I’ve decided that since we have church on Thursday nights that this will be my “easier” blogging day – I’ll post something that I already have written, or a simple post with a picture and a quote or something like that. I think I might allow myself to do that 2-3 times a week so that it will give me a chance to put more time into the posts that I have to come up with the other 4 days a week! So, for the next six weeks on Thursdays, I’ll be posting installments of a missionary story about Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, and Roger Youderian – the five men who were killed in Ecuador when they tried to reach the Auca (Waodani) Indians with the Gospel. I wrote it a while ago for a missionary in South Africa who used it in her children’s ministry there, and since there were other people who were interested in reading it, I thought it would be handy to post it here. It’s pretty long, but I don’t want to drag it out for forever, so these posts are just going to have to be longer. 🙂 I feel that the beginning is a little dry, but I didn’t give myself quite enough time to do much editing. However, it does get much more exciting soon.
Hope you enjoy it! I’ll try to add some pictures to the next posts, but I have three minutes before midnight to publish this post, so I need to hurry! (I’ve decided that if I meet my goal of posting every day this month I’m going to treat myself to the new Piano Guys cd afterwards – talk about some major motivation! I love their music! 😉 But that’s another post in itself.) So without further ado, here it is! Enjoy
Missionary Martyrs: The Story of Five Men Who Gave Their Lives for the Gospel
adapted from the book through gates of splendor by elizabeth elliot, with additional information from the book end of the spear by steve saint
(All a’s are pronounced halfway between the a in father and the a in cat)
ARAJUNO – a-ra-HOO-no
ATSHUARA – at-SHWA-ra
*AUCA – OW (rhymes with cow) -ka.
CURARAY – coo-ra-RYE
DAYUMA – dye-U-ma
JIVARO – HE-va-ro
MACUMA – ma-COO-ma
PUYPUNGU – pu-yu-pungu (all four u’s are long)
QUICHUA – KEECH-wa
QUITO – KEY-toe
SHANDIA – SHAN-dya
SHELL MERA – shell-MEH-ra
*NOTE: The names “Auca” and “Waodani” are used interchangeably throughout this narrative for the tribe of South American Indians whom the missionaries were trying to reach. “Auca” is the name that was used to refer to the tribe in the book Through Gates of Splendor, which was written before anyone from the outside had made peaceful contact with the tribe, and is used in this narrative when referring to “Operation Auca” or when directly quoting a missionary’s words. “Waodani” is the correct name of the tribe and is used in all other situations.
Jim Elliot and Pete Fleming stood on the deck of the boat as it pulled away from the pier at San Pedro, California. Excitement and anticipation filled the two young men as they waved back at Jim’s parents, who watched them from land.
“Through our God we shall do valiantly!” Jim called back to them. For it was because of God that he and Pete were on this boat, leaving their homes in America behind. They were traveling to the faraway South American country of Ecuador to tell God’s Word to people who had never heard of Him before.
Later that evening, as Jim stood on the deck of the boat and watched the sky’s light fade and blend with the color of the dark sea, he remembered how as a boy he used to dream of being a sailor. Now he was finally at sea, not as a sailor, but as a passenger, on his way to Ecuador. God was making his boyhood wishes come true, but in a far different way than Jim had ever imagined. Neither Jim nor Pete could have possibly dreamed when they were boys that they would one day be ready to be missionaries to a tribe of people who had never seen a Bible or heard the name of Jesus. But God had always known exactly what He wanted them to do, and He had been preparing them for it even from the time they were children.
When Jim Elliot was a boy growing up in the state of Oregon, his father would read the Bible to him and his three brothers every morning at the breakfast table. Though the children often squirmed in their seats as they listened, the truths of the Bible took root in their hearts, and Jim was not very old when he asked Jesus to be His Savior.
Before Jim finished high school, he had decided to become a missionary. After finishing high school, he left his home to attend Wheaton College in the state of Illinois. Jim was very careful about the activities he chose to spend his time on in college, afraid that he would lose his focus on what was most important: growing closer to God and serving Him.
In his second year of college, Jim felt that God wanted him to be a missionary in a Latin-American country, preaching the gospel to people who had never had a chance to hear it before. He started studying Spanish right away after making this decision, and he chose Greek as his college major so that he would be able to someday translate the Bible into another language.
During Jim’s last year of college at Wheaton, the University of Illinois held a large convention for students who were interested in becoming missionaries. Jim went to the convention and asked God to show him what He wanted him to do. By the end of the convention, God had answered Jim’s prayer and given him peace about becoming a missionary to unreached tribes in the South American jungles. At the end of the summer of 1950, Jim met a man who had been a missionary to Ecuador. The man told Jim about the needs of the people in Ecuador, and also about a tribe of people who had never been successfully befriended by anyone from the outside world – the Waodanis. They were a dangerous tribe, people who would kill each other or anyone outside their people for almost any reason.
Jim prayed about going to Ecuador for ten days to make sure that it was the work God wanted him to do. God gave him peace about this decision, and he wrote and told his parents that he was planning on going to Ecuador. They, along with others who knew Jim well, wondered why he didn’t stay in America, when so many of his own countrymen didn’t know or understand the true message of the Bible. Jim’s answer to their questions was that he did not dare stay home while people in Ecuador were dying without ever hearing about Christ. The people in his own country had Bibles to read and chances to hear the Gospel if they would listen, but the people in South America had no Bibles, no chance to hear the Gospel unless someone went and told them. And after years of asking God to show him what He wanted him to do, Jim Elliot was sure that God was calling him to go to Ecuador to tell the people there about Jesus.
But who would go to Ecuador with him? Jim began praying that God would give him a coworker to go to the mission field with him- a single man like Jim who was willing to work among the tribes. For a while he thought that it might be his friend Ed McCully, but when Ed married in June, 1951, Jim began to pray for another coworker. In August, just a few months later, Jim saw an old friend of his, Pete Fleming, who had just finished college and was praying for God’s direction for his lifework.
Pete, like Jim, was taught to love and obey the Bible from the time he was a child. He was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1928, and at the age of thirteen, after hearing the testimony of a blind evangelist, Pete asked the Lord Jesus to be his Savior. As a young man in his late teens and early twenties, he walked with God in a way that made him stand out from among the other young people his age. He worked and studied hard during his years at college, but even with his busy schedule he took time to pray and read his Bible. After seeing Jim again and writing letters back and forth with him for a while, he came to a decision about his lifework. He had prayed about it harder than he had ever prayed about anything else, and he knew that God wanted him to go to Ecuador with Jim. And so it was that Pete Fleming sailed with Jim Elliot for Ecuador on February 4, 1952. Their missionary journey was just beginning.
As the boat pulled into the harbor at Guayaquil, Ecuador, eighteen days later, Jim and Pete quietly sang, “Faith of our fathers, holy faith we will be true to thee till death.” A tingling feeling came over Pete as he realized he was finally in Ecuador! He and Jim wove between stacks of baggage as they made their way toward the road that ran beside the Guayas River. Guayaquil was alive with movement; everywhere the two young men looked, strange new sights met their eyes. They watched people loading bananas from barges onto a fruit ship, and others coming off of a ferry, shouting as they carried baskets, chickens, cloth bundles and more. The tropical sun beat down on them from above as they crossed the street. Store windows lining the street displayed everything imaginable, from sweaters, typewriters, frying pans, and automobile tires, to fake shrunken heads from the Jivaro Indians and Camay soap.
The next day, Pete and Jim took an airplane to the city of Quito, high in the Andes mountains, where they would study Spanish for the next six months. Learning Spanish, Ecuador’s national language, was the last thing they had to do before they could leave for their final destination of the Oriente – the eastern jungles of Ecuador. Once in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, with its cobblestone streets, adobe houses, beautiful, ornately built churches, and red geraniums and eucalyptus trees, Jim and Pete made arrangements to take Spanish lessons. Their efforts to learn Spanish were helped by the five children of the Ecuadorian doctor whose house they lived in; they had to speak Spanish in order to talk to the family, and the children were not shy about telling them the mistakes they made in speaking, or asking them about the differences between the native people and their foreign guests.
“’Senior Jaime,’” said little Moquetin, a bright-eyed imp of six, ‘Why is it that your face is always red?’
Jim countered, ‘Why is it that your face is always brown?’
‘Because it is much prettier that way,’ was the [little girl’s] unexpected reply.”
Learning Spanish was sometimes frustrating for Jim and Pete, but the hope of one day being able to reach the Waodani Indians kept them diligently working at it. Pete wrote in his diary, “I am longing now to reach the Waodani if God gives me the honor of proclaiming the Name among them….I would gladly give my life for that tribe if only to see an assembly of those proud, clever, smart people gathering around a table to honor the Son – gladly, gladly, gladly! What more could be given to a life?”
Jim and Pete learned many valuable things during their time in Quito, and they were thankful to God for the special time He had let them have there, but the two young men were filled with excitement when the day finally came for them to leave Quito and travel deeper into the jungle, closer to their goal: the Waodani.
After a long, cramped ride on a crowded bus over the mountains, they reached Shell Mera, which had once been a base for the Shell Oil Company, but was now just a small gathering of old wooden buildings. At the southern end of the town was the Ecuador base of the Missionary Aviation Fellowship. Jim and Pete met Dr. Tidmarsh, the missionary they had both written letters to before coming to Ecuador, at the base. In a short amount of time they were all flying north over the green jungle to Shandia.
Shandia did not have an airstrip of its own, so the three men flew to a nearby station and made the rest of the journey through the jungle on foot. This was Jim and Pete’s first time in the jungle, and they were amazed at the incredible variety of plants they saw. Orchids and fungus in brilliant colors stood out against the backdrop of hundreds of different shades of green provided by the many different kinds of trees and plants. They hurried over slippery roots and through deep mud at times, trying to make it to the station before thick darkness fell on the shadowy jungle. They pushed themselves to keep up a brisk pace as it grew darker and darker. Suddenly the jungle ended, and they came out into a clearing. They had reached Shandia.
Jim and Pete’s goal was to reopen the Shandia station. Dr. Tidmarsh had run it in the past, but he had been forced to leave it because of his wife’s poor health. He would stay with the two young men until they were settled.
Immediately after the men had reached the station, Indians gathered around them. The women wore faded blue skirts, and their faces had ink-colored designs drawn on them. Many children stared at the strangers, smiling shyly at the white men. As Jim and Pete got their first look at Quichua people, Pete recognized a few faces from pictures that Dr. Tidmarsh had shown them. “Yes, I can love these people,” he thought to himself. Jim was filled with joy at reaching the destination that he had been working towards reaching for two years. He was so glad that he had obeyed God’s direction for him.
The men stayed in the house where Dr. Tidmarsh had lived at the edge of the clearing. The walls were made of split bamboo and the floors were wooden. It was set up off the ground on posts to give protection from the damp ground and from insects that would try to crawl in. After they settled their belongings into the house, they cleaned the dirt from the hike through the jungle off themselves and explored their new home a little more, then had a meal of rice soup, plantain, manioc, and rice, with coffee. They had reached the end of their journey, but it was just the beginning of their life on the mission field.
Jim and Pete gradually settled into life among the Quichuas, studying their language and their way of life, trying to understand the way the people thought so that they could know the best way to tell them about the Gospel. Dr. Tidmarsh taught them how to give the Indians medicine for the diseases that they suffered from. Jim and Pete learned to speak the Quichua language and gained the people’s trust. They started a school where they taught the children to read and write so that one day they could read the Bible for themselves. But they never forgot that there were other tribes, like the Waodani, who had still never had the chance to hear the story that the Quichua boys listened to every day. Would God give Jim and Pete the opportunity to take the message of the Gospel to the Waodani? About this idea, Pete wrote in his diary, “The thought scares me at times, but I am ready. We have believed God for miracles, and this may include the Waodani. It has got to be by miracles in response to faith. [Any other way] is a short-cut. O God, guide!”
Jim and Pete continued on in their work among the Quichuas, and several months went by. Then, in December of 1952, another friend of Jim’s came to the mission field in Ecuador. His name was Ed McCully, and he, his wife Marilou, and their son Stevie planned to join Jim and Pete at Shandia after spending more than half a year studying Spanish in Quito, where Jim and Pete had stayed when they had first arrived in Ecuador.
Ed McCully had gone to Wheaton College, same as Jim had. During their time at college, they wondered if someday they would work together on the mission field. But Ed’s major was business and economics, not missions, and he was also very gifted at public speaking.
After Ed graduated from Wheaton, he began law school. But in the beginning of his second year of law school Ed worked as a night clerk in a hotel and used the quiet time to read his Bible. God used this time to show Ed that He wanted him to become a missionary.
Ed had made this decision the day before he was to register for his new year of classes, so the next day he went to the school and told them that he wouldn’t be coming back. Like Jim and Pete had experienced, not everyone understood the step of faith that Ed was taking. But also like Jim and Pete, he had given his life to God and trusted Him to lead him.
Ed spent several months evangelizing in an Illinois town with Jim Elliot during the winter of 1951. Before that, he had spoken at a young people’s banquet in Michigan, where he met Marilou Hobolth, a pretty, dark-haired girl who played the piano at the church there. They wrote to each other while he was in Illinois, and in April of 1951, they became engaged, and in June they were married. Ed spent a year at the School of Missionary Medicine in Los Angeles, California, learning as much as he could about tropical diseases and other basic medical needs. Because there were no regular doctors in the jungle, Ed would have to take care of the health needs of the Indians and his own family himself.
After Ed’s time at the school was finished, he, Marilou, and their son Stevie, sailed on December 10, 1952 to Ecuador – the country that God had shown them He wanted them to spend their lives.