As I’ve mentioned before, I believe that learning about heroes of the Christian faith is an important part of our homeschool lessons. We have regularly done unit studies and lapbooks on missionaries, martyrs, and Biblical heroes. That is why I was glad to review the book Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose by Janet and Geoff Benge from YWAM Publishing. We also received the companion unit study curriculum guide. YWAM Publishing is part of the Youth with a Mission ministry.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” ~ Jim Elliot
I’ve heard that quote by Jim Elliot many times and consider it an awesome testament to the way he gave his life to share the Gospel with the unreached. He was only 29 when he died. I first became familiar with the story of Jim Elliot through his wife, Elisabeth Elliot, and her ministry almost 15 years ago. I knew his story about taking the Gospel to the jungles of Ecuador in 1956, but I had never read a book about him until now.
We received the e-book version of the book, which we used as a read-aloud. I will admit that I could not get through it without tears. When the Auca tribe charges at Jim and the other men with spears raised, it is a very poignant and dramatic moment, of course. The men had agreed that though they had guns with them, they would not use them to defend themselves against the ones they had come to save. Although they died for their cause, they could not have fully realized how much their story would affect generations of Christians to come. Jim Elliot’s story has certainly had an impact on our family. It has opened up many discussions on serving God, sharing the Gospel, and helping others rather than being self-focused.
The book is recommended for ages 10+. Jim Elliot’s story is intense so you will have to judge your child’s readiness to handle it. The book is not graphic by any means, but obviously the true story of a missionary who died at the end of a spear is unsettling. Lil Sis (6) and Baby Girl (4) did not sit in for all of our reading sessions with this book. There is a lot of background to the story, such as how Jim grew up, his college days, and how he came to be a missionary in the Amazon rainforest.
Since Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose is a true biography and living book, it lends itself to further study. The topics of history, geography, and social studies are naturally covered with this book. YWAM Publishing has created a Unit Study Curriculum Guide to make it easier for homeschool parents to plan their lessons.
The Unit Study Curriculum Guide includes the following:
- Student Explorations – essay writing, creative writing, hands-on projects, audio/visual projects, arts/crafts
- Social Studies – reproducible maps, geography, terms/vocabulary, journey tracking, critical thinking
- Bible Study – scripture memorization, devotional application, spiritual concepts
- Community Links – meaningful field trips, guest speakers, service projects
- Related Themes to Explore – missions, current events, life skills, math, government, science
- Bibliography or Related Resources – books, movies, documentaries, magazine articles, websites
- Culminating Event – project displays, cultural food, music, and activities, oral presentations
You may view a sample of it here.
Some of the suggestions in the Jim Elliot study include creating a “Disply Corner” with items from/pertaining to Ecuador. This could include a map, coins or paper money, newspaper articles, dolls with cultural clothing, and cooking native foods. Another example of a related activity might be sponsoring a child from Ecuador and writing letters to the child. The study also includes Bible verses to memorize in both NIV and KJV. There are four comprehension questions to correspond to every chapter of the book. Here is a sample:
1. What does reverberating mean (page 12)? Use this word in a sentence.
2. What did Nate and Pete see from the plane that excited them?
3. Why did Sunday, January 8, 1956, mean so much to Jim?
4. Would you like living in a rain forest? Explain your answer.
There are art projects, essay questions, poetry, learning Spanish words and phrases, geography lessons, mapping, and more suggestions for hands-on activities as well. It provides a very thorough study of Jim Elliot’s life and the Ecaudoran people he served through his ministry there. I am impressed with the amount of information covered in this unit study guide. Just taking a chapter per day, this study would last over 2 weeks time.
Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose is just one book in the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series from YWAM Publishing. I would love to have the entire collection! By studying missionaries like Jim Elliot, Big Sis (11) is gaining an appreciation for our religious freedoms and access to the Bible and free worship here in the United States. She is also realizing that being a Christian is more than just words, it requires a willingness to follow God’s call and stand up for what is right and true. Unfortunately these are rare traits in our country today. Positive role models are hard to find. I recommend the Christian Heroes series as a source of inspiration.
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