Missionary, pastor killed in wrong way crash on way to preach

The late Pastor Dean Elliott, 63.
The late Pastor Dean Elliott, 63. | YouTube/ABC News affilaite 13 on Your Side

A beloved missionary and pastor who was driving to preach at a local church in Michigan on Sunday has died after a wrong-way crash that state police say might have been triggered by a drunk driver.

Pastor Dean Elliott, 63, of Byron Center and a ministry called Abounding Hope, died after the crash on U.S. 131 at around 8:30 a.m. Authorities cited by MLive said the accident happened on the northbound lanes of U.S. 131 just south of Burton Street.  

The wrong way driver, a 30-year-old Grand Rapids man, was critically injured.

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“Over the years and throughout the state, we’ve implemented measures to prevent wrong-way drivers and we will continue to do so. We’ve installed additional wrong way signage, adjusted the height of wrong way signs, added reflective delineators, and installed wrong way detection systems,” a statement from MDOT said. “All interchanges are peppered with large red and white signs that say WRONG WAY DO NOT ENTER. The only common factor with these types of crashes is that the driver has been impaired in some way.”

Pastor Patrick Pointer, who recently stepped down from leading Manistee Assembly of God due to medical issues, said Elliott was on his way to preach at the church Sunday when he was killed.

“My heart weighs heavy in a broken state. As many of you know, I had to step down from serving as the Pastor of Manistee Assembly of God in January, due to medical issues. Since then, our church does not have a Pastor and has been receiving pastoral care from week to week from guest speakers, pastors, missionaries and evangelists. Yesterday, April 2, 2023, Pastor, Missionary Evangelist Dean Elliot died in a traffic accident when on his way to speak at MAG's Sunday Service,” he revealed in a statement on Facebook Monday.

“My heart is broken at the losses involved. Yesterday marked the ‘Triumphal Entry’ of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem during this Easter season ... Dean celebrated his own triumphal entry into Heaven and the arms of Jesus!” he added. “Prayers for his family and friends and all of those who are in the state of grieving at this tragedy. We know that Dean loved the call of God on his life and died in pursuit of his passion for serving Jesus Christ.”

Since 2003, Elliot and his wife, Brenda, have run a ministry called Abounding Hope, focused on evangelizing Eurasia, primarily in India. According to the website, their ministry carried them to 58 countries on five continents.

Pastor Joe Coffman of Northpoint Assembly of God in Holland, who said he has known Elliot for decades, told MLIVE that he was a “missionary evangelist.”

“He was a wonderful guy. He loved his family, and he loved the church,” Coffman said.

M. Wayne Benson, president and founder of Paraclete Ministries in Huntsville, Alabama, who says he has known Elliot since his youth, praised him and his wife on their website for their commitment to ministry.

“I have known Dean since his youth and had the privilege of seeing his spiritual growth and development. The call of God became apparent in his life as a young man and he pursued missions’ evangelism, traveling with people of profile such as David and Beth Grant,” Benson wrote.

“Dean’s passion for the lost was then expressed through church planting and home missions in Michigan. Today, there is a congregation in Kentwood, Michigan, as a direct result of Dean’s leadership and the support of his wife, Brenda,” he said. “They are people of integrity and models of Christ’s love.”

Along with his widow, Elliot leaves behind two adult children.


Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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