Prayers for Elizabeth Sherrill

With her husband John Sherrill, this husband and wife writing team helped turn a little magazine called Guideposts into a spiritual powerhouse.

Posted in , Apr 27, 2018

Elizabeth and John Sherrill

Elizabeth Sherrill–or Tibby as she is affectionately known–is a powerhouse in publishing. This month she and her late husband John are being presented the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

She plans to attend the awards celebration on May 1 in Washington, D.C.

John died in December at age 94. It’s hard to imagine how she’s managing without him. The two were not only husband and wife for nearly 70 years but they were each other’s first editor.

“You can imagine how much that tests a relationship,” Tibby said. “And yet we made it work.” It certainly is one key to their success.

Their writing career almost seemed to happen by accident. After World War II, where John fought in the front lines, they studied together in Switzerland. Returning to New York, John got the only job he could find: a part-time writing job for a little magazine called Guideposts.

Tibby soon became a contributor herself.  

One day at a Guideposts editorial meeting they heard about a minister who was reaching out to the gang members of New York. David Wilkerson. First there was one article, then two in the magazine. Then the book The Cross and the Switchblade, an international bestseller.

After that they wrote about Brother Andrew in God’s Smuggler and how he spread the Word in places where owning a Bible was deeply suspect.

They chronicled the charismatic movement in their book They Speak With Other Tongues, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Originally that book was going to be a third-person account. “John ruined all that,” she says with characteristic candor and deprecation, “by getting the gifts of the Spirit himself.” The book became a deeply personal story for both.

In The Hiding Place they brought the heroics of Corrie ten Boom to light, showing how she and her sister Betsie saved many victims from the Holocaust in their Dutch watch shop before being arrested by the Nazis.

“It was when Corrie was talking about Betsie,” Tibby says, “that I knew we had a story. Betsie was the one with faith, the one who always trusted while Corrie struggled.” The two ended up in a German concentration camp where Betsie died. Corrie survived to tell their story.

I asked Tibby how it’s been these last few months without John. “Every day,” she said, “I wake up knowing he is with Jesus and that I will be with him someday myself.”

She recently had surgery on her right eye from a blot clot and had to keep her head down for a week. “I’ve gotten to know the pattern in my carpet very well,” she said wryly.

She asked for prayers. Traveling mercies for the trip to Washington and prayers for her eye. She hopes to recover full sight in it, but at age 90, she also was glad to tell me that “you can still drive a car with sight in just one eye.”

Prayers for Tibby and John and a lifetime of achievement. Not only for the books they wrote but the writing and editing gifts that turned that little magazine into a spiritual powerhouse.

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