One of the world’s most widely read Christian authors recently passed away at the age of 95, but few people would recognise her name.
Elizabeth Sherrill was the co-writer of the biographies of Corrie ten Boom, Brother Andrew and New York street evangelist David Wilkerson that together sold more than 70 million books.
The Hiding Place, God’s Smuggler and The Cross and the Swtichblade became bestsellers for decades.
The late Pentecostal leader Jack Hayford said Ms. Sherrill had “an uncanny knack for always touching the heart strings” as she co-authored more than 30 non-fiction titles.
“I marvelled at the way the books she touched .. inspired readers toward belief. Elizabeth’s gifts as a manuscript stylist, editor and publisher were enormous. She knew how to tell a story with power,” Jeff Crosby, president of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association told Publishers Weekly.
EIizabeth Sherrill founded Chosen Books with her late husband John and edited and published numerous Christian bestsellers, including Charles Colson’s Born Again, Don Basham’s Deliver Us from Evil, and Bilquis Sheikh’s I Dared to Call Him Father.
Christianity Today reports the Sherrills’ trademark was testimonials to the power of God’s Spirit.
The couple’s most personal testimony of the power of the Holy Spirit came with the publication of They Speak with Other Tongues. The book started as a journalistic investigation of the charismatic movement, but became something different when John started speaking in tongues and Elizabeth had the same experience, receiving “a spontaneous outpouring of a heavenly tongue” and speaking in a “fluent and beautiful prayer language.”
They wrote the book together under John’s name and from his first-person perspective. Christianity Today wrote: “It played a major role in popularising the charismatic movement and the idea of speaking in tongues among evangelicals.
Elizabeth wrote more than 2,000 articles for Guideposts a daily devotional publication. Its former executive editor Rick Hamlin said she “found a perfect calling in coaxing stories out of others and then helping them share their highly personal accounts of God at work in their lives.”
When Christianity Today collected a list of the top 50 books that shaped evangelicals in the 20th century, the Sherrills were named more frequently than C. S. Lewis, Billy Graham, J. I. Packer, Phillip Yancey, Tim LaHaye, John Piper, or James Dobson. They occupied three spots on the list and were the editors behind a fourth.