cover image Becoming Elisabeth Elliot

Becoming Elisabeth Elliot

Ellen Vaughn. B&H, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5359-1093-4

In this striking biography, Vaughn (Time Peace) sets out to discover the heart and soul of missionary and author Elisabeth Elliot (1926–2015). In the 1950s, Elliot served as a missionary to the Waodani tribe of Ecuador after her husband, Jim Elliot, and four others were killed by the tribe while trying to make contact. Vaughn recounts that story, bringing to light the deep desires, anguish, and imperfect life of Elliot, including her tense relationship with Rachel Saint, sister to another one of the missionaries who had died, who isolated herself from other missionaries among the Waodani. A deep thinker and lover of poetry who wanted nothing more than to do God’s will, Elliot eventually found her calling in ministry to Christians rather than to those outside the faith. The biography’s second half largely deals with challenges of navigating a life of biblical faith at odds with cultural Christianity: Elliot “chafed at the disparity between what she saw in the gospel and what she saw in the organized church,” Vaughn writes. “She was quick to pick up the scent of hypocrisy and legalism, but she always applied such analysis to herself first.” Even those well-acquainted with Elliot’s works will find fresh perspective and revealing insights here. (Sept.)