They are globe-trotters, live out of a suitcase most of the year, travel all over Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and many other places – and both are in their seventies!
This amazing couple is Stuart and Jill Briscoe, ministers-at-large for Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, WI. Their work takes them throughout the world into large cities, small towns and rural backcountry areas where they provide leadership training and support to missionaries in the field, fledging churches as well as pastors and lay leaders. Last year alone, they traveled to 18 countries on 5 continents including Romania, China, India, Congo, New Zealand, Australia, England, Austria, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Scotland, Germany, Ireland, Thailand, Canada and others.
Some expected the Briscoes to retire from ministry when Stuart stepped down as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church, 777 S. Barker Road, Brookfield, WI, in 2000. After all, who would blame him… for 30 years he served as senior pastor of Elmbrook, a nondenominational Christian church, that grew from a mere 300 to an astonishing 7,000 regular attendees, becoming the largest church in Wisconsin and planting eight other churches. What many didn't realize is that Stuart's "retirement" from Elmbrook Church simply allowed the Briscoes to return to their starting point and their passion… worldwide ministry and outreach.
The Briscoe's' journey began in England. Both Stuart and Jill were born there, he in Cumbria, in 1930 and Jill in Liverpool in 1935. Stuart was born into a Christian home. Upon graduating from high school at age 17, he immediately moved into the working world of banking. Around this time, he also formed a band with his brother and a friend and began traveling, performing and preaching. Jill didn't encounter her faith until an illness sent her to a hospital at age 18. She tells the story of meeting a roommate at the hospital who shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with her and she became a Christian. Upon graduating with a teaching degree, Jill returned to Liverpool where she taught and initiated an outreach ministry to the youth of the city.
Stuart and Jill met at a youth conference in Capernwray Hall in England. They married in 1958 and in 1959, both Stuart and Jill left their careers - his in banking and hers in teaching - to work full time for Torchbearers, an international Christian Ministry organization involved in evangelism and Bible teaching. Stuart traveled around the world evangelizing and Jill remained at Capernwray Hall, raising their three children, Dave, Judy and Pete, and continuing outreach ministries. While traveling throughout the U.S. as part of Torchbearers, he met members of Elmbrook Church. They were seeking a pastor; Stuart was feeling led to find a home church that would value outreach but also allow him to reduce the traveling that kept him away from his family for up to nine months at a time.
In 1970, Stuart, with Jill's blessing, accepted the invitation to come to Elmbrook Church and serve as its pastor. Thus began a 30-year relationship with the Briscoes. Although not officially on staff, Jill began the children's ministry and women's ministry at the church. In addition to that, Jill began an international teaching and speaking ministry and in 1990 began a newsletter for pastors' wives called Just Between Us. Just Between Us has since grown into a quarterly four-color magazine with subscribers in 75 countries and all 50 states.
In 1998, after decades on local radio, Stuart and Jill's recorded teaching began distribution around the United States and United Kingdom as a Bible-based radio broadcast called Telling the Truth.
In 2005, their youngest son Pete, senior pastor of Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Dallas, a megachurch in suburban Dallas, Texas, joined the broadcast, becoming a third contributor to the Bible teaching. In 2007, Pete, who holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, took over as host of the program. Telling the Truth is now broadcast on dozens of radio outlets throughout the United States including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Detroit, Seattle and Milwaukee as well as London, Seoul (spring 2008) and via satellite across Europe and ten countries in southern Africa. The half-hour daily program can also be heard on the Internet at tellingthetruth.org, Oneplace.com and through iTunes via free streaming audio, MP3 download and podcasting.
While not in the pulpit on most Sundays anymore, Stuart's passion for outreach and evangelizing continues as the couple travels to the four corners of the world as part of their roles as Elmbrook's ministers-at-large. Stuart and Jill have been asked why they don't slow down but instead keep going so much and so far. Stuart's reply? "Because we're invited."
The Briscoes continue their mission to provide support and training to those across the world including visits to Thailand, Peru, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Spain, Canada, Egypt, Germany, East Africa and numerous restricted-access countries, as well as stops closer to home in Texas, California, Tennessee, Arkansas, Illinois and Iowa. They continue to call suburban Milwaukee home and for the few months they spend there, they enjoy time with their children and 13 grandchildren.