“Elisabeth Elliot (nee Howard) has been described as one of the most influential Christian women of the 20th century.
Elisabeth Elliot was born in Belgium on December 21, 1926, where her parents served as missionaries. The family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when Elisabeth was an infant. Elisabeth would go on to attend Wheaton College where she studied classical Greek to enable her to translate the Bible into different languages for future missionary work.
While at Wheaton, the then Ms. Howard met her future first husband, Jim Elliot. After graduation, and for five years before their engagement and marriage, Jim and Elisabeth served in different parts of Ecuador. In 1953, Jim Elliot and Elisabeth Howard were married in Quito, Ecuador. In 1956 Jim Elliot, along with 4 other missionaries, were killed while making contact with the Auca Indians.
After the death of her husband, Elisabeth and her 10-month-old daughter continued to live among and minister to the Quichua tribe in Ecuador. During that time she met two Auca women who lived with her and taught her the tribe’s language. She then went as a missionary to serve the tribe that killed her husband. While living with the Aucas, the people gave Elisabeth the tribal name Gikari, meaning “Woodpecker.”
Elisabeth Elliot wrote Through Gates of Splendor (the story of the five men, including her husband, who were killed by the Auca), Shadow of the Almighty (a memoir about the life and work of her husband Jim), and The Savage, My Kinsmen (about her life among the Aucas). In 1963 she moved back to the US where she began a career as a writer and speaker. She would go on to write 24 books.
In 1969, Elisabeth married Addison Leitch, professor of theology at Gordon Conwell Seminary in Massachusetts; however, he died in 1973. After Leitch’s death, Elisabeth married Lars Gren. Elisabeth Elliot passed away at the age of 88 on June 15, 2015 after a 10 year battle with dementia.
“I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.”
– Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates of Splendor”