Birthday: October 8, 1927
Died At Age: 28
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: Philip James Elliot
Born in: Portland, Oregon
Famous as: Missionary
Spouse/Ex-: Elisabeth Elliot (m. 1953–1956)
mother: Clara Elliot
siblings: Herbert, Jane, Robert
children: Valerie Elliot Shepard (1955)
Died on: January 8, 1956
place of death: Curaray River, Ecuador
U.S. State: Oregon
education: Wheaton College, Benson Polytechnic High School
Who was Jim Elliot?
Philips James Elliot was a famous evangelical Christian Missionary, who sacrificed his life for the church along with four other missionaries in Ecuador. From his childhood, he was devoted to Christianity and wished to reach people in other countries and convert them to Christianity. He went to Ecuador to spread his religion among the native Indians. He spent more than six months learning Spanish and later learned Quichua, a scriptless local language of the Native Indians. After spending three years preaching and working among the Quichua people, he decided to reach out to the Huaorani Indians, who were more savage and violent than Quichua. He and his friends would have been successful, but were betrayed by an Indian who had befriended them. But, they did not die in vain, as their martyrdom inspired many youths to take up missionary works in foreign lands. His efforts to use the native language to communicate the word of Christ proved very effective. He also maintained a well-organized diary which recorded the trials and tribulations faced by him as a missionary. After his death, his dream was carried on by his wife. This missionary is still remembered for his selfless devotion to God and his zeal, tempered by love, to guide people.
Childhood & Early Life
Jim Elliot was born in Portland, Oregon to Fred, a traveling preacher, and Clara Elliot, a chiropractor. He had two elder brothers, Robert and Herbert, and a younger sister named Jane.
His parents were practicing Christians who raised their children to follow their beliefs, with emphasis on obedience, honesty and piety, and encouraged them to live for Christ, read the Bible and go to church regularly.
In 1941, he joined an architectural drawing course in Benson Polytechnic High School. There, he was a member of the football team, contributed to his school newspaper, and exhibited an outstanding talent for oratory.
In 1945, he joined Wheaton College, a private Christian college in Illinois. He considered subjects such as, philosophy, politics and anthropology, unnecessary for the one following God, and joined the wrestling team to condition his body.
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Jim Elliot started his career as a member in the ‘Student Foreign Missions Fellowship’ and discussed with an ‘InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’ group about the significance of Holy Spirit in missions.
In 1947, he and his friend, Ron Harris hitchhiked to Mexico and stayed with his friend’s parents who were missionaries there. He spent six weeks in Mexico and began to study Spanish.
He participated in the ‘International Student Missionary Convention’ at the Illinois University in 1948, where he realized the immense potential that lay in working among the tribal community of the South American jungles.
In 1950, he joined Camp Wycliffe to study linguistics. The ten weeks course taught him to break down native language into written symbols. Here he heard about the Auca Indians of Ecuador.
In 1951, he made arrangements to travel to Ecuador, trying to convince the authorities about the necessity of working among the South American tribes, and sought financial help for his trip.
In 1952, he reached Ecuador along with his friend, Pete Fleming for evangelizing the Quechua Indians. They stayed in Shandia mission station and made efforts to reach the remote and elusive Huaorani, indigenous people of Ecuador.
He worked in Shandia for more than three years but wanted to reach out to the Waodoni tribe that lived in deep jungles. He and his friend learned the language from a woman who left the tribe.
He and four other missionaries, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, and their pilot, Nate Saint, made contact with the Huaorani. They decided to build a base near the Indian village.
With the help of a native, Naenkiwi, they made a plan to visit the Indian village. But Naenkiwi misled the Indians about their intentions and turned them against the missionaries who eventually paid with their lives.
Realizing the importance of the local language of the Indians, Jim Elliot began translating the ‘New Testament’ into the language of the Quichua Indians, which was finished after his martyrdom by his wife.
‘The Journals of Jim Elliot’ are volumes of documents written over many years by the missionary in which he details his mission work. His journals were published in 1978 unabridged.
Personal Life & Legacy
Jim Elliot met Elizabeth Howard in Wheaton and was attracted to her, but they remained friends for a long time. They married in 1953 in Quito, Ecuador, and had a daughter, Valerie.
He was killed by the Huaorani warriors along with his four other companions on January 8, 1956, at the age of 28.
Elizabeth published two books, ‘Shadow of Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot’ and ‘Through Gates of Splendor’, which described the life and death of her husband.
In 2002, a musical, ‘Love Above All’, based on his life was staged at the Victoria Concert Hall, Singapore by Mount Carmel Bible-Presbyterian Church and five years later at the NUS University Cultural Centre.
This young missionary was actually carrying a gun but he did not use it because he would not kill a tribesman who did not know Christ, to save himself from being killed.
This famous missionary’s favorite quote was ‘He is no fool, who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose’, which was written in his journal published after his martyrdom.