Some women impact the world for just a brief moment, while others leave a lasting legacy, influencing generations to come.
Elisabeth Elliot shattered the myth of “feminism” by using her life to model what it means to truly live as a woman committed to serving God, whatever the cost.
And as I’ll explain below, one unspeakable tragedy changed the entire trajectory of her life, and it will surprise you how she responded.
Born of two missionary parents, Elliot was exposed to the missionary lifestyle early on and it was at a young age she learned the importance of impacting souls for Christ.
She went on to college and studied Classical Greek because she had the deep desire to translate the Bible into other languages and reach those who did not have God’s Word translated in their native language.
Elisabeth Elliot had a heart for those who hadn’t yet experienced the love of Christ, but knew just having that heart wasn’t enough, she had to put her heart into action and decided to enter the mission field to live out the Lord’s command to all Christians – to make disciples of all nations.
Upon graduation, Elisabeth went on to live as a missionary in Ecuador, where she served with a man named Jim Elliot, who she would eventually marry.
Elisabeth dreamed of living a life with her husband Jim as joint missionaries, reaching lost souls with the love of Christ.
Sadly, after only 3 short years of marriage and with a 10-month-old daughter, the unthinkable happened: The Auca tribe, to whom they were ministering to in Ecuador, murdered her husband.
And just like that, her entire life changed and in this moment, her faith was tested.
She knew God was good and had dedicated her life to serving Him, but now as a young widow with a young child, she had a difficult choice to make.
Elliot knew that the Christian life guaranteed suffering in this world and she knew ultimately she had to follow God regardless of the circumstances.
In an interview with Ligonier Ministries, when asked about the deep things she learned through suffering the loss of her husband, Elliot said:
“The profound and simple truth that God is God. When my husband Jim died, the Spirit of God brought to mind the words: “I am the Lord!” Things which sound like platitudes become vital, living and powerful when you have to learn them in the bottom of the barrel, in dark tunnels. The lesson: “I am the Lord” ought to be one that we learn without going through deep waters, but apparently there isn’t any other way.”
And in an amazing testament to the power of Christ within her, after learning her husband was killed, she did not flee in retreat or back down from her calling to reach the lost.
Instead of shrinking into the shadows or bolting in fear, she doubled down and was more determined than ever to tell the world about the love of Jesus.
Her mission was clear and she knew it.
She went on to spend another two years serving as a missionary to the very tribe that slaughtered her beloved husband because she believed to the depths of her soul that they needed Christ more than ever before.
Elisabeth Elliot stood as a bold light for Christ and demonstrated to the world how a simple act of obedience could create a ripple effect.
Even off the mission field, she went on to author more than twenty books hoping to use the wisdom God had shown her to impact women for Christ.
She had a heart for women and often wrote about purity and passion, reminding women everywhere to have Jesus at the center of their lives.
Elisabeth Elliot shattered the myth of modern “feminism” by proving a woman can be both bold and courageous for the Lord and operate with dignity and grace.
She encouraged women to “be a woman” and not be pressured into proving their worth based on a modern feminist point of view.
In her book, titled Let Me Be A Woman Elliot said:
“It is a naive sort of feminism that insists that women prove their ability to do all the things that men do. This is a distortion and a travesty. Men have never sought to prove that they can do all the things women do. Why subject women to purely masculine criteria? Women can and ought to be judged by the criteria of femininity, for it is in their femininity that they participate in the human race. And femininity has its limitations. So has masculinity. That is what we’ve been talking about. To do this is not to do that. To be this is not to be that. To be a woman is not to be a man.”
While secular activists do everything possible to try to eradicate gender, Elliot serves as a beacon of light, pointing women back to God’s Word which clearly outlines the separate, yet unique role of both man and woman.
Not one to mince words, Elisabeth Elliot led a bold life for Christ, without apology.
Even though she experienced tragedy and underwent the gut-wrenching pain of grief, she pressed on. Instead of allowing the enemy to use her pain and vulnerability to take her out, she clung to her faith and went on to share the love of Christ until her dying day and inspired generations of Christians to also submit to the Word of God.
Elisabeth Elliot is a shining example of a woman who simply loved and obeyed the Lord and allowed Him to use her to do His will, whatever the cost.
Were you surprised to learn Elisabeth Elliot continued to serve the very tribe who murdered her husband? What word or phrase do you think sums up her legacy?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.