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Faith

'End of Spear' missionary's daughter to speak at women's conference

March 31st, 2014 8:35 am by Staff Report

'End of Spear' missionary's daughter to speak at women's conference

Valerie Elliot Shepard will speak at the 2014 Spring Women's Conference at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Johnson City on April 4-5. (contributed)

JOHNSON CITY — Valerie Elliot Shepard will speak at the 2014 Spring Women's Conference at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Johnson City on Friday, April 4, and Saturday, April 5.

Shepard is the only daughter of Elisabeth and Jim Elliot, missionaries to the Quichua Indians of the Amazon jungle in Ecuador. In 1956, while attempting with four other missionaries to reach the savage Waodani Indians, Jim was speared to death — a story portrayed in the film "End of the Spear." Elisabeth and Valerie continued to live with the Quichua tribe until miraculously they were invited to live with the Waodani tribe that had killed Jim.

Elisabeth and another missionary, Rachel Saint, learned to speak the Waodani language and translated the story of Jesus to them. Most of the Waodanis accepted the truth, and they have not killed since that time.

Elisabeth returned to the United States in 1963 so that Valerie could receive an American education. Valerie graduated from Wheaton College in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in English literature. She married Walter Shepard shortly afterward and moved to live with him in Louisiana. The Shepards now have eight children.

In addition to homeschooling and teaching Bible studies, Shepard's ministry has been one of hospitality, leading prayer meetings, and learning to live in God's grace with joy. She has spoken at many retreats for women and has shared some of her mother's radio ministry, "Gateway to Joy," on Back to the Bible Broadcasting Network. The Shepards also served as missionaries in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, from 2005 to 2008. Currently, they are church planters with Christ Coastal Church in Southport, N.C.

Shepard also has written a children's book, "Pilipinto's Happiness," giving a child's perspective of growing up as a missionary in the Amazon jungle.

"We are very privileged to host Valerie Shepard as our guest speaker for this year's Women's Conference," says Linda Richter with the Women of Westminster. "Her talks will focus on knowing the grace of Christ and abandoning fear to live in freedom. We hope many other women from our community will join us to hear Valerie's powerful message of encouragement, hope and forgiveness."

The weekend kicks off Friday at 6:30 p.m. with fellowship time and a literature table. The program begins at 7 p.m. with a showing of a 1958 documentary, narrated by Elisabeth Elliot, about the five missionary men killed in Ecuador. Shepard will give her testimony and talk about her childhood experiences. Men also are invited to this Friday evening event.

The conference continues Saturday morning, for women only, when doors open at 8:30 a.m., with the program beginning at 9 a.m. until noon. Junior-high and high-school teen girls are invited, to attend this conference, and Shepard will have a special message for them at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday.

Advance registration for nursery and child care is required by Tuesday, April 1, since space is limited. The nursery and child care throughout the conference is provided at no charge. A literature table will be available for purchase and autographs of Shepard's books, videos, and other resources during the conference.

To receive a conference brochure or to register for nursery care, call Westminster Presbyterian Church at (423) 283-4643 or go to www.westminjc.org

The church is located at 2343 Knob Creek Road in Johnson City.

Sunday morning activities begin with Sunday school at 9:15 a.m., and worship service at 10:30 a.m., led by Dr. James E. Richter, senior pastor.

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