May 1, 2019 @ 8:00 AM

Elisabeth Howard and Jim Elliot were married on October 8, 1953 in Quito, Ecuador. They were missionaries to the Quichua Indian people. Their daughter Valerie was born in 1955. In October of 1955 Jim and Elisabeth along with four other missionary couples,  Nate and Marj Saint, Roger and Barbara Youderian, Ed and Marilou McCully, and Pete and Olive Fleming began an outreach ministry, “Operation Auca,” to the remote and primitive tribes of Auca Indians. Although missionary efforts had made inroads with several people groups in Ecuador, the Aucas remained a group of  tribes that had consistently repelled advances made by the white man. The Aucas were savage and dangerous. Yet, these missionaries were called and committed to bringing the message of God’s love, forgiveness, and salvation through Christ to them.

Prior to commencing Operation Auca, the five missionaries had spent much time learning about the Aucas’ language and culture. They had lowered gifts from Nate Saint’s Piper Cruiser plane, and the natives seemed receptive and friendly. The Aucas had left some gifts for the white men as well. Then on Tuesday, January 3,1956 after months of preparation, the missionary men landed on a Curaray River sandbar that they named “Palm Beach.” They brought in supplies and built a shelter thirty feet up an ironwood tree. They had made a bold, faith decision to set up camp in the midst of Auca territory.1

Journal entries and photographs as well as radio communication with the missionaries’ home base provide a record of the events of that week. Several days were spent waiting for the Aucas to approach their camp. Camping in an open area, they believed that they were surrounded and being watched by the natives who camouflaged themselves in the jungle terrain. On Friday three Aucas, one man and two women stepped out of the surrounding brush One woman was approximately 30 years of age and the other looked about 16 years of age. The interaction was friendly. The missionaries named the man “George”. He was interested in the plane so they took him for a ride over the beach area.2

Aucas visited again on Sunday January 8th. About 12:30 pm Nate Saint communicated by radio to the families back at home base that the Aucas were coming and that he would report back at 4:30 pm, but that call never came. Radio transmissions ceased and communication with the home base went silent. Instead of another friendly encounter, the Aucas came with spears. The bodies of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, and Pete Fleming were discovered in the river six days later.3

Elisabeth Elliot and her young daughter Valerie, along with Rachel Saint (sister of Nate Saint), returned to live with the Aucas in 1958. Since that time 80 percent of the Aucas (who are now called Huaorani) have heard the Gospel message and 40 percent have become Christians, including many of those who speared the five missionaries.4

Elisabeth returned to the United States with her daughter in 1963. She wrote 24 books and became a well known speaker. She married Addison Leitch in 1969 who died of cancer in 1973. She married Lars Gren in 1977. Elisabeth died June 15, 2015 at the age of 88 years. Her most popular books were Through Gates of Splendor and Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under God’s Control.5

 “The love life of a Christian is a crucial battleground. There, if nowhere else, it will be determined as to who is Lord: the world, the self and the devil, or the Lord Christ.”-- Elizabeth Elliot

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”-- Jim Elliot

Remembering God’s faithful ones,


1Through Gates of Splendor, 50th Anniversary Edition, by Elisabeth Elliot, 1996, p.104.
2.”Operation Auca: Martyrs of the Ecuador Mission, Baptist Message”, by Rex Butler, April 1, 2015,
5“Elisabeth Elliot Biography,” by Caroline Vandenbree, March 7, 2017,
6 Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control, by Elisabeth Elliot, 1984, 2002, p. 14.