Contributors / Justin Taylor

Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015)

June 15, 2015

Elisabeth Elliot (née Howard; born December 21, 1926) died this morning (June 15, 2015) at the age of 88.

She was a beautiful woman of whom the world was not worthy.

Here is her brief testimony, told in her typically understated way:
My parents were missionaries in Belgium where I was born. When I was a few months old, we came to the U.S. and lived in Germantown, not far from Philadelphia, where my father became an editor of the Sunday School Times. . . .

Our family continued to live in Philadelphia and then in New Jersey until I left home to attend Wheaton College. By that time, the family had increased to four brothers and one sister. My studies in classical Greek would one day enable me to work in the area of unwritten languages to develop a form of writing.

A year after I went to Ecuador, Jim Elliot, whom I had met at Wheaton, also entered tribal areas with the Quichua Indians. In nineteen fifty three we were married in the city of Quito and continued our work together. Jim had always hoped to have the opportunity to enter the territory of an unreached tribe. The Aucas were in that category—a fierce group whom no one had succeeded in meeting without being killed. After the discovery of their whereabouts, Jim and four other missionaries entered Auca territory. After a friendly contact with three of the tribe, they were speared to death.

Our daughter Valerie was 10 months old when Jim was killed. I continued working with the Quichua Indians when, through a remarkable providence, I met two Auca women who lived with me for one year. They were the key to my going in to live with the tribe that had killed the five missionaries. I remained there for two years.

After having worked for two years with the Aucas, I returned to the Quichua work and remained there until 1963 when Valerie and I returned to the U.S.

Since then, my life has been one of writing and speaking. It also included, in 1969, a marriage to Addison Leitch, professor of theology at Gordon Conwell Seminary in Massachusetts. He died in 1973. After his death I had two lodgers in my home. One of them married my daughter, the other one, Lars Gren, married me. Since then we have worked together.

She was the author of several books, many dealing with themes of suffering, loneliness, singleness, manhood and womanhood, and family.

Among her best-known books are those that told the story of her first husband, Jim Elliot, and their mission together in Ecuador: Through Gates of Splendor (1957), Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot (1958), The Savage My Kinsman (1961), and The Journals of Jim Elliot (1978).

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