didn’t see any way that we could get married anytime soon, but we just prayed about it and told each other that the Lord had it all planned out so much better than we ever could, so we could trust Him to take care of it. And He did! We were able to return to the States and be married in Virginia on July 23, 2011 and returned to PNG a few weeks later, where we have been serving ever since.

We would like to thank and praise the Lord from the bottom of our hearts for His loving hand in bringing this all about. He has been incredibly good to us!!! One of Elizabeth’s college professors remarked with regard to Ephesians 3:20 that we're usually not willing to ask everything that we think of, but our God is able to give us exceeding abundantly above even what we would ever think! He has certainly done that in our lives, exceeding what we would have ever dreamed of, much less asked for! We are very, very blessed. Please join us in praising our loving Lord for His exceeding, abundant goodness to us.