A woman of faith: Elisabeth Elliot

I’m currently on vacation with Tony–staying in a house on a deserted beach in Eleuthera (Bahamas). This article about Elisabeth Elliot is a repost.

Our deserted pink-sand beach

“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of christian,But the fact that I am a christian does make me a different kind of woman.” Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth’s parents were missionaries in Belgium, which is where she was born, but they returned to the States when she was just a few months old, and she was brought up near Philadelphia.

Elisabeth went to Wheaton College where she studied classical Greek in the knowledge that this would help her translate the Bible into the languages of unreached people groups. She met her first husband, Jim, while she was there. Following college she went to Ecuador to work with the  Quichua Indians. A year later, Jim also came to work with the  Quichua. Jim and Elisabeth were married in Quito in 1953.

Jim had always had a heart for unreached people groups. The Aucus, a fierce tribe who killed everyone who came into contact with them, were  not too far away. Jim and four others determined to reach them and so made a trip into their territory in 1956. They made friendly contact with three of the tribe members but then all of them were speared to death. As Jim said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Left alone with a 10 month old daughter, Elisabeth Elliot continued work with the Quichua tribe. Then God led her to two Auca women who were living amongst the Quichua, whom she invited to live with her. They stayed for a whole year, and taught her and fellow missionary, Rachel Saint, the Huao language spoken by the Aucas. One of the two Auca ladies was the key to Elisabeth being able to live and work with the Aucas, the people who had killed her husband. She spent two years with them with her three-year-old daughter, Valerie, and Rachel. She then returned to her work with the Quichuas, finally going back to the States in 1963.

Since then she has led a very productive life, speaking and writing. She became an adjunct professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and was one of the stylistic consultants for the New International Version of the Bible. She also remarried, and now works with her current husband. She is one of the most influential Christian women of our day.

Photo credit:www.elisabethelliot.org

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Chris

    Elizabeth Elliott has no doubt accomplished the things this post lists. But I’m a little surprised to find a post praising her here on this site. I thought you were an egalitarian. Were you aware that Elliott believes in top-down male hierarchy? She is a staunch patriarchalist who says things like, “The first woman was made specifically for the first man, a helper, to meet, respond to, surrender to,
    and complement him…” I find that utterly repugnant, representing as it does not only a hierarchical view of marriage, but elsewhere in the article even the heresy of subordination of the Son in the Trinity. Here are a couple of links in case you’d like to read them: an excerpt from her book, and an interview with her on Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, a notorious patriarchalist.
    http://www.realpeacework-akademie.info/graz/e/women/Essence.pdf

    http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/courage-be-woman/

    Reading these, I am affronted all over again by the deception of the enemy of our souls who would drive a gender wedge between God’s people in order to keep us divided instead of united. Hopefully you didn’t mean to promote Elliott’s ideas on this.

    • felicitydale

      I was not aware of her opinions on this. I read the articles (sigh) and I suspect she was a product of her generation. My mother-in-law, who was a wonderful Christian missionary would probably be similar. They both have done great things in the Kingdom, and both lived at a time when it would have been very difficult to have an alternative viewpoint on this and it probably was not something the Holy Spirit was doing. As you note, over the years I have become an egalitarian. But there are some things she wrote in the articles I agree with–like femininity. I don’t think a woman needs to be like a man in order to lead.