Elsie Elliott was born in a low income family and her mother was emotionally unavailable. Elliot has written extensively about this aspect. She had to work to meet the basic needs of life. Plymouth Brethren was one of religion that made a big impact on her life. Elsie met Elliott (her first husband) family from this church, and those family members always gave her warm memories during that moment. During the Second World War, her landlord became her best friend; most of Elsie Elliott’s friend was also from the same church. As a natural course of action, she thought that it is the power of religion that could bring peaceful and fair trade environment to the world. This empathy made her want to become a missionary, follow the church decision and come to China. Subsequently went to Hong Kong. As per her writings, the simple reason was to teach pagans believe Jesus and Jesus will give a clear direction of life to everybody.
On analyzing the principles of Plymouth Brethren, it was found that here was not a membership system, no church, no clergy, no class respectively, not required donation and regular meeting of “Breaking of Bread”. It is quite similar with the religion of Evangelics. As mentioned earlier, Elsie Elliott was one of the religious activists, her unhappy childhood and misfortune made her strongly believe in religion, She chose missionary as a lifelong career. However, this is an idealistic thinking.
When she went to China for preaching mission, she observed that the rules of Plymouth Brethren were rigid and did not make sense. There was no interaction with other Christians, female missionary must have long hair and wear hat in the church, obey husband and church, etc. These patriarchal notions were not considered to make sense.
According to Elsie Elliott’s writings, there are three main reasons that made her change from a religious activist to political activist. The first one is her preconceptions from life experiences. Despite the sadness, she believed that tradition missionary is a puppet that control by colonial powers. For this point, I will quote more example details for next chapter. Second, religious disillusionment, when Elsie Elliott went to China and Hong Kong, both two places gave her an impressive image – political chaos caused people difficult to survive. The last reason, she was influenced by a different social circle, such as her second husband Du Xuekui, Huang Menghua and later the Reform Club of Hong Kong’s members, after she divorced with her first husband and went back to Hong Kong in 1955, she started chapter in her life and did not maintain relationship with Plymouth Brethren church. In the interim , she always believed in God and was prepared to build a place as a dedication to God.
As mentioned above, these three reasons are also influenced by religious and gave a big change to Elsie Elliott. Even though Elsie Elliott left her church, she still believes that “love” and “help” are both Christian spirit.