I think that everyone loves stories. They teach us much about the world, and ourselves, in an engaging way. Most people can tell stories, and some people tell stories so exceptionally well that we get swept up in them. We picture the scenery, events, and the people moving through the story line. Some of the most engaging stories are those in which the characters face harrowing situations, and they must call upon their God-given inner strength so that they have the courage to go forward. These stories often leave us wondering whether we would have the courage – strength in the face of situations of danger, uncertainty – to act as brave as those who face these situations. It’s even more inspiring to us when these stories are true with the cast of characters that are real everyday ordinary people like you and I.
There’s a true-life story that I would like to share. The story pretty much starts with five ordinary men: Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Peter Fleming and Ed McCully. They were missionaries who had a heart for reaching lost people, they heard about a tribe of people called the Auca (also known as Huaorani Tribe) near the Andes in Equador. This tribe of people did not welcome contact with the outside world and were known to be extremely violent and savage to people within and outside of their tribe. The missionaries wanted to learn the language of the tribe, so that they could translate the Bible for them and share the gospel. For three months they dropped supplies and gifts to them from an airplane in an attempt to establish a friendship. In January 1956, the men established a base camp some four miles from the tribe and invited the tribe to make contact with them at their base. They exchanged gifts with some of the people from the tribe. Four days later there was no contact from the men. The men were found to be speared to death by the very tribe they were trying to reach for Christ. Doesn’t sound like a story with a happy ending does it? Doesn’t seem fair does it? How could God have let this situation happen? What good could possibly come from the death of five men who want to share Christ?
But, the story doesn’t end there! God does redeem this story through Rachel Saint (the older sister of Nate Saint). Rachel also had a heart to reach lost people, and her gift was in writing Bible translations. She along with Elizabeth Elliot, Jim’s wife, were spurred on by this incident and became passionate about reaching the Auca. Two years after the death of the male missionaries. Rachel and Elizabeth moved into the Aucaian village and lived side-by-side with the people there. It would be nine years later that the Gospel of Mark was published in Auca, and the Aucaian people are reached by God in this unexpected way. And, some mighty work was done in God’s name by these two women. It’s a true-life intriguing story, set in an almost impossible situation.
I can’t imagine having the heart and the courage to enable me to move into a savage environment with the very people who killed my brother, or husband, in an attempt to bring the gospel to them. But God. God enables even the most seemingly impossible situations to become incredible stories for His glory. Jim, Nate, Roger, Peter, and Ed didn’t know just what they would face when God put the Auca people on their hearts. They paid the ultimate price of serving God. Surely Rachel and Elizabeth, had a much better idea of what they would face, but, they still garnered the courage to step out to serve God in a mighty way.
God calls each of us to face unknown situations that require us to exhibit faith and courage in Him. Some on a grand scale, and some on a not so grand scale. I think that I am safe in saying that most of us will never, ever face what Jim, Nate, Roger, Peter, Ed, Rachel, and Elizabeth faced.
If God equipped those missionaries to carry out His plan to reach the Auca, then He will equip ordinary people like you and I to do whatever it is that He has in store for us.
Hebrews 13: 20-21 “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (ESV)
If you want to know more about this incredible story of courage, forgiveness, and grace then I suggest that you read the book: Rachel Saint – A Star in the Jungle, by Janet and Geoff Benge.