Watch the honest and faith-filled sharing of the wives of the five missionaries who were killed by the Aucas in 1956: Women of Faith.
And here’s the story:
Five Missionaries Speared To Death In Jungle
Many people thought it was a tragic waste of a life when Jim Elliot and the other four missionaries died trying to contact the unreached Aucas.
Yet, how many Christians would risk their life for an opportunity to share the gospel? Jim Elliot, a young modern martyr, gave what he could not keep and gained what he could not lose.
A ‘missions’ statistic that profoundly challenged Jim was, “There is one Christian worker for every 50,000 people in foreign lands, while there is one to every 500 in the United States.” Early in 1952, Jim Elliot sailed for Ecuador. The plan was to locate in an old oil station that was abandoned because it was considered too dangerous for oil personnel. It was close to the Auca tribe and had a small airstrip. In February 1953, Jim and Elisabeth met in Quito and then on October 8, 1953 they were married. Their daughter, Valerie, was born two years later. Jim and Elisabeth worked together in translating the New Testament into the Quechua Indian language at the new mission station. The Aucas were a violent and murderous tribe and had never had any contact with the outside world. Jim wanted to bring the gospel there so he started a plan which was called Operation Auca. Besides him and his wife, his team consisted of five more missionary couples.
‘NOT A LONG LIFE, BUT A FULL ONE’
The men discovered the first Auca huts with the help of a missionary jungle pilot, Nate Saint. The first attempt to contact them was by airplane. They would fly around the camp shouting friendship words in the Auca language through a loud speaker and dropping down gifts in a basket. Encouraged by this progress, after three to four months of gift dropping, they decided to make a base on the Curray River, ‘Palm Beach’. After they had set up shelter they eventually made contact with the Aucas. After a little persuasion, they were able to convince some to come into their camp. Encouraged by this visit, the men felt that it was time to go in and try to minister to them.
One morning, after numerous songs of praise and considerable prayer, the men radioed their wives saying that they were going to go into the village and would radio them again later. ‘Operation Auca’ was under way. The next day, a group of twenty or thirty Aucas went to Palm Beach. “Guys, the Aucas are coming!” As soon as the others heard that, they flew into action straightening up their camp. Little did these five men know that this would be their last few hours of life. The last radio contact they made was Jim calling his wife saying, “We’ll call you back in three hours.” Jim Elliot’s body was found down stream with three others. Their bodies had been brutally pierced with spears and hacked by machetes.
After Jim’s death, Elisabeth, her daughter and another of the missionaries sister, Rachel, moved to work with the Auca Indians. The love of Christ shown through their forgiveness allowed them to have amazing success with the once murderous Indians. Jim’s life was not a waste, in fact, God used his death to bring life through salvation to many Aucas and encouragement and inspiration to thousands of believers worldwide.
Something from Amy Carmichael:
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.
Let us take time today to consider the love of God.
Some of us are tempted to fear about ourselves. What about tomorrow? Shall we be able to go on? Perfect love casts out fear. Love God and there will be no room for fear, for to love is to trust and if we trust we do not fear.
Some of us are tempted to fear the future. There again perfect love casts out fear. He who has led will lead. It quickens love and encourages faith to think of all that God has done. He has not brought us so far, to leave us now.
So let us open all our windows and our doors to the great love of God. Love is like light. It will flood our rooms if only we open to it. Let us take time today to open more fully than ever before to the blessed love of God.
The fact that God’s nature was difficult for me to understand used to be a real challenge to my faith. This was especially true after being diagnosed with ALS. I don’t remember ever asking God “Why me?” but I naturally wondered why God would allow this or any other horrible disease to strike anyone. I began to rethink everything I knew, or thought I knew, about this being we call God.
“I wonder whether we take seriously enough, we grown men and women, the stress that Jesus puts on being a child in order to receive what God has to give? It means God can come fully only to the little one. It means renouncing all ideas of our own spiritual importance, of what we do for God, what we give to God, our own supposed goodness and virtue. It means casting aside any concern for that image of ourselves, so precious to ourselves, that we are indeed truly spiritual men and women. Julian of Norwich maintains that, in this life, we can have no other stature than that of childhood. I think that when Jesus takes the child in his arms, sets him in front of himself, pointing to him as a model, it is to himself he is pointing. His inmost heart was always that of a child and that is hwy he could live with such freedom, courage and self-squandering. To my mind this is the nub of the truly Christian faith, this grasp that all is gift and our work is simply to receive, to learn how to receive. Certainly, when I myself get the spiritual ‘fidgets’ and become anxious about myself and my life, I find my answer in simply saying to myself: ‘You are only a child!’” (Ruth Burrows)
I was delighted when I discovered Caryll Houselander. I found her to be a woman of great honesty about herself and great faith in God. Here is an excerpt from a letter she wrote, describing how she dealt with great fear as she served as an air raid warden in England during World War I. Perhaps I’ve already shared it, but it’s worth sharing again. She offers an approach that I think we can apply to many, if not all, of the challenging emotions we can experience:
During the war I was simply terrified by air raids, and it was my lot to be in every one that happened in London–sometimes on the roofs of these flats, sometimes in the hospital. . . I tried to build up my courage by reason and prayer, etc. Then one day I realized quite suddenly: As long as I try not to be afraid I shall be worse, and I shall show it one day and break; what God is asking of me, to do for suffering humanity, is to be afraid, to accept it and put up with it, as one has to put up with pain (if it’s not druggable) or anything else. I am not going to get out of any of the suffering. From the time the siren goes until the All Clear, I am going to be simply frightened stiff, and that’s what I’ve got to do for the world–offer that to God, because it is that and nothing else which he asks of me.
It usually starts taking shape
from one word
reveals itself in one smile
sometimes in the blue glint of eyeglasses
in a trampled daisy
in a splash of light on a path
in quivering carrot leaves
in a bunch of parsley
It comes from laundry hung on a balcony
from hands thrust into dough
It seeps through closed eyelids
as through the prison wall of things of objects
of faces of landscapes
It’s when you slice bread
when you pour out some tea
It comes from a broom from a shopping bag
from peeling new potatoes
from a drop of blood from the prick of a needle
when making panties for a child
or sewing a button on a husband’s burial shirt
It comes of toil out of care
out of the immense fatigue in the evening
out of tear wiped away
out of a prayer broken off in mid-word by sleep
It’s not from the grand
but from the tiny thing
that it grows enormous
as if Someone was building Eternity
as a swallow its nest
out of clumps of moments
A bit of a balm for those who are fearful:
Jer 39.17: But I will deliver you on that day, says the Lord, and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid.
What is the thing you most fear and most earnestly pray about, the thing that you most dread? If you love your Lord and yet know your own weakness, it is that something may happen to sweep you off your feet, or that your strength may be drained and you may yield and fall, and fail Him at the end. The lives of many are shadowed by this fear.
But take comfort. The God who knew the heart of His servant Ebed-melech knows our heart too. He knows who the men are (what the forces of trial are) of whom we are afraid. And He assures us and reassures us. The Bible is full of “Fear nots.” You shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid. (Amy Carmichael)
Catherine Doherty writes about the love that finds us in the darkness:
Through faith we are able to turn our faces to God and meet his gaze. Each day becomes more and more luminous. The veil between God and man becomes less and less until it seems as if we can almost reach out and touch God.
Faith is a pulsating thing; a light, a sun that nothing can dim if it exists in the hearts of men. That’s why it’s so beautiful. God gives it to me saying, “I love you. Do you love me back? Come and follow me in the darkness. I want to know if you are ready to go into the things that you do not see yet, on faith alone.”
Then you look at God, or at what you think is God in your mind, and you say, “Look, this is fine, but you’re inviting me to what? An emptiness? A nothingness? There is nothing to see. I cannot touch you. I cannot feel you.” Then God goes on to say, “I invite you to a relationship of love: your love of me, my love of you.” Yes, God comes to us as an invitation to love. . . .
At this moment love surges in our heart like a tremendous sea that takes us in and lays us in the arms of God whom we haven’t seen but in whom we believe. Across the waves we hear, “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20.29). Now I walk in the darkness of faith and I see. I see more clearly than is possible with my fleshly eyes.
(Catherine Doherty, Re-entry into Faith: “Courage–be not afraid!”)