I heard the story of Jim Elliot and his fellow missionaries on several occasions over a 4-week span. Coincidence? Probably not. I was so moved by their testimonies that I felt compelled to share the team’s story and that of their families, which is quite remarkable as well. Like these missionaries, so many choose to obey God’s call to offer hope to those in need — physically, emotionally and spiritually. That sounds pretty much like all of us in some way, at some time — either as the missionary or the recipient of God’s will.
At a luncheon to raise funds for a feature film about the missionaries, Steve Saint began by honoring his father who gave his life serving God. Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming tried to make peace with the Waodani people (formerly known as Auca Indians) in Ecuador before sharing the gospel with this reclusive group; communicating through a loudspeaker from a small airplane and using a basket to lower down gifts.
After several months, they decided to camp out near the village. According to Jim Elliot’s journal and photographs from his camera, it appeared that the team had made friendly contact initially on the ground. Some time later, however, others from the Indian group approached the team’s camp, and took the men’s lives.
Steve Saint looking back on this tragic outcome told the audience, “I would rather have a dad who died serving Christ than one who had no knowledge of Christ.” Mr. Saint called “Grandfather” to the stage to join him. The two men embraced and stood beside one another, arms around the other’s shoulder as “Grandfather” spoke and Mr. Saint translated.
“Grandfather” said, “I am one of the men who killed Jim, Nate, and his friends that day in 1956. But since that time, I have come to follow God’s carvings. We have learned His markings now, and we follow His trails.” He went on to say, “We too killed each other (the Waodani people) and had no regard for human life until we came to follow Him!”
The story, however, doesn’t end there. After their death, Jim Elliot’s wife Elisabeth and Rachel Saint (Nate’s sister), began working among the Waodani people. They continued the work that began in 1956 by their loved ones.
“Grandfather” shared other stories of how visitors would come to their village to conduct research — looking for “savages”, but would instead find a peaceful people. He said that he was amazed that people were shocked at their new lifestyle. They were transformed — changed by the power of God.
I encourage you to take time to read about the legacy of each of these men and their families. Several movies (i.e. Beyond the Gates of Splendor) were made in their honor — and to give glory to God for the work that continues even today among the people of Ecuador, more than 50 years later.
So to each of you who have obeyed the call of God here at home or abroad…thank you for your obedience and sacrifice. And, I pray that you are strengthened by the power of the Spirit to do His will.
Thanks for visiting AnEncouragedHeart. Signing off…God Bless! Cynthia