Wednesday, December 12, 2012


As a freshman in college I was to give a testimony during an outreach program.  I didn’t think I had much of a testimony…I was raised by great Christian parents, went to church all my life, and was saved from my sins through baptism at age 10.  My testimony was 'boring'.   Everyone else seemed to have really ‘cool’ testimonies.  So, I asked God let me have a 'cool' testimony for Him, too.  I realize now that God had already given me a great testimony, but He allowed me to go through trials to have one of those ‘cool’ ones, too.  (My post on “Living Water in the Desert” shares part of my testimony.)

The word ‘testimony’ what does it really mean?  We use it as an evidence, a proof, a divine decree. At Mount Sinai God gave the ‘tablets of the Testimony’ to Moses (Ex 31:18).  Testimony here comes from the Hebrew word עֵדוּת which means ‘witness’.  These tablets of stone were a witness of God interaction with people on earth.  He created a testimony with people in the Bible.  Examples of few of these testimonies:  He parted the Red Sea God through Moses, parted the Jordan River through Joshua, Elijah was fed by ravens and then a widow who had just enough oil and flour every day to fix the food, a virgin gave birth to the Son of God, the temple tax money was found in the mouth of a fish, and Lazarus was raised from the dead through Jesus, and Jesus conquered death!

A God-ordained testimony is when something happens which cannot be explained by natural means.  

Several years ago there was a bill for a certain amount and there was no money to pay it by the due date.  We prayed for God’s help since we knew only He could provide a miracle for us.  On the day before it had to be sent, in the mail there was a check from a friend who wrote, “I don’t know why you need this, but God put on my heart to send this amount to you.”  The amount was not the right amount needed…it was the exact amount needed plus the cost of a postage stamp, to the penny!  We hadn't even seen or talked with this friend in a couple of years!

Nine years ago we were preparing to host a foreign exchange student in six weeks.  As the rains came down as I went to sleep after the July 4th fireworks I didn't think much about it until my daughter called up from her room an hour and a half later saying that things were floating!    I turned on the light to see knee deep water in the lower level of my house!  It continued to rain all night.  We prayed for God's mercy and help all night long.  When the sun came out the next morning there was three feet of dirty water in the very room the student was to stay!  We were evacuated by boat!  It is amazing the power of a flood, even a waterbed was moved to the center of the bedroom.  As the waters receded the filth was awful.  The task facing my family was overwhelming.  A couple days later my boss asked how he could help.  I could only say "I need hands" to clear out two rooms and a garage before any repair work could be started.  Two hours later ten people from my work showed up to provide twenty extra hands!  In just four hours the contents of the lower level was by the road for the trash man and the floors were clean!  Then a close friend from church asked if he could oversee the renovation of the house.  There were volunteers who came to help remove walls, clean the studs, dry it all out, drywall, mud, and paint!  We were living back in the house with a week to spare before our exchange student arrived!

Remembering these experiences still gives me goose bumps!  I know Who is in control.  He works through people for His glory!

Through Team Expansion I’m preparing to go to Italy to be a witness for God to the unreached of Verona.  Just like that bill of years ago, I don’t have the money that is required for me to go.  I'm not allowed to work, other than the mission, while in Italy.  Again I’m praying for God’s intervention through the hearts of people.  Jesus said, “…with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:26)  This will be a testimony of God's provision.

During my trainings I have met many other missionary families preparing to go on the field.  Several are already on the field.  One family of eight leaves today for the mission field.  Some, like me, are still in partner raising or fundraising. I truly believe God does and will provide! 

What’s your testimony?  Are you willing to allow God to show His power through your life for His glory?

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Trainings are Done ... the Next Step

The Team Expansion required training sessions are finished.   I have been truly blessed by this 'requirement'.

Mission Training International's two programs were not just required, but essential!  

The SPLICE course has changed the way I look at going into another culture to live.  I thought I had a pretty good grasp of things, which I did.  But, the things I knew were improved upon; things I did not know were learned; and the things I hadn't even thought about were revealed.  Well done, SPLICE!

PILAT (Program in Language Acquisition Training) was another training I thought I would be just check-boxing.  My mouth went through a Boot Camp exercise program that would leave me exhausted, but looking forward to the next drill session.  

Then the techniques demonstrated in learner lead language learning was remarkable!  My small group's practice language was French.  In three morning sessions we all comprehended more of the language than I thought was possible in such a short time.  We learned how to teach ourselves with a language helper.  The language helper was there to assist us.  He did not 'teach' us anything in a 'normal' manner, but we learned!  What an awesome concept.  I know first hand how this can work.  I can't wait to try this out.  (Is there someone who speaks Italian in Kokomo who would be willing to be my language helper?

The final training, KAIROS, helped me see God's plan for the world.  From the very beginning of time God has loved us and had a plan for salvation.  God's love is not just the Israelites, or just the Jews, not just the Christians, but the whole world.  We need to be making disciples of all nations for Him.

Now what?

I'm ready to go, right?  

Everyone asks me "when are you going?"  

I want to be like some friends of mine who just announced today the have their plane tickets bought!  This family of eight has believed in this calling, too and has been raising support since August 2011.  They now have all the people they need who are willing to send them.  I'd love to be like some other missionaries I've meet during these trainings who are already on the field where God has called them to serve.  

But ... I can't go ... yet.  I need to have 100% of my support committed before that can happen.  

How does the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) affect you?  As a Christian you are commanded make disciples of all nations, right?  Not everyone can physically go to the nations, but you could you help someone go.  Prayers for this mission are needed as well as money. Has God blessed you?  Did you know you can't out give God?  The Bible is clear in II Corinthians 9:6-15 saying, "...whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously."  "...God loves a cheerful giver."  "This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God." (vs 12)

If God is speaking to your heart to partner financially with this work in Italy, please let me know by emailing me at   It's exciting to know 170 people have already committed to pray regularly for this mission.  If you are willing commit to pray for me on this journey, I need to know that, too. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blessed by Required Training

It was required of me to go to Mission Training International (MTI) in Colorado for some training before heading to the mission field.  I had to be gone for five weeks.  This first three weeks has been called SPLICE.  SPLICE is an acronym for Spiritual, Personal, Lifestyle, Interpersonal, Cultural, Endurance/Enjoyment. 

At first I tried to get out of the training.  My first tactic I used was stating it cost a lot of money.  But doesn’t college training cost a lot, too?  The cost of SPLICE included housing and food.  (The quality of this training has rivaled any college class.)

Then I said I knew a lot about cultural differences.  After all I have had a Pakistani brother-in-law for over 37 years, had exchange students from three different countries live at my house, and gone on short-term mission trips several times.  I really thought I understood the cultural aspect and didn’t need to spend money for this kind of training.

I finally gave in and came to the training.  WOW!  This training has been great.  So much has been covered in the class times and yet it has just scratched the surface.  They gave us homework as well as simulation situations.  We had growth groups and coaching times.  We’ve laughed, cried, and prayed together. 

Well, I thank God that I this training was ‘required’.  It has been three weeks of living in community with other missionaries getting ready to go on the field.  We’ve eaten together, shared common areas together, worshiped together, trained together, as well as had fun together. 

The missionary families here are heading to South America, Central American, Haiti, Mexico, Africa, Europe, Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and Eastern Asia.  There are people leaving for the Middle East the day after we end.  Others will be leaving the country in early October through the end of the year.  There are others of us who are still finding people who will partner with us in our ministry to get us to the field, so we are unsure when we can go.

Next week starts two weeks at MTI for their PILAT program.  This is a training to help missionaries get ready for for language learning.  I’m looking forward to this now, too.

Anyone planning on heading into a new culture for missions, I highly recommend SPLICE.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Living Water in the desert

As I was reading a devotional recently I was struck by the realization I needed to share with you some of my history.  In the devotion ‘God’s Recruitment Strategy for Leaders’, the author wrote, “When God calls one of His servants into service, there is often much travail.  There are many examples where God makes His presence known through circumstances that tax the individual to his very soul.”

He listed Biblical examples of this:  Saul/Paul – blinded on the road; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – thrown in a furnace; Daniel – thrown in a lion’s den; David – had to live as a fugitive.  I thought of Joseph being sold by his brothers!  These situations helped prepare these leaders for their service in the kingdom.

We don’t usually grow deeply in our comfort zone.  In the desert trees can only survive if they push their roots far down to the water table.  These trees can withstand stronger storms better than ones in the tropics.  “In the same way, God brings us into extremely difficult situations in order to prove His power and drive our spiritual roots deeper.”

I graduated from Cincinnati Bible College (now called Cincinnati Christian University).  I married a man going into the youth ministry just six weeks after graduation.  I thought we would live ‘happily ever after’, after all, we were serving God in the local church.

My husband was living two lives.  One life he was a minister and husband; and the other he was a man giving in to the sin of homosexuality. I had known he had been molested as a child and knew he had lived the lifestyle in the past, but he had asked God to forgive him and wanted to live a Godly life.  If God could forgive him, I could forgive his past. 

He hid his sin well, for a while.  I don’t know how many times he would rendezvous with others.  By the time I realized for sure what was going on we were in our third ministry.  Life was hard, very hard. I endured trials through leaving that ministry, trying to be his encourager, moving four times in two years with three young girls.  I read Hosea, often.  I felt like Hosea.  How many times was I to forgive him.

In the dry desert of my life I dug down.  I just wanted to bury myself deeply in the sand.  Maybe the hurt would just go away and I would have my husband back, but as he should be.  Life got harder and as I was digging down, I realized only God would be able to help.  I knew if I dug a little deeper I would reach the Living Water.  I cried out to the Lord and asked Him to help me do what was right. God lead me to confront him and have him choose which lifestyle he was going to follow.  He made his choice and continues to live in that way.

I felt raw, used, stripped to the bone.  I had a big D – divorced – that was mine to wear in shame.  I loved my years in Bible College and being a minister’s wife.  I asked God how could you use me now?  I felt ruined.  The only thing left was to serve God in little ways.  I could try to be a good mom, right?

God hadn’t given up on me.  A few years passed and I was asked to volunteer again at camp.  A couple years later they asked me to dean a week of camp and I was amazed.  Maybe God could still use me.  I felt the call to go into missions about the same time and realized it would be in the future to some unknown place.  “Use me, Lord!” has been my prayer, “I am rooted in You!”

Lord called me, not the ‘on top of the world’ Bible college graduate, not the ‘minister’s wife’, but the broken woman who had to struggle to reach down deeply to cling to the Living Water.  I’m not on this journey alone. 

God has called me to work in Verona, Italy.  I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing there, but I know God has never led me astray.  Where He leads, I will follow.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Traveling Adventures

I'm taking off soon for a very long trip in a car alone.  I'm headed to some training that puts me 2 steps closer to actually moving to the mission field.  I'm excited.  So excited that last week I made my packing list and started getting things gathered together.  I went to the store and bought healthy things to eat along the way.  I've paid all my bills through the end of this month.  I got several books on CD checked out on the vacation plan.  I think I'm ready to put the stuff in the car and take off.  But, I have to wait a bit longer. 

For most people, what I just described might sound very normal for a person going on a long trip.  But, what I normally do is to have things in my mind and wait until the last day or two to gather things together.  Then it is a very short night before I leave.  I'm exhausted to start. 

This time, I am feeling refreshed and ready to go.  I've mapped out my journey, talked to people on the other end, and have a plane ticket for my nephew's wedding (already bought present and it's in the city of the wedding!)  I want to go learn!  SPLICE and PILAT are two training sessions that will help me once I get to Italy.

In other news, I've created a packet of information about my mission.  It has a brochure, a statement of my beliefs, a DVD that is a 3 minute message about who I am and why I feel called to go to Italy, a prayer card for people's refrigerators, etc.  Tomorrow I am going to the area churches and ask to briefly talk to the ministers about this mission.  I'm praying for God to speak through me as I share with them.  I'm going to try this 'cold call' plan because I keep hearing I should get out of my comfort zone. This is not in that zone at all.  I'm excited to see what the Lord will do with this, because it is all for Him anyway!

So, little traveling around tomorrow ... then the big adventure ... all of this leads to the bigger adventure of the mission field.

Fiducia di Dio!  Trust God!

Until next time!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fun D Raising

Fundraising ... it starts with FUN and ends with RAISING, so it sounds pretty exciting!  But that D ... oh is that for Dot or what?  Do I not see the fun in the raising of people to team with this mission for the glory of God?  That should be very exciting!

The fact is this past week has been fun, fun, fun.  Exhausting, but fun!  The kids and the helpers were about 500 strong every night.  That was wonderfully crazy!  I was given the opportunity to talk two different times to different age groups.  I taught them some Italian words - about 5 a night.  In the end they had a repertoire of 35 words and phrases!  I gave them a strip of paper with the English, the Italian, and a picture every night so those interested could work on it at home.  It really helped my pronunciation!  The theme of the week was Trust God!  Fiducia di Dio! (in Italian!)

Then we talked how Italy is different from the USA.  Every night we focused on things, but always got back to the real reason I'm going ... to share Jesus with them!

That was FUN!

Then came the RAISING!  I thought they were a little ambitious with a goal they set.  I thought it would be great, but they are kids, right?   We talked about how apartments come pretty blank ... if you're lucky they have left the toilet!!  I've been blessed with kitchen cabinets, a sink, and a stove that is in storage for me already.  The money that was raised is going toward my start up funds, specifically to help furnish my apartment when I get there. So this VBS raised $4036 to help me have a things in every room!

Now I am at 54% of my start up funds.  This is growing, and I'm excited!

Now, how should I proceed with the fun and raising of the mission monthly support?  I need just under $6000 a month committed before I can go.  I have just over 10% of that committed. So, I'm needing 540 people to commit to $10 a month.  Yes, I know I could say I need just 54 people to commit to $100 a month.  But, I like the more people on board with this mission.  More people committed to write a check means more people thinking and hopefully praying this mission is successful!  Maybe you would be one of those who could commit to more, but maybe $10 is stretching the limit of your pocketbook.  It would only take 1080 people at $5 a month!  WOW ... think of all those people being team mates!

Fundraising!  Fun D(ot) Raising ... not for me, but for His kingdom!

THANK YOU, Chapel Hill Christian Church's VBS

By the way, the GIRLS won!  I helped the children's minister look like a spaghetti dinner!

Fiducia di Dio!

Monday, July 23, 2012

VBS in Kokomo

This week I am the missionary speaker for a Vacation Bible School in Kokomo.  It's a well attended VBS and they love missionaries!   I'm praying God will use these kids to share with their parents about places like Italy who have turned their back on God.

There is a contest, boys vs girls.  Let's pray the girls win!!  Otherwise, I'll be looking pretty good to eat!  Pictures to follow after the week!

I love sharing about this mission with, in a small group, at a church, or even a large VBS!  I'm looking for places to share!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My call for missions

Several years ago I felt the call to go into missions.  I didn’t know when or where, but I said ‘send me, Lord’.  A couple of years passed and I thought, I need to figure this out.  So, I went to Zimbabwe on a mission trip.  It was a very productive trip, but God let me know, that was not where He wanted me to go full time.  

A couple of years later I was able to attend an international deaf ministries conference in Egypt.  Thirty-three countries were represented and I asked the Lord to show me where. At the end of the week it was clear none of those missions were where God was leading me.  I realized I needed to be patient and wait for His direction and timing.  Oh how hard that is. 

The day after returning home, I received a call from the school.  They needed an interpreter for a freshman at the high school which was just two blocks from my home.  OK, Lord, you want me to stay here right here in Kokomo?  Fine, I will serve You there!  (Little did I know he needed me to get back to having the desire and passion to learn while assisting an awesome young man through his high school years.  The challenging classes of the past four years was just what I needed to prepare me for my future.)

Right after New Years my sister reminded me I was turning 50 that year.  She told me she wanted to take me somewhere on a vacation, a real fun vacation.  It was not a mission trip or church camp as I normally do for my vacation times.  I asked her where we were going, all the time thinking Florida or Hilton Head or some place like that.  That's when she told me she wanted us to go to Italy.  My first thought was that's not even on my bucket list of places I want to see, but who in their right mind turns down a trip like that?

So she took me on a special birthday vacation to Italy.  And what a vacation it was.  It started out rough.  We missed the connecting flight to Rome due to an airport issue.  We were able to catch another flight just 45 minutes later to Belgium and then on to Rome.  We would only be five hours behind schedule.  Awesome!  We took the flight.  Our luggage didn't.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5).  Oh, to do Italy with a carry on and a purse.  He knew we needed to lean on Him, trust Him, He would lead.

The first few days I was in art overload.  I LOVE art, but to see it everywhere is a little overwhelming!  It was in the museums, on the ceilings, covering entire walls, on the sidewalk, statutes everywhere, ancient ruins many places, etc.  Most of it was religious art.  Some were of the ancient Roman gods, most was Christian art, as well as modern art.  The churches were filled with art, too.  There were a lot of tourists around.

We were there from Palm Sunday to Good Friday.  I started to notice how these large churches were setting up extra seating.  I asked about it and learned although Italians may belong to a church, they don't have a relationship with Christ.  95% of Italians never go to church. About a percent of Italians are evangelical Christians.  My heart broke for the people of Italy.  I felt the call.  I asked with all sincerety, “Lord, you’re calling me to Italy?”  I thought no one will believe this.

When I got home I was excited.  I thought, now I know where I'm going.  I need to prepare to go.  A friend of mine, a former missionary to Italy talked with me and suggested I pray for six months for God's leading in this before deciding.  I took her advice and doubled it.  I prayed for a year for direction and confirmation.  Then in August 2011, I was accepted as a missionary recruit with Team Expansion to join the team in Verona, Italy.   

Verona is the setting of Romeo and Juliet.  It is about an hour away from Venice and just south of the Austrian Alps.  The climate is very similar to Kokomo, IN, except they don't have snow very often.  There are some disturbing facts about Verona.  Abortion is legal, as is prostitution!  The percentage of people who are evangelical Christians in Verona?  It drops way down to 0.045% of the population of approximately 265,000!  Divorce is at 70%!  They need to know Christ personally.  The people of Italy love their art.  To them it doesn't matter which kind of art it is, ancient, Christian, modern, since it does one thing, bring tourists to their country.

Team Expansion is a mission organization which partners with the church to mobilize, train, and coach qualified workers of church planting movements.  Our core values are 1) to remain faithfully committed to His Word; 2) to work among the unreached; 3) Church planting is the primary long-term goal; 4) to work in teams; 5) to desire, provide, & seek coaching; 6) to extend Grace by having a non-judgmental attitude; and 7) maintain accountability with monthly reporting to the team of prayer and financial partners.  Their goal is to plant 80 indigeous churches by 2015.  They need people to go plant seeds and cultivate a personal relationship of Jesus in people's hearts.

Between Christmas 2011 and Jan 2, 2012, I was in Verona to meet the members of the team already on the field.  We all felt God's peace and look forward to working together.

July 2012 - I am now a full time missionary recruit.  There are trainings at Mission Training International and Team Expansion I will be attending before I go on the field.  The rest of this summer I am looking for prayer and financial partners for the mission.  My goal is to be on the field in Italy in November 2012.  

I would love to count you as one of my prayer partners who have committed to pray regularly for me and this mission.  Would you please consider partnering with me in prayer?  If so, let me know at my email address (  I already have over 100 people committed to pray for me and the mission.  

Team Expansion has set my budget at $5935 a month with one time startup costs of $26,347.  This is not just my living expense, but mostly it is my part of the mission budget.  I can't do this alone.  I need 60 people to partner with me at a $100 a month, 1200 people to partner at $5 a month, or a variety of people to partner with whatever God lays on your heart!  Would you prayerfully consider being one of these people?  A one time gift of any amount is greatly appreciated.  At the end of June I am at 37% of having my start up costs and over 10% of my monthly budget met.  Team Expansion is a non-profit organization so your partnership is tax deductible.

My forwarding agent's name and address is on my newsletter every month.  

Italy needs Jesus.   Please join me in my belief that God has a plan for Verona, Italy.  Please consider partnering with me to bring the light of Jesus to a land that is dark because they have forgotten their first love.  If you can’t go, send me.  I want to make a difference for Him.  

I'm updating this post on December 15, 2012.  

Currently there are 182 partners committed to pray at least monthly for my ministry.
My start up amount committed is at 67.8%  ($17,871.15)
My monthly partners have committed to 15.7% ($931/month)

Praise God from whom all blessing flow.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  Ask God how He wants you to partner with this mission.  I'd love to share this mission with you, your small group, Sunday School class, ladies' group, or any other group or individual interested in learning about this work.

Contact me at

Feel free to follow me on this blog and read the other posts.

In His service,

Dot Elliott
Missionary with Team Expansion to Verona, Italy