Elisabeth Elliot, inspiring missionary, dies at age 88

Photo: Elisabeth Elliot Org

Originally posted in The Christian Institute

The Christian missionary, author and speaker Elisabeth Elliot has died aged 88 after suffering from dementia. Elisabeth was born to missionary parents in Belgium, and moved with her family to the US at a few months old. She attended Wheaton College, and then went as a missionary to Ecuador where she married Jim Elliot.

Share the gospel

In 1956, when their daughter Valerie was ten months old, Jim and four others were killed by members of a previously unreached tribe. Elisabeth and Valerie later spent two years living with the same tribe who had killed Jim, in order to share the gospel there.

While in Ecuador, she wrote the best-selling book Through Gates of Splendour, which tells the story of Jim Elliot and their work together.

‘Everlasting love’

After returning to the US, she continued writing on topics including suffering, singleness, purity and womanhood. Elisabeth spoke at conferences worldwide and hosted a radio program called Gateway to Joy from 1988 to 2001, opening each episode by saying, “You are loved with an everlasting love”.

In 1969 she married a theology professor Addison Leitch, who died four years later from cancer.

‘No surprise to God’

She later wrote: “God never withholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good”. 

“While it is perfectly true that some of my worst fears did, in fact, materialize, I see them now as ‘an abyss and mass of mercies’, appointed and assigned by a loving and merciful Father who sees the end from the beginning. He asks us to trust him.”

In 1977 she married Lars Gren, who said in an interview last year that Elisabeth accepted her dementia just as she did the deaths of her husbands, knowing it was “no surprise to God”.

Elisabeth is survived by Lars, as well as her daughter Valerie and eight grandchildren.

One Comment

  1. What a godly and influential lady! News of the mass-martyrdoms of the missionaries (including her husband Jim) splashed world-wide press headlines in ?1956. Elizabeth’s book “Through Gates of Splendour” was one of the most moving and motivational missionary books in the 50s and 60s. I know of others called into missionary service through that book. A 35mm slide-reel-tape presentation in which the voices of the murdered missionaries were heard alongside sequential pictures telling the story of how the Auca tribes-people of Ecuador welcomed then killed the missionaries on that river-beach would have audiences silent with awe. Many prayed for those tribes-people, and later another mission-effort reached them and brought many to Christ. Read a more recent sequel “The End of the Spear” by Steve Saint (Tyndale 2005) for the story as told by the son of the murdered missionary pilot Nate Saint. You’ll learn and laugh and cry at the same time. Many lessons re sustainable missions. At the Lausanne II World Evangelism Conference 1989 I was inspired to meet the son of one of their murderers, now a zealous Auca evangelist himself. There is now a healthy church among those Auca tribes. Elizabeth will have received a rousing welcome as she entered her heavenly home, embraced by Jesus and re-united with Jim! God’s grace and power are tangible in this story!!!