I wrote this blog five months ago for a School assignment. After reading of a recently martyred missionary, John Allen Chau, I felt like I needed to go ahead and publish it:
Was their death in vain? Many people asked this question after hearing the news of five young missionaries ( Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, and Ed McCully) martyred in the jungles of Ecuador on January 8, 1956. I’ll tell you right now that their deaths, although extremely tragic, were not in vain. Their deaths played an important part in the salvation story of the Waorani tribe (Waorani was the tribe’s actual name).
In a way their death was like that of Christ’s: They could have avoided death with a few shots of their guns, but they died peacefully, like sheep about to be slaughtered.
They freely gave their lives as a sacrifice so the tribe might be saved (while their deaths were actual sacrifices, all missionaries today give their lives as a living sacrifice). Though at the time they did not know that revival would “hit” the tribe, I honestly think that their last thoughts as they were dying were probably a prayer for the Waorani to receive salvation.
Their wives endured much sorrow, but through God’s grace they were able to willingly forgive the people of the tribe for the horrible sins they committed. Two of the widows ended up staying with the tribe and saw the salvation of the whole tribe. The widows didn’t even think about revenge, but instead, spent every chance they had to pray for them. The tale of five men going into the jungle and not coming out impacted the world.
The stories of how people responded in the months following the killings are powerful. Encouragement letters were sent to the widows from all over the world. There was an evangelized tribe in Brazil that asked the Lord’s forgiveness for their fellow tribal group due to the news of the Waorani tribes’ killings. There was a missionary in Egypt who was a friend of one of the men who died. When she found a piece of a newspaper in a river that had the missionary’s photo on it, she began to pray for the widows.
Even though their deaths were tragic, it created a spark, and that spark burst into a flame. That flame caused many people to want to go to the mission field, including me, my family and many other other missionaries who are currently serving on the mission field. Chapter 11 of Hebrews is what we call the “hall of fame” of faith. I believe that God is still adding people to that chapter. I believe the five missionaries that died in 1956 were added to that chapter, and that God is still adding names. I want to be added to that chapter. Do you? So I leave you with this question: What have you done lately that has required faith and sacrifice?
Hebrews 11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions…
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.