Bert and Jim Elliot: A Streaking Meteor and a Faithful Star

Greg Strand – September 23, 2014 2 Comments

Michael Kelley, Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life (Nashville: B & H, 2013), 205-206, writes of the providence of God in the lives of brothers. The one name we know very well; the other we have not likely heard of at all. In both cases, faithfulness to the call of God was central.


Jim Elliot’s story is a familiar one, but have you heard of Bert? I had not. But by God’s grace, I have now, thanks to a message given by Randy Alcorn fifty years after the men died on the beach in Ecuador. Bert is Jim Elliot’s older brother. He’s the one who isn’t famous.

He was a student at Multnomah Bible College in 1949, and he and his young wife were invited by a missionary to come to Peru and join the work there. Other than an occasional furlough, there they have stayed. Now in their eighties, they are still there.

According to Alcorn, if you Google Bert, you find less than seventy entries. But over the years, Bert and Colleen have planted more than 170 churches. And when asked to reflect on his brother, Jim, Bert’s response is stirring: “My brother Jim and I took different paths. He was a great meteor, streaking through the sky.”

Bert was not. He did not go streaking through the sky. Nobody lined up with their telescopes to watch his life. Instead, as Alcorn puts it, he was the faint star in the distance that faithfully rises night after night, always there. Always faithful. Always doing the same, boring thing.

In the kingdom of God, there is a great need for streaking meteors, but most of us won’t be that. We will instead be faint stars—husbands and fathers, wives and mothers. We will be accountants and teachers, business people, and students. We will go through life, day after day, doing very much the same thing tomorrow that we did today.

The important thing for us to remember is that we are needed. There is a great need for people willing to chase the little donkeys of life, not because it’s exciting but because they believe in the constant presence and purpose of God. There is a great need for people willing to stand in the midst of the boring, convinced that there is no such thing as ordinary when you follow an extraordinary God.

Rise and stand. Then tomorrow, do it again.

Whether a streaking meteor or a faithful star, God uses the ordinary to accomplish his extraordinary purposes. Be faithful!

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

2 responses to Bert and Jim Elliot: A Streaking Meteor and a Faithful Star

  1. thanks Greg for this great reminder that being a faint star can have a mighty impact for the kingdom and that it is about faithfulness, not brilliance. Also that God has different paths for each of us and to allow God to use us in whichever path He chooses.

    • I am grateful this was an encouragement to you, Gloria. It is not to downplay or undermine the “streaking metaphor.” But generally that one is the one that gets emphasized. Instead, it is the “faithful star” that is overlooked, that is no less significant. Many resonate with this because this is the life to which the Lord has called most of us. For us, the key is to be content and faithful, and not to become envious of the life and ministry to which God has called someone else. We have a good reminder/lesson when Peter asked Jesus about John. Jesus’ replied, “what is that to you? You follow me” (Jn. 20:22)! There would be no comparison or calling into question the Lord’s providential plan for any. Each must follow Him faithfully!

Leave a Reply to Gloria Cancel reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>