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Jim Elliot: A Christian Martyr Speaks to You Review by Hillary HarmEd. By Robert Lloyd Russell
6000 N. E. Livingston Rd.
Camas, WA 98607-6104
The life and death of Jim Elliot is a story very familiar to believers around the world. Books have been written and movies made about the men who gave their lives in obedience to God's call in 1956.
Robert Lloyd Russell's book is not a book about Jim Elliot. It is, in a sense, a book written by Jim Elliot. As Mr. Russell explains in the opening chapter to this book, his family was well acquainted with the Elliot family when Mr. Russell was growing up, and he remained close to Jim Elliot's mother after Jim's death. In 1971, Mrs. Elliot gave Mr. Russell several recordings of talks Jim had done in 1950 and 1951. Mr. Russell transcribed the tapes, and compiled the transcriptions into a book.
The book is intended to be read by anyone 7th grade and older. Two of Jim Elliot's talks were to classes of 7th and 8th graders in a Christian School. The other two talks were primarily to audiences of adults.
I read this book alongside my eighth-grade son. Too many books written for teens seem to talk down to them or minimize issues. They tend to focus on issues such as getting along with peers or parents, self-esteem, or behavioral goals. (Purity, dating issues, etc.) Jim Elliot spoke to my son about spiritual desire and delighting in God. He discussed sin and its effects on the body and soul of a Christian. He did a character study on Peter, and also discussed Christ as a prophet. These are subjects of depth and meat that are not often placed in front of teens. We had several discussions about topics brought up in the book, and I think it encouraged my son to reach for a higher standard of spiritual discussion, not merely settling for simple topics.
The book is primarily transcripts of Jim Elliot's talks. The introductory chapter was meant to establish how Mr. Russell obtained the tapes, and provide a bit of background to them. The only "con" I found to the book, was a section in the back labeled "Additional Thoughts." In this section, Mr. Russell offers several ideas for the reader to share this book with others. Among his ideas are giving this book as gifts for Christmas or birthdays, giving copies to the youth in your church, writing positive reviews of the book on Amazon.com, or writing to the media and encouraging them to feature the book or interview the author. While I understand the author's desire to have the material in this book read by others, I found this section off-putting.
On the whole, this book is one I would recommend. I enjoyed reading Mr. Elliot's talks and discussing the material with my teen, and appreciated the depth of the material.
Product Review by Hillary Harm, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August, 2010