This is a hardback authorised biography of Elisabeth Elliot, who liked to be called Betty. The author has had tremendous access to her journals and personal papers and interviewed many people who knew Betty, including some of the tribal people with whom she lived in the jungle in Ecuador. This is no hagiography and for that I was grateful. It is a page-turner, I just couldn’t put it down. You get to know Betty through her life as a single woman, then a wife, a mother and a widow. You read of her spiritual struggles and her devotedness to the Scriptures. The book de-glamourises the period after the death of her husband, Jim Elliot, and the four men who were with him. You can almost feel the mud and smell the flies as the descriptions of life in the Waodani village jump off the pages. Betty’s troubled personal and professional relationship with Rachel Saint is laid bare. This serves as a reminder: when we pray for our missionaries we should bring before the Lord their relationships with their colleagues.
There will be a second volume which will focus on her life after leaving the jungle, which I can’t wait to read.
The thing that struck me the most was that Elisabeth Elliot is a heroine of the faith, but she is not a role model. She, like many other pioneer missionaries, were ‘one-offs’. They were people called by God for such a time and equipped with the personalities and gifts for that time and that task. We cannot emulate them, however, we must, as Betty often said, know our Scriptures and pursue obedience to God in whatever situation he calls us to follow him.