Monday, March 8, 2010

Elinor Young - missionary hero

PSALM 147:

He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

(this is a rough draft by a co-worker of the biography of Elinor Young, an inspiring story)

Elinor Young – biography

Elinor Young was born in Spokane, Washington, USA, on November 5, 1946. Her parents were Alfred Earl and Rosetta Young. Al (sometimes called Earl) was a “range manager” there in Washington state, helping farmers with many aspects of their raising of cattle.

In December, 1951, Elinor contracted polio. She was in a hospital in Spokane, Washington, for seven months, then spent two years in out-patient therapy. Between the ages of 9 and 14, she was hospitalized in Shriner’s Hospital in Spokane, Washington, several times.

Elinor had committed herself to finding and following the Lord’s will from the age of 9! And as Elinor’s physical situation improved, she eventually became interested in working as a missionary overseas. After being accepted by RBMU (Regions Beyond Missionary Union – now called World Team), and raising her ministry support, at the age of 27, Elinor was able to begin her work in the Korupun (or Kimyal) tribe in Irian Jaya, Indonesia.

She spent 17 years in Irian Jaya. In that remote interior mountain tribe, she did linguistic and translation work. She analyzed and learned the Kimyal language and began Bible translation, but, of necessity in such a mission setting, did various types of medical work (including tube feeding some babies), used the SSB radio to communicate with friends and mission leaders, as well as for air traffic with MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship), the link through small Cessna aircraft with the outside world for supplies, etc. (There were not – and still are not – any roads in that rugged mountainous area.) These formerly Stone Age people were transitioning from a barter economy to using currency, so Elinor was inevitably an economic consultant as well!

In 1991, with her translation work far from completed, Elinor had a major PPS (Post Polio Syndrome) attack, and had to return to the States for major medical treatment. Her condition deteriorated for some time, precluding any hope of returning to minister in Irian Jaya. By late 1996 she could walk only a few feet, needed a respirator 18 hours out of 24. with no more than four consecutive hours free from it, struggled through thick chronic brain fatigue, and needed prescription pain relievers and sleep aids. Every few months measured new decline.

Then, near the end of 1996, she did receive help through treatment by Futures Unlimited, Inc., and improved to the point that she began a ministry to other polio victims, primarily through writing and the internet. She was so thankful to the Lord for allowing her this new freedom and ability to minister! In May, 1998, she wrote: “Yes, I am enjoying to the hilt my new greater level of strength and health. I relish the ability it gives me to be involved in the kinds of things I was made for. I thrill at the prospect of fulfilled dreams.”

In time, Elinor became more involved in various state-side ministries with her mission, World Team. Though officially retired due to disability, she remains as active as her limited energy will allow. She loves mentoring future missionaries, editing the Great Commission Kids magazine, speaking about missions, and trying to help God's people catch the passion of God's heart for the world.

Now, in March, 2010, she has made a return trip to Irian Jaya (now called Papua, Indonesia), to attend the dedication of the Korupun New Testament, which her colleague, Rosa Kidd, and a team of Korupun nationals, have finished translating.

Based on what we have seen of her life so far, we believe that Elinor will continue to serve the Lord with all the energy and strength He gives her, though far less than most other people enjoy. She will continue to be an inspiration to many! She will continue to be delighted whenever she hears that her life, and her trust in the Lord to use her despite her stringent limitations, has, in some small or great way, had an impact on others! She wants to encourage more involvement in every way possible, to get God’s Word to needy people at the very ends of the earth!


  1. Hi Trevor - I FWD'd your newsletter to a friend in Bali who is a "tent-making" missionary, and her name is Paula.... I saw what you wrote about Bali, and she might be intrested... also, this is very interesting you posted this video by Pipe, ive just bumped into anothter great testimony of hos God will use us..... a woman who had no education, and was even rejected by an agency for lack of education, but was a pioneer in China in 1950 and 1960's , have you heard of Gladys Aylward? here is a link - such an inspiring story!

  2. Thank you so much for this blog post--I really enjoyed reading it. Yes, Elinor is a true hero. She figures in to my most recent missionary book, and I have two activity pages that feature her, here: The last two activity pages on the webpage feature Elinor. What a great lady!