Sunday, January 08, 2006

January 8, 1956 - January 8, 2006

They were convinced that Sunday, January 8, was going to be the day... And, in a sense, it was.

Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian -- an idealistic band of young men -- had been planning, praying, and preparing for months to make contact with a violent tribe of natives deep in the jungles of Ecuador. Driven by a desire to share the story of Jesus with this Stone Age society that had been cut off from the rest of civilization for thousands of years, they had deliberately disregarded the dangers (well-documented by a trail of blood through surrounding tribes and foreigners who had dared set foot in "Auca" territory) and developed a tenuous relationship with these curious people. Systematic distance interaction, gift exhanges, and a breathless first encounter had left the men hopeful. And on that day, early in 1956, it seemed that face-to-face contact with the "Aucas" (Quechua for "naked savages") was imminent. Exactly fifty years ago, this morning, the five young missionaries woke up with an expectation of something revolutionary.

And exactly fifty years ago, this morning, the five young missionaries were violently murdered by their jungle "friends," who revolted against them in fear and confusion. It's difficult to ascertain everything that happened on that January morning, but the only certainty of the day was that five corpses were left floating in the waters of the Curaray.

They were five men who were my age, with wives the age of my wife, and with kids the age of my kids. Like me, each one of the "Auca martyrs" was an American idealist, living "like a stranger in a foreign country... looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." And I cannot help but be impacted by their story. Fifty years ago today, Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian were rudely thrown off a sandbar in the Amazonian rainforest and consequently escorted into the immediate presence of the Living God; and in so doing, a process was begun which brought the light of the Gospel to a very dark place and revolutionized an entire society in South America.

I've long been inspired by the story of these men, recorded in the book, “Through Gates of Splendor,” by Elisabeth Elliot (widow of Jim Elliot). It only feels appropriate to remember them on this Sunday, January 8, 2006 -- the fiftieth anniversary of that fateful day in Ecuador -- and reconsider the words of Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”


At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tribute. The impact these five men on my life and that of so many of my peers was significant! I'm glad that you are answering the call today. And I'm grateful that we have technology that allows us to communicate so much more readily. I wish for you and your family the best.


At 3:41 AM, Blogger Jay said...

I don't know if you got the video from Grandma, "Beyond the Gates of Splendor," and I myself haven't been able to watch it yet, but Heather said it was really good.

Also, while in "Hobby Lobby" this weekend, I saw an ad for another Jim Elliot tribute film: "End of the Spear" (see scheduled for release Jan. 20th. I mention it only because it intrigued me.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Eric Asp said...

I have seen the documentary, "Beyond the Gates of Splendor," and I'd highly recommmend it to anyone interested in this story. However, I haven't seen "The End of the Spear" yet. It seems a bit less compelling to me (dramatized re-enactments always come across a bit cheesy, unless Steven Spielberg and major Hollywood investments are involved), but I could be wrong...

At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had no idea it was the fifty year anniversary. I have read Through The Gates Of Splendor, and I have to say it is a powerful and moving book. And I know Jim lived a powerful and insipring life. Even though he died in his early twenties, his mission still unfinished, his influence was so great it did transform a society in South America, and I know missionaries are still naming their sons after him. Thanks for reminding us of him.

Also, I've heard End of the Spear is very good, but I haven't seen it myself yet.



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