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generous heroes of the faith

By Myles Wilson | 16 August 2015

generous faith heroes - a blog by Stewardship


No one goes into mission work to become a hero and those who are considered as heroes almost always pay a very high price for it. In June, one such hero passed away, aged 88, almost 60 years after her husband, another hero of the faith, was brutally murdered by those he sought to serve.

Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth Elliot was the wife of Jim Elliot who, along with four colleagues, was killed in January 1956 by members of the Huaorani tribe in Ecuador. The Huaorani were totally unreached by the gospel and had very little contact with the outside world. They were so fearsome that they were nicknamed Auca, a local word meaning savage.

After initial friendly contact, mostly from a small airplane flown by one of the group, this intrepid group of missionaries eventually met face-to-face with Auca members. But on a subsequent visit all five were killed and their bodies found in the river.

Left as a grieving young widow and single mother of a 10-month old daughter, the easy path would have been for Elisabeth to return home to the US. But she didn’t. She stayed in Ecuador and, less than three years after her husband had been killed, she and Rachel Saint, widow of the pilot of the group that had died, joined the Auca people, taking up the contact that their husbands had begun.

This selfless and fearless decision eventually led to a church being established among the Auca people which still thrives today. Some of those who killed Jim and his colleagues were among the first to trust Christ and subsequently became the leaders of the church.

Elisabeth ElliotElisabeth Elliot’s impact went well beyond the Auca people of Ecuador. She became a prolific writer and her first two books, Shadow of the Almighty (biography of her husband) and Through Gates of Splendour (the story of the outreach to the Auca people that cost five lives) gripped the imagination of a generation in the 1960s – including us.

From 1988 to 2001 she had a daily radio programme which she almost always opened with the phrase, 'You are loved with an everlasting love,' – that's what the Bible says – 'and underneath are the everlasting arms.' This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot. She knew that through all that had happened to her in her lifetime she was surrounded by God’s love and strengthened by his power. This was what made her a hero, not her own actions.

In more than 40 years in mission work we’ve never been tested like the Elliots were tested. And, to be honest, we’re not sure how we would respond if we were. But we are thankful that through God’s love and strength they were willing to pay such a high price to become unwilling heroes of the faith in our lifetime. If ever there was a couple who exemplified St Paul’s command “follow me as I follow Christ”, it was Jim and Elisabeth Elliot.

Elisabeth’s passing leaves us with a question. Who is willing to trust God’s love and strength enough to pay the price to be mission heroes to the next generation? Are we up for it? Are you?

Read more like this:

How to lose supporters without even trying

The smile of a man who had lost (almost everything)

3 steps to a generous marriage


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