Scott Postma

A blog about the Great Books, the Craft of Writing, and Human Flourishing.

Through Gates of Splendor

Elisabeth Elliot met Jesus early yesterday morning (June 15, 2015). She died at 88 years old as one of the most influential Christian women in this generation.

It must have been a glorious experience for her to see our Savior face-to-face after a lifetime of kingdom service in a broken and violent world.

One of the first books I read as a new Christian, Through Gates of Splendor, was a staple in the reading diet of nearly every believer who lived in the 20th century.

Like so many other Christians, her account of the five missionaries—Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian—who were speared to death on January 8, 1956 by a band of Huaorani warriors while trying to reach them with the gospel had a profound impact on my life.

The martyrdom of these five missionaries in Ecuador not only made international news, but God used it to light a wild-fire of missionary zeal that led to the funding and organizing of great missionary endeavors across the globe.

jim elliot journal

And it was an entry written in Jim Elliot’s journal before leaving the States that would become the mantra of this revived missionary movement. Elliot famously wrote,

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Two years after their husbands’ deaths, Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint moved in among the violent Huaorani, and brought the gospel to their husbands’ killers.

Elliot went on to became a prolific author and speaker. In Through Gates of Splendor, she recorded her life’s passion:

“I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.”

Having lost her husband of three years to martyrdom, she remarried.

Then she lost her second husband after only four years of marriage.

In the last days of her life, she suffered from dementia. Yet, she faced all of these hardships with the same “reckless abandon for the Lord,” that led her into the jungles of Ecuador.

Elisabeth Elliot was a true disciple who lately being dead, was never afraid to die. And though she is with the Lord, her life yet speaks as a model for all who desire to follow Jesus anywhere he would lead them.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26, ESV)

“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27, ESV)

“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33, ESV)

Through Gates of Splendor is a must-read! If you haven’t read Elisabeth Elliot’s most famous work,  you can get it here.


  • Read Kay Warren’s reflection on Elisabeth Elliot here.
  • Read “Christianity Today’s” feature on Elisabeth Elliot here.
  • Read John Piper’s reflection on Elisabeth Elliot here.
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About Scott Postma

Scott is a writer and teacher living in North Idaho. He loves teaching the Great Books, writing and blogging, and collecting more books than he’ll ever read in a lifetime. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

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