But everything that happens, we are told, fits into a pattern for good to those who love God. We see events as “God’s bright messengers.” He is always at work, calmly engineering His eternal purposes in us, through us, and in spite of us.
-Elisabeth Elliot Through Gates of Splendor
About the book…
This is the story of the five missionaries who were speared to death by those they hoped to reach with the Gospel. It is one many people know, or at least have heard of. This book, Through Gates of Splendor, is the story of how the paths Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, and Pete Flemming crossed, the thrill of planning their greatest adventure, the joy the found in Jesus Christ, and the way God worked His perfect plan through their lives, and deaths. What makes this book more than a mere biography, is it’s author. Elisabeth Elliot was there for the events she recounts, the wife of one of the five missionaries. Her humble, honest, and thorough story of God working His plan in our greatest moments and weakest ones, is both convicting, encouraging, and very inspiring.
About the author…
Elisabeth Elliot was born in Belgium to missionary parents. They moved back to the states when she was young, but throughout her childhood and teen years they hosted many missionaries in their home. It was no surprise when Elisabeth herself, became a missionary. She married Jim Elliot in 1953, and their daughter, Valerie was born in Ecuador where they served together. Jim was killed in 1956, and Elisabeth, or Betty as she was called more often than not, continued to serve in Ecuador. After her return to the states, she married Addison Leitch in 1969. He died of cancer in 1973. She later married Lars Gren and they were married until her death in 2015. Elisabeth was an author, a speaker, and a role model for girls and women seeking to follow Christ all over the world. May we all learn from her humility, faithfulness, and bravery, but even more so, may we learn to love the God she served whole-heartedly.
Some personal thoughts…
This book brings me to tears every time I read it. I cannot recommend it enough. It’s not a story of heroes. It’s not a story of great victory or success. It is merely a story of five men and five women, who followed Christ, caring not what the cost would be.
They did not seek fame or fortune. They did not desire to be super-Christians. They had one goal: lay their lives down for the One who gave them new life. The result of that desire was not what any of them necessarily hoped or dreamed for, but it was perfect.
Jim Elliot once said, “nothing is worth living for, unless it is worth dying for.”
Jesus is worth living for, and He is worth dying for.
I had to pause for a moment after typing that, and let it really sink in. That truth changes people. Changes lives. It changed the lives of Jim, Nate, Roger, Ed, and Pete. They knew, and believed, that this world was not their home, but that while they were here, they didn’t want to waste a moment in sharing the good news that changed them with people everywhere. They believed Christ was worth living for, and then showed the world that they believed He was worth dying for. May we all know and believe as they did.
This was one of the first Christian biographies I ever read, and thus I thought it would be appropriate to use it as the first non-fiction review on the blog. If you haven’t read this powerful story of God’s faithfulness, I truly hope this review, or something else, would convince you to.
Things worth mentioning…
This is a story that ends with martyrdom. The five missionaries are speared to death while trying to reach a violent Indian tribe in the jungle. Personally, I find true stories like this inspiring, but I do know of people who have a hard time reading about real events that end with horrendous death. I would encourage you to be forewarned, this is a true story of what it cost some men to follow Christ, but please, read it, even if it may be challenging. Because the Story that is bigger than this one, is that Christ came to save us from eternal death. If we are His, not even being speared to death by those who hate Him, can pluck us from His hand. We know not what our tomorrow holds, but we know Who holds our tomorrow. Find hope and peace in that, as these men did.
Here at The Corner Shelf, you’ll find Through Gates of Splendor on The Top Shelf.