Each year, the Dawson Award recognizes a minister's wife for making a distinct denominational contribution beyond the local church and for her Christian character and service to others.
"Thank you for this honor for me, but for me, this is awkward," Elliff said. "I serve 2,578 women who serve the Lord in the hard places in the world. Really, I want to receive this award in honor of these women, many of whom are in places we cannot even say out loud. They'll never receive this type of award so I accept it on behalf of them."
Elliff's husband Tom pastored four different churches in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. The Elliffs served as IMB missionaries in Zimbabwe. Later, after serving as IMB's vice president of spiritual renewal, Tom accepted the top post in 2011.
In her role with IMB, Elliff is known by many for her love, support and intercessory prayer for the missionaries.
Elliff also has served alongside her husband when he was president of the Southern Baptist Convention for two consecutive terms and president of the SBC Pastors' Conference.
A Bible teacher for the past 35 years, Elliff has depended on her faith through many difficult trials, including a terrorist attack on her car in Zimbabwe, which resulted in broken bones and burns to her oldest daughter; a church fire in Tulsa; massive church debt in Oklahoma City; their home completely destroyed by fire while on a trip; having their townhouse destroyed by an F-4 tornado only three months later; and facing the difficult battle of two rounds of breast cancer.
The Elliffs have four grown children: Beth, married to Tom Cox with eight children; Amy, married to David Jorobe with six children; Sarah, married to Greg Mann with six children; and Jon, married to Becky with five children. Several of her children have served or are currently serving on the mission field.
The Willie Turner Dawson Award was established in 1963 when the ministers' wives group posthumously honored Willie Turner Dawson, wife of J.M. Dawson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. Willie Turner Dawson was a teacher and lecturer who in 1930 successfully challenged the Southern Baptist Convention to give more to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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