Slain missionary's daughter inspires new generation
Published 28 August 2012
It has been 56 years since Valerie Elliot Shepard's father died trying to share the gospel with a tribe of Ecuadorian Indians.
Jim Elliot was killed by the Auca Indians alongside four of his Wheaton College classmates but the brutality of the tribe did not stop Jim's daughter and wife from living with the very people who had killed him.
The tribe came to accept Jesus, and a new understanding of the love of God caused them to abandon their violent ways.
Now Valerie wants to share the experience of her unique jungle childhood amidst the Waodani people.
Her story is told through the curious eyes of a child in her new children's book, Pilipinto's Happiness: The Jungle Childhood of Valerie Elliot.
The book is out on 8 October, the 85th anniversary of Jim Elliot's birth.
The story begins two years before her father's murder and depicts in colourful detail how the Indians, their language, and even the dangerous jungle elements created a delightful playground for learning to trust God's hand and to respect the simplest of His gift.
She describes the jungle surroundings where she walked, climbed, and fluttered around for five years as "Pilipinto", which means "butterfly" - the Indians' nickname for her.
"The gift to me, and what mother and God taught me, was the principle of being perfectly content," she shares.
"God puts us in all kinds of situations as we are growing up. My situation was unusual, amazing, and simple.
"There is an awful discontentment among young people.
"I do look at the youth culture and just feel only the Lord can bring about a heart contented with simple pleasures and gifts from the Lord."
In addition to being content, Shephard hopes young people will take away the book's lessons about simple living, faithfulness in adversity, and true heroism.
"Because my parents prayed and hoped to bring Indians to the Lord, when my father was killed my mother had no plan or immediate thought she should leave Ecuador," Shepard remarked.
"Human fears would flood her mind, but verses from Scripture gave her peace and assurance we would be taken care of.
"Mother continued to work with the Indians and continued to pray for them. And the more that she prayed for them, the greater her love grew for these people in need of a Saviour."
More news from the world (section)