John Chapman Elliott: License to Kill
By Audra Smith
The 700 Club
During the late ‘60s, John Elliot was one of the sharpest shooters in the world. By the age of 19, his ability with firearms earned him the attention of the U.S. government. He was hired by the U.S. State Department and trained at Quantico. John was barely an adult, but his life was suddenly all about death.
“Back then the Vietnam War was going hot and heavy, and behind the scenes there was something, called the Secret War, I found myself heading out over the Pacific and that was the first time, on that airplane that I got to thinking ‘What is this that I’ve gotten myself into? I’m not quite sure about this.’”
John was born in 1946 and because his father worked for Pan Am Airlines, he spent the majority of his childhood in England. He went to school there but nurtured dreams of becoming a U.S. Olympian.
“My father used to smoke cigarettes. When I caught him smoking a cigarette, I did a little bit of extortion. I said, ‘If you will give me a BB gun, I won’t tell mom.’ I practiced every single day in the back garden. I knew I was going to win gold for the States in Olympics shooting.”
When John returned to America at age 19, he entered a shooting competition sponsored by the Virginia State Police. He was the first to score a perfect 300 in the competition.
Recruiters were ready to talk. Before he knew it, John was overseas. His assignment? To kill a General and a Colonel involved with The North Vietnamese Army. John was now a paid assassin.
“I had to wait for those people to show up for 2, almost 3 days and during that period of time, I just laid there and thought about it a lot. I knew that I was going to finish this and do what I was being paid to do. I thought it would be for the greater good. I was actually convinced of the fact. I thought of all those reasons for doing it, never thinking, that, ‘Here it is, I’m looking at someone and I am going to take that person’s life.’”
John successfully killed both targets and two others. His career was set, but his emotions were starting to unravel.
“Every time I went overseas I never thought I would be coming back. I was really so frightened then. You could open up a book and read about a war, and you can read about the facts about it, but, you can’t actually experience it. You can’t smell it. You can’t taste it. You can’t feel it. You can’t go through those emotions. It changed me dramatically. I still continued in the work, but for me it became something I didn’t like at all, and it just tore away at my insides. I never talked about what I did but it affected me deeply, anyway.”
When John returned to Virginia, he attended a service at a local Baptist church.
“I thought there was no way I would ever go to church. I actually didn’t believe. I didn’t believe. But that night, the pastor talked about forgiveness of sins, and he said, ‘If you just come to God, no matter what your sin is. It can be little. It can be big. Whatever it is. You just come to God. You lay your life in front of God, and ask Him to forgive you, and He will. He will take that sin from you and you will be saved.’ I knew he was talking to me, and I found myself walking up and accepting the Lord as my Lord and Savior.”
But after accepting Christ, John still had to go to work. “It was a pull. The money was an attraction. The fact that I knew what I was doing and I could do it. After the Lord came into my life, it became excruciatingly difficult to continue in the work. I did continue it, and I don’t have an excuse for that. I think, when I rationalized it, I thought, ‘I know now that if I die, I know where I am going. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.’ and I thought, OK, I can do pretty much anything I want to do.’ It went from bad to worse for me.”
Despite his internal conflict, John continued to work for the State Department. He even joined forces with Mossad in Israel and spent many years working with Interpol. John was still a paid assassin and was involved in the deaths of many high profile targets.
“I carry around a lot of those ghosts. I still think about it today, and I can still see some of those images today, all these years after the fact.”
A colleague John met while on assignment was also Christian and began to talk with John about going in a different direction.
“It was his influence over my life at that time that sort of really made me think about what I was doing. Even though he was doing the same thing for a very short period of time he said, ‘John I just can’t do this anymore. This is not what you and I are put here for.’ He explained what his Christian faith meant to him. I just had to make a decision about what I was going to do with my life.”
In 2003, John retired from the State Department. “I told the State Department. I said, ‘I just cannot do this anymore. This isn’t me. I have too many internal conflicts. God is telling me something else.’”
Today, John lives a quiet life close to his family and is the author of 11 books, including The August Assassin, which details many of his missions with the State Department and shares his newfound hope in God’s forgiveness.
“I am so thankful for what God has done in my life and how He has changed my life and how He has managed to take this train wreck that was going in one direction and just turn it 180 degrees around and make it go in another direction. It’s just absolutely wonderful. He is everything to me. What you do in your life, no matter where you are in your life, no matter how bad you think you are, God can forgive you of anything – of absolutely anything. Christ died on the cross for all of those sins, not just a few of them – for all of them. You can get forgiveness. You can have salvation.”
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.