In early September, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was selected to review a book and unit study from YWAM Publishing (YWAM = Youth With A Mission) for purposes of review.
On September 5 I received a PDF download of their book Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose , and its related unit study book, Jim Elliot - Unit Study/Curriculum Guide.
I am homeschooling one student, an often challenging 8th grade son. For purposes of this review I chose to read this book out loud to my son. This way we both got to enjoy this book,and I didn't to find out later that my son "read it, but wasn't really paying attention". (He has told me this before about assignments I have had him read. ::sigh::) In addition, I will preface this review by making it clear that my son is very difficult to please when it comes to the items I review. Just saying...
So, early in September my son and I began our journey through Jim Elliot's life. I read the PDF off the computer rather than printing it out. And, much to my surprise, my son liked the book!
To get my son to listen, to pay attention, when I am reading out loud is usually difficult. Not so with this book. JD was appearing distracted, doing other plastic-manipulative-hands-on things while I read, but he was totally paying attention. At the appropriate time he would laugh, or gasp, or say, "I knew it! I knew that was going to happen!" What a pleasant reading experience for me; what a relief and a pleasure!
Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose was delivered to me in PDF format. It is available in Kindle or Nook format for $6.99, or in paperback format for $8.99. It has 192 pages divided into 16 chapters, followed by an Epilogue and a Bibliography. I tried to find a suggested age range for this book, but even the big "book site" didn't have an age range indicated. I had wondered if it would be "too young" for my almost-14-year-old, but it was definitely not. For most children I would say it would work as a read-aloud for 7 to 12-year-olds (using discretion regarding the content, if your child is tender hearted), and could be read independently by 11-year-olds to adult.
The story of Jim Elliot's life begins the day Jim and his fellow missionaries met the Auca Indians in 1956, but quickly flashes back to tell how he got there. The first flash-back goes to 1952, but then further flashes back to give glimpses of Jim's upbringing and family life. After this initial introduction to allow the reader to "get to know" Jim Elliot, the story returns to the day in 1952 when Jim said good-bye to his parents and began his life as a missionary. In a way that kept my son captivated, the story told of the struggles of death where no real medical care is available; of years of labor, wiped away by water-saturated land collapsing into the river; damp, moldy jungle life when it is so humid nothing will dry; of sleeping in a thatched hut with roaches dropping on the sleepers all night long. The story, nevertheless, captivates the reader with its joys and sorrows, the amazing provisions of God, and the surprising welcome with which Jim and Betty were received at a new home after the old settlement was washed away by the river.
The story progresses as the focus of the missionary work gradually changes from the successful work with the Quichua people to the target of the dangerous Auca Indians.
Jumping ahead away, if you have been a Christian for any period of time you might very well know how this story ends. I won't reveal all. Just suffice it to say, biographies are generally written... well.. after someone's life has come to an end. So I will reveal here that my son doesn't do well with reading about how someone's end came. I often have to adjust the end of a story that tells of someone's demise. If your child is similarly tenderhearted, then please do read ahead in advance and figure out how you will present the end of the story to your child when you get there.
The epilogue, in a few pages, tells how God continued to work among these people after the end of Jim Elliot's life, and how his work inspired others to consider missionary work.
Jim Elliot - Unit Study/Curriculum Guide is a book to use in conjunction with Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose. I received Jim Elliot - Unit Study/Curriculum Guide as a PDF download, but it available to the public as a 62-page paperback that sells for $7.49 on the YWAM web page (regularly $9.99). Age level suggestions are not included because the content has such a wide range of possible activities that any age student can benefit from it. It has everything from early education (identify the continents, locate Oregon, California, Ecuador, color maps, etc.) to high school education (essay questions, creative writing) and everything in between (topographical maps, field trips, invite special speakers, etc.).
As I began work on the Unit Study with my son, its value and his need for this extra study became obvious.
Me: "Where do you think Ecuador is?"
Me: "No, it's in the Americas. Do you know where?"
JD: "Central America. Definitely."
Me: "Actually, it's in South America."
JD: "No it's not!"
Me: "No, really, it IS in South America. Go get the globe. I'll show you." And so it went. Locating Ecuador on the map was one of the suggested activities. I really like the activity, with the world map, of putting tacks or pins at the various locations where Jim Elliot was at various times and running string or yarn from pin to pin to show his journey's progression. I also liked the suggestion of attending a Spanish church service to help the student understand what it must have been like for Jim when he first reached Quito. We didn't need to do this where we live, though. (We just need to go to our local W-store...)
The Jim Elliot - Unit Study/Curriculum Guide gave us suggested key Bible verses to be used alongside or as part of the study. I did not require memorization, as my son is already working on a Bible memory program through our church. We read through the verses and discussed them and how they applied to Jim Elliot's life. The book contains suggestions for creative writing, drama, movie critiquing, reading comprehension, and history and geography concepts. It is created to be used in conjunction with Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose. [For that reason, it is my thought that the title should be "Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose - Unit Study/Curriculum Guide. I say this here as a suggestion to the publisher.]
The chapter-by-chapter discussion questions are brief and to-the-point, designed to make sure the student is listening, comprehending, and not missing important information by not having vocabulary comprehension. ("What does 'thatched' mean? Use this word in a sentence.") The comprehension questions are followed by a chapter with deeper, more involved suggested activities: essay questions; creative writing ideas; hands-on projects; audio/visual project ideas; arts and crafts activities; and examples of sample English phrases the students can learn to say in Spanish ("Jesus quire los ninos." - Jesus loves the little children. - sorry I don't know how to add special accents and such...)
The next chapter suggests ways to reach out in the community -- field trips to go on, ideas for bringing speakers in, things to impress upon your students regarding respecting those of different origin. This chapter is followed by a chapter with Social Studies suggestions regarding places Jim Elliot spent time; journeys he took; vocabulary terms; geographical characteristics and conceptual questions. Culminating ideas include foods to try, further terms and vocabulary, further geography (various rivers, volcanoes, large cities, mountain ranges), and so much more. The back of the book has title suggestions for further reading.
So, basically, what I'm saying is this little unit study book packs a big punch.
I have long been a proponent of missionary study. When this book came up for us to review, I was happy to have a missionary to study that we hadn't gotten to yet. These resources have been fabulous. And next, on our missionary title list, is Jungle Pilot, which is the biography of Nate Saint, who was the air plane pilot for Jim Elliot. I hope it is as gripping as Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose has been. It is so much more enjoyable to teach when your student is interested in the material. I don't get to experience that often, but that was my experience with these materials.
Worth my time? Definitely.
Worth the price? Absolutely!
Do I recommend it? Without a doubt.
Other members of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed these materials, and some reviewed YWAM's George Washington: True Patriot. To read other reviews of these YWAM materials, please click on the icon below.