Many are familiar with the story of Christian missionary Jim Elliot from the popular book, “Through the Gates of Splendor” or its 2005 film adaptation, “End of the Spear,” which chronicled the evangelist’s final and fatal mission to reach a remote Ecuadorian tribe for Christ.
After Elliot was martyred alongside four other missionaries, his wife, Christian author and speaker Elisabeth Elliot, kept Jim’s legacy and mission alive by writing many popular books, including “Through the Gates of Splendor,” and by sharing her testimony of faith with thousands.
While the couple’s inspiring faith is well known, perhaps equally astonishing is the story of how the two came together, which until recently was largely unknown.
Earlier this week, The Gospel Coalition posted an up-close and personal video featuring Valerie Elliot Shepard, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot’s only daughter, whose discovery of her parents’ private journals and letters has offered powerful insight into their love for Christ and for each other. Shepard referred to the collection, which documents four years of her parents’ courtship, as “unbelievable treasures.”
What many don’t know is that marriage was never a part of the Elliots’ original plan for their lives. The devout youths each felt a strong prompting to devote their lives entirely to God. But as is often the case, God had other plans, and the two soon found that they could be even more effective for the Kingdom as a pair.
In the video, Shepard shares never-before-seen writings from her parents that detail their complicated, arduous and incredibly beautiful journey to love.
Their paths to God’s purpose led them together.Many know the heroic story of Jim Elliot’s violent death in 1956, killed along with four other missionaries by a primitive Ecuadorian tribe they were seeking to reach. Many also know the prolific legacy of Elisabeth Elliot, whose inspiring influence on generations of believers through print, broadcast, and personal testimony continues to resonate, even after her own death in 2015.What many don’t know is the remarkable story of how these two stalwart personalities—single-mindedly devoted to pursuing God’s will for their young lives, certain their future callings would require them to sacrifice forever the blessings of marriage—found their hearts intertwined. Their paths to God’s purpose led them together.Now, for the first time, their only child—daughter Valerie Elliot Shepard—unseals never-before-published letters and private journals that capture in first-person intimacy the attraction, struggle, drama, and devotion that became a most unlikely love story.Riveting for old and young alike, this moving account of their personal lives shines as a gold mine of lived-out truth, hard-fought purity, and an insider’s view on two beloved Christian figures.
Posted by The Gospel Coalition on Monday, February 18, 2019
“My father and mother’s love was huge and deep because they were so committed to loving God first, that they felt that each of the other was a gift,” Shepard said, adding, “I hope to carry on the legacy simply by telling the story.”
Now, for the first time, the public can access the intimate writings of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. On Feb. 1, Shepard published her latest book, “Devotedly: The Personal Letters and Love Story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot.” Get your copy here.