“Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose” Review

Our family recently received a wonderful e-book and unit study from YWAM Publishing (Youth With A Mission) to review for TOS Crew. Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose and its accompanying Jim Elliot Unit Study Curriculum Guide are part of YWAM Publishing’s Christian Heroes: Then and Now series of books and unit studies. This is an excellent series of books that includes historical figures of the past and present; the books are wonderful for either family read-alouds, readers for children ages 10 and up or homeschool unit study.


Have you heard the story of Jim Elliot, or read his wife Elisabeth Elliot’s writings?  Other than hearing a few missionary stories at camp in elementary school (like Hudson Taylor’s), I knew little about the lives and adventures of Christian missionaries.  When I was in my early twenties and began reading more biographies, I ran across Elisabeth Elliot’s book of Jim Elliot’s life, Shadow of the  Almighty:  The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot.  I was, as I know many of you must have been as well, deeply moved and inspired to read of his life–completely devoted, above all else, to God, and to bringing the gospel to tribes in Ecuador.

His story is beautifully presented for younger readers in Jim Elliot:  One Great Purpose.  This chapter book opens with Jim and his fellow missionaries preparing to meet in person, for the first time, the Auca Indians.  From there, it flashes back to Jim’s earlier life, college and his calling to go on the mission field.  It recounts his travels to Ecuador, his language study, and his deepening friendship with Elisabeth Howard, a missionary to Ecuador herself.  His early work with the Quichua Indians alongside fellow missionaries is shared, along with his marriage to Elisabeth and the struggles and successes of their jungle life…including the joy of baptizing their first converts to the Christian faith.  The Elliots and the other families serving the Quichua had children, held Bible conferences, built medical clinics and served faithfully among the Quichua.  One conversation topic was repeatedly mentioned by their Quichua friends:  the nearby Auca Indians, and the violent attacks they made upon the Quichuas and others unfortunate enough to encounter them.

Eventually, as those familiar with Jim Elliot’s story know, the missionaries saw the Auca Indians, and they moved closer to the Auca settlements they’d discovered.  Elliot began to wonder if indeed his calling, his one great purpose, was to reach the Auca Indians with the gospel.  Would God make this possible?

In  in the event that you don’t know the end of the story, I’m not going to tell you the rest.  Jim Elliot, and his friends, were able to make contact with the Auca Indians, or the Waorani, as they call themselves.  Members of the Auca/Waorani tribe did indeed hear the gospel.  Betty Elliot, and the wives of the other missionaries, remained among the Auca/Waorani; some for two years and one, Rachel Saint, served there until the end of her life in 1994.

Jim Elliot:  One Great Purpose is a wonderful book to read on its own.  But if you’d like to use it as a unit study, YWAM Publishing has written an excellent one.  It includes a great variety of interesting activities, including:

  • Bible memory verses
  • Display corner ideas, for Ecuadorean maps, food, crafts, stamps or coins
  • Chapter questions with additional vocabulary
  • Ideas for additional student explorations, such as creative writing, hands-on projects, language examples and crafts, and essay questions that promote deeper thinking about Jim Elliot’s life and choices, and the different adventures he experienced
  • Preparing regional food

We haven’t completed all the activities in the unit study.  We have been learning the memory verses; mapping Jim Elliot’s travels; spending time answering questions for each chapter that we’ve read.  We love the variety of projects offered!  Here are a couple we’ve really enjoyed:

making art (but the artist has requested that his art be for home viewing only)–

and preparing (and eating!) Ecuadorean food!

Mango, Avocado and Arugula Salad

Mango, Avocado and Arugula Salad

Aguado de Gallina, or Chicken and Rice Soup

Aguado de Gallina, or Chicken and Rice Soup

I love this unit study.  It is a full and rich resource of ideas that includes something for every kind of learner (kinesthetic, visual and auditory); all the parent or teacher has to do is to page through and select what interests her most, and what would delight her student!  There is enough in this unit study to last an entire semester….or longer!  And when the study is concluded, a door to Ecuador will have been opened that will never close.

This book is a wonderful introduction to the lives of men and women who were completely devoted to following God and His call.  Although parts of the book do deal with tragedy, the accounts are gently and carefully presented, so a parent and a sensitive child could still enjoy the book together.  While children aged 10 and up could read the book on their own, because of the subject matter, and the deep discussions that will inevitably follow, I would recommend that parents and children enjoy this excellent biography as a family.

Jim Elliot:  One Great Purpose can be purchased from YWAM Publishing here for $6.99 (regular price $8.99), and Jim Elliot:  Unit Study Curriculum Guide can also be purchased from YWAM Publishing here for $7.49 (regular price $9.99).  These resources, plus other titles in Christian Heroes:  Then and Now series, will inspire you and your children.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew, to see what others thought about these books!

Enjoy!  –Wren

4 thoughts on ““Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose” Review

  1. Pingback: Be Inspired! | clayton paul

  2. Hi Melanie, We have read some of this series of books and found them difficult to follow and actually moving too slow. Dan was reading them to the boys and stopped. How did Josh like it? I found another series about missionaries also my YWAM that we like better, but is for younger children . It also comes with study guides. Any thoughts?

    Oh, and, we are so sad that winter is coming. Just not up for it this year (shoveling, wind, etc.) Do you feel like posting something about winter survival? Like the good things to look forward to in winter, recipes, tips, etc? (I can give you a recipe for coconut hot chocolate that we are looking forward to using.) Just an idea. 🙂 Thanks Friend! Christy

    • Hi Christy!

      Jackson has found the Jim Elliot story very interesting. However, b/c I know the ending of the story, I chose to do it as a read-aloud. Jackson did read one early chapter on his own one day when we had an appointment out…and he enjoyed it much better when we did it together. Plus, we really LOVE YWAM as an organization, so that helps!

      I also love your idea! I think I’ll take you up on that for November!


  3. Pingback: Jim Elliot on Missions | A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

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