- - Saturday, June 27, 2015

At its best, 20th century evangelicalism was a sending movement, centered on the missionary and evangelistic thrust to take the Christian Gospel, the “good news,” to people who did not have access to it.

Billy and Ruth Graham, known and respected throughout the world, embodied that emphasis. But another couple, though lesser known, came of age at nearly the same time and also graduated from Wheaton College.

Jim and Elisabeth Elliot served together as missionaries in Ecuador until his murder at the hands of the natives they were attempting to reach. Mr. Elliot, along with four other men serving alongside him, were killed by a group of Huaorani warriors in 1956. These natives were called “Auca” by other Ecuadorians, a word that means “savage.”

After the death of her husband, Mrs. Elliot returned to Ecuador to continue the outreach toward the Huaorani. She and daughter Valerie, who had been born the year before Mr. Elliot’s death, lived among them, forgave them for what they had done and led many of them to believe in Jesus Christ.

Mrs. Elliot died Monday at the age of 88.

As an author, Mrs. Elliot drew from her vast knowledge of Scripture, along with her personal experiences on the mission field, and in love and marriage. Her writings, combined with her popularity as a speaker to younger generations, made her one of the most important evangelicals of the century — though she would have been the first to eschew such accolades.

Many evangelicals can remember their first encounter with the missionary story of the Elliots, and find inspiration in Mr. Elliot’s famous quote he lived and died by: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Listen also “The Briefing“ podcast by Albert Mohler, who found a parallel in The New York Times‘ obituary of Mrs. Elliot in relationship to the “we forgive you” statements from the relatives of the slain church members in Charleston, South Carolina, toward Dylann Roof, who’s been charged with murder.

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