Born February 27th, 1955 in Shell Mera, Ecuador, Valerie was the only daughter of missionary parents, Elisabeth and Jim Elliot. They were missionaries to the Quichua Indians of the Amazon jungle. In 1956, while attempting to reach the Waodani Indians (a primitive and savage stone-age tribe) with 4 other missionaries, Jim was speared to death in January of 1956. Elisabeth and Valerie continued to live with the Quichuas until miraculously they were invited to live with the Waodani tribe that had killed Jim. They lived with these Indians for 2 years in safety and contentment, as Elisabeth and another missionary, Rachel Saint learned to speak the language and translated the story of Jesus to them. Most of them accepted the truth and said they would not kill anymore, and have not since that time.
Elisabeth decided in 1963 to move to the States in order for Valerie to receive an American education, and they lived in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In 1968, Elisabeth married Addison Leitch, a professor of theology and Presbyterian minister. Valerie attended and graduated from Wheaton College in 1976 with a BA in English Literature. She married Walter Shepard shortly after that and moved to live with him in Louisiana.
Valerie has spent 36 years being a pastor’s wife, raising 8 children, homeschooling, and teaching Bible studies.
Valerie and Walter’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 the radio ministry, called “Gateway to Joy,” with her mother, on Back to the Bible Broadcasting Network. Valerie loves to teach, and was part of the team with her husband in Kinshasa. Walter and Valerie’s desire, ever since they were first married, was to go to the mission field, and Africa was always part of that dream. God opened the door for them to move to Kinshasa, DRC, in August, 2005, and they stayed until June 2008. Because of health reasons, they decided not to go back, but God moved them into a different American mission field- planting a church!