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To Be Mission-Minded: The Life of Jim Elliot

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Truly, I am in awe of the life of Jim Elliot. Although short-lived, he accomplished a lot for the kingdom and today we acknowledge him as one of the great missionaries. He was wholeheartedly focused on the mission to bring the Gospel to all the nations, putting aside his own desires and completely denying himself. We should all aspire to live more eternally focused lives. Here is more on the life of Jim.

From Childhood to the Mission Field

  • Born Philip James (Jim) Elliot on 8 October 1927.
  • The Elliots were a Christian family where the parents encouraged the children to know Jesus. There were 4 children, Jim was the second oldest.
  • At the age of 6, Jim professed his faith in Jesus saying to his family that he was ready for Jesus to return as he knew Him. And Jim lived his life with this confidence, for Jesus.

When the time comes to die, make sure all you have to do is die!

Photograph of Jim Elliot | Inspirational Christians.org
  • In 1953, Elliot married Elisabeth Howard, a devoted follower of Christ whom he met whilst in his final year of college. Together they had a daughter, Valerie.
  • He was an American Missionary martyed with four other missionaries on a trip to Ecuador in 1956.
  • Jim was only 28 when he died sharing the gospel with the unreached Huaorani people in Ecuador.

Mission Minded

Jim was interested in missions from a young age, asking questions to the visiting missionaries and enquiring about their trips. It was at college (university) where his passions for missions sprung into action. From then his life was one of complete commitment to the mission of bringing the Gospel to all people.

He was very passionate about speaking to people about Christ. On weekends, Jim would travel from his college in Massachusetts to Chicago to train stations trying to speak to people about Jesus. As well as his desire to evangelise, Jim was devoted to studying the scriptures. During his college years, he regularly attended Bible study. In his journal he wrote:

None of it gets to be ‘old stuff’ for it is Christ in print, the Living Word. We wouldn’t think of rising in the morning without a face-wash, but we often neglect the purgative cleansing of the Word of the Lord. It wakes us up to our responsibility.

Jim Elliot (right) with Ed McCully and Roger Youderian who also died in 1956 | Source: Christianity Today

After College, Jim was determined to enter the mission field, he believed this was where God was calling him. He wanted to bring the gospel to the unreached corners. So for years, he and his mission partner Pete Fleming, whom he met at a Christian conference, studied Spanish and the culture of the people they desired to reach. They became fluent in the language, which allowed them to converse with the natives in Ecuador, the Quichuas, and spread the word. Three years into their work, many of the natives had become faithful Christians.

An Eternal Mission

One day, Jim heard about an unreached people in the jungle of Ecuador called the Aucas. They were known to the natives to be extremely violent as many of the Quichuas had been killed by them. Nonetheless, the call Jim felt for the mission was greater than his fear of death. Even the stories of the Aucas murdering foreign visitors did not deter him from an opportunity to share the Gospel, in fact, it solidified his resolve. Thus in January 1956, Elliot, Fleming and three other missionaries would set out for the jungle to preach to these people about Jesus. However, they would never make it home. They were killed by the people they were trying to reach.

Which one of us would risk the possibility of death to preach the word? How many of us would have given up when the call seemed too difficult? Truthfully, many would not choose to leave the comforts of their home to travel to a foreign land in their youthful prime. But Jim did and this is what draws us to look at his life. The question most people would ask is why? Here is one of Jim Elliot’s famous quotes:

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

Similar to Scripture in Mark 8:36 where Jesus says “what will it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul“, this is what God calls for us too. Although Jim and the four other missionaries never made it “home”, they are now home. With Jesus for all of eternity.

Man carrying bible and bag on a journey

Our Mission Field

Honestly, most times we do not have to give up our desires to this extent to preach the Gospel. But we do have to deny ourselves. We have to choose to walk in the call upon our lives when we committed our lives to Christ.

To clarify, the mission field does not necessarily have to be in another country or remote jungle, Elliot even preached in train stations! The mission field can be wherever we find people who need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It could be where we are right now. Undeniably, we are all called to know Jesus and to preach Jesus.

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

Matthew 9:37-38

Saying all of this, if you are interested in going on a mission trip, OGGM annually takes a group of young people on a missionary trip to Tenerife. To find out more, send an email to hello@ourgodgivenmission.com. Additionally, you can read about the most recent trip here.

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Oluwaseyi Sobogun
A lover of Jesus and spoken word, Oluwaseyi is passionate about people finding their purpose in Christ. She is currently in her final year of an apprenticeship in Architecture. When Seyi is not studying or working, she likes to read a good book with a cup of Chai.