New York Times bestselling author and speaker Ellen Vaughn has written a new biography on missionary Elisabeth Elliott. Becoming Elisabeth Elliot focuses on the early life of Elisabeth Elliot and what made her become the young missionary in Ecuador where members of a violent Amazonian tribe savagely speared her husband Jim and his four colleagues. How did she become such a person of faith?
Becoming Elisabeth Elliot tells the tale of how God shaped an idealistic, rule-following young woman who was quite performance-driven into a person who pursued Christ. Ellen Vaughn explains why she first embarked on writing on Elisabeth Elliot, "I'm a curious person. I always want to know other people's stories. I knew about Elisabeth Elliot, but I didn't know her. I wanted to explore the woman beyond the platform speaker and missionary icon. I wrote it for those who chafe at religion as usual and for people who are hungry for dramatic stories of authentic, relatable, gutsy heroes who do what God is calling them to do, no matter what. She's not who you thought she was."
Though there are many biographies on Elisabeth's husband, Jim, there is a dearth of resources on Elisabeth. "As I understand it, while there are lots of Jim Elliot bios, there is as yet no other biography of Elisabeth Elliot, except one that was written for juvenile readers," Vaughn writes. "What makes this book unique from any other treatments before or after is the fact that this is the authorized biography designated by Elisabeth's family and closest friends. I was uniquely entrusted with Elisabeth's private journals, which contain provocative, poignant and surprising material."
Vaughn used Elisabeth's private, unpublished journals, and candid interviews with her family and friends, to paint the adventures and misadventures God used to shape one of the most influential women in modern church history. For her research, Vaughn even travelled to the great eastern jungle of Ecuador's Amazon rainforest where Elisabeth once served. "I was able to live among a Waodani clan for a few days. Wonderful Waodani hosts welcomed us, took us on a trek through the jungle for several hours, then onto long, slender canoes, and then we arrived at the Waodani settlement. Grass huts, hammocks for sleeping, the most beautiful outhouse in the Amazon, no electricity, no connectivity, no devices: it was wonderful. Hunters would go out each day. One day they came back with a wild boar. The next day they got a Rodent of Unusual Size. The next day it was a big, furry, odiferous monkey. I became a vegetarian for the week."
Vaughn hopes the book will be an encouragement to readers. "I want the reader to have a great time. I want the reader to know he or she is not alone. I want the reader to laugh and weep and give this book to friends; there is something inherently helpful about identifying with the story of another human being on life's strange and often rocky journey, seeking God right in the midst of the mess. A good book is a strengthening reminder, particularly in times of social distancing, that we're not isolated from each other, and we are never isolated from God."
Vaughn is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who has written or co-written 23 books. Former vice president of executive communications at Prison Fellowship, she collaborated with the late Chuck Colson on a number of his seminal works. She speaks at conferences, often travels to interview Christ-followers in hostile parts of the world, and serves on the board of directors for ICM, the global church developer.
You can purchase the book here.