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A Profound Legacy: Remembering Elisabeth Elliot


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Famed Christian author, speaker and missionary Elisabeth Elliot passed away Sunday morning. She was 88 years old.

Elliot's husband, Lars Gren, said his late wife had been battling dementia. He added that she handled her mental decline with the same aplomb as the deaths of her first two spouses.

"She accepted those things, [knowing]  they were no surprise to God," Gren said. "It was something she would rather not have experienced, but she received it."

Elliot authored numerous books but perhaps her most famous were those she penned about the martyrdom of her first husband, Jim Elliot. He was killed in 1956 by Waorani tribal members while he and four other missionaries attempted to reach them with the Gospel. At the time, the Waorani (also called the Aucas) was one of eastern Ecuador's unreached tribes.

"Our daughter Valerie was 10 months old when Jim was killed," she said. "Since then, my life has been one of writing and speaking."

For almost 13 years, Elisabeth Elliot recorded a 15-minute radio program, "Gateway to Joy," aimed at women. Her former producer, Jan Wismer, spoke with CBN News about her life and influence. Watch below.

Steve Saint, son of the famous missionary pilot Nate Saint who was one of the five killed, shared similar sentiments regarding the woman he knew as "Aunt Betty."

"To the rest of us mortals she was an incredibly talented and gifted woman who trusted God in life's greatest calamities, even the loss of her mind to dementia, and who allowed God to use her. He did use her," Saint wrote on his Facebook page.

"I'm very sure she would not want to be remembered as a great writer, as a great speaker. She would want to be remembered as a girl, a woman who trusted God to use her and he did, powerfully," he told CBN News.

***Read more of Steve Saint's tribute to Elisabeth Elliot here.

Saint reflected on his memories of his "Aunt Betty" with CBN's Stan Jeter by phone. Click play to listen.

In 1969, Elliot married Gordon-Conwell Seminary professor Addison Leitch. He passed away four years later from cancer.

"After his death I had two lodgers in my home," she wrote. "One of them married my daughter; the other one, Lars Gren, married me."

Elliot, a Wheaton College graduate and the daughter of missionaries, later went on to launch the radio program called, "Gateway to Joy."

"Elisabeth Elliot never set out to be a radio personality. She set out to do the will of God -- something we don't hear much about these days," her cohost, Jan Wismer, wrote in a 2013 tribute.

"Elisabeth believed in asking this foundational question: Is this God's will for me, right now, in this place? … Unapologetically, Elisabeth espoused such truths as: give to get, lose to find, and die to live," Wismer continued.

"Setting her sights "on things above" ( ), Elisabeth ministered among three indigenous groups in Ecuador before helping listeners and readers find joy in the ordinary affairs of life--like cooking meals and cleaning toilets--on her globally syndicated radio program," she said.

"She called it living sacramentally, and her rock-solid principles shaped my life," she concluded.

According to Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of famed evangelist Billy Graham, Elliot "set a high standard for women in ministry."

"She was intelligent, practical, truthful, and Biblical as she challenged women to be authentic followers of Jesus Christ," Lotz told CBN News.

"She leaves a profound legacy to those who would 'take up their cross and follow Jesus," she said. "I rejoice knowing she has entered now through the gates of splendor into her Savior's presence!

Elliot leaves behind her husband, daughter Valerie Elliot Shepard, son in-law Walt, and eight grandchildren.

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