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Elisabeth Elliot: Joyful Surrender (Christian Heroes: Then and Now) is a biography in the series Christian Heroes: Then and Now. The series is written especially for young people. Janet and Geoff Benge authored this biography on Elliot. It was published by YWAM (2010). I’m making a particular point of this because there is an autobiography by Elliot with the similar title, Joyful Surrender. It was written for adults and not for children.

The Benges’ biography of Elisabeth Elliot is an important read for young people. It shows how following God may not take us in a straight line; doubts and setbacks are inevitable. Yet God still loves us and helps us walk through shadows and difficulties and on to see the fulfillment of his plans for us. Elisabeth Elliot is a close up and personal look at a life-long journey of faith.

The writing level of this biography is suitable for middle school and high school students. That said, it is important for adults to caution would-be readers of the facts before giving them the book.

From the news, previous generations knew the story of Jim Elliot’s martyrdom, but today people have not heard that Elisabeth’s husband was speared to death while attempting to bring the gospel to an unreached Ecuadorian tribe. The book also contains descriptions of the death of a woman in childbirth, the murder of a language informant, and the painful illness of Betty’s second husband. These descriptions may upset and frighten some younger readers and not be suitable until they are older, and mentally prepared to process it.

This biography differs from Elisabeth’s famous book Through Gates of Splendor. Instead of telling us about Jim, it outlines Betty’s faith journey. We learn about her family life and how meeting many missionaries in her home influenced her choice of career.

It was her plan to become a translator for people who did not have the Bible in their own language and so she studied linguistics in college. She met Jim Elliot and felt drawn to him, but both were planning to remain single and they were interested in different countries.

Betty taught for a while after completing her training. Then God brought people and events into her life that led her to accept a missionary assignment in Ecuador, where Jim was serving, but at a different location. Betty worked hard and faced many heartbreaking setbacks. Sometime later, Jim and Betty married and began serving together.

After Jim was killed, Betty sought out the same tribe whom he had tried to reach. Slowly, members of the tribe began to open their hearts to Jesus. She wrote many stories about the work Jim, herself, and others were doing in Ecuador, giving readers a window into the adventure and challenges of such a calling.

Betty’s writing and speaking brought her back to the United States, where she inspired many people to serve as missionaries and to support missions. During this time her own life had many ups and downs, but her spirit remained strong and surrendered to God.

Elisabeth Elliot: Joyful Surrender (Christian Heroes: Then and Now) is available at Christian bookstores, on Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. In paperback, it is approximately 230 pages long.

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.  

 

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