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Speaking in the Light 1/25/2006

By Rick Racela

There is a motion picture presently playing at the movies that I would strongly recommend any person of faith to get out and see.  It is called “The End Of The Spear” and it is the tragic yet hopeful story of what happened 50 years ago in the most remote of places amidst a jungle in Ecuador. 
Five American missionaries were killed in January of 1956 by the then referred to as Auca (Today we know them as the Tribe of the Waodani) Indians.  One of the missionaries martyred that day, Jim Elliot, has given this generation one of its most inspirational and thought-provoking mandates. 
When asked as to why he would risk his life to take part in such a forbidden and treacherous work, Elliot said, “He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he can never lose.”  And such is the heartbeat of true biblical faith.
For Jim Elliot, the seeds of a life that longed to make an eternal impact were planted at a very young age.  He grew up in Portland, Oregon and every morning before they could do any other activities, Jim and his brothers and sisters read the Bible along with their father.   When Jim was a little boy, he invited Jesus Christ to be his Savior and Lord.  By the time Jim was in high school, telling others about the difference Jesus had made in his life had become very important to Jim.  He would carry his Bible to school and always have it on the top of the stack of books he carried with the hope that somebody would ask him, “Why?”   When Jim went to college, this boy from the Pacific Northwest made sure to study Spanish because he believed that God would be sending him to a Latin American country. 
During one of the summers that Jim was in college, he offered to do some volunteer work with the Native American Indians on a reservation in the States.  All the time he was there, he sought God for specific direction and the right place to go so that Jim could serve the Lord with his life.  Jim felt an unusual stirring to go to a place where the people who lived there had never heard of the name of Jesus before.
After graduating college, Jim ended up in Ecuador working with the Quichua Indians – a wonderful culture where even I have had the privilege to spend three different awesome periods of time there.  These people lived in the jungle, but many of them had already heard about Jesus – so Jim prayed on. 
 Somebody told Jim about a tribe that lived deep in the jungle who were so shy and fierce that no westerners had been able to meet them.  It was right then and there that Jim and four other friends began to pray about how they could meet an Aucan Indian.
Jim and his four friends knew that there was a great risk in going into the jungle.  Since the 1600’s, nobody had ever learned to speak the Auca language.  Even the government officials were not happy about Jim and his friends visiting the Aucas because they were known killers.
Everyone who had ever encountered the Aucas to that point had told tales of ambush and murder.  But Jim Elliot, Nate Saint and the others also knew that Jesus had died so that everyone could have the opportunity to know the difference knowing personally the God who made this heaven and earth would and could bring.  Somebody had to at least tell the Waodani’s about Jesus and these guys were not afraid of dying.
They all had the confident assurance that if they died, they’d be on their way to heaven.  Jim had written in his journal about the risk of being killed and he was willing to take that chance and one of faith’s most enduring qualities is that it sets you free from the fear of death so that you can really be ready to live for so much more than just existing.
After some encouraging first encounters, things turned ugly quick and believe it or not – all because of a lie.  Hasn’t this been the case in mankind ever since the beginning?  Truth has a way to set us free and lies have a way to forever mess things up.
The lie that circulated among the Aucas was that these visitors were really cannibals and they did not come in peace.  The Aucas were so afraid that they thought that they needed to kill these strange men in their midst and so armed with spears and blow guns with poison tipped darts- Jim and all four of his comrades were killed one eventful day in the jungles of Ecuador.
Time magazine did a story about this tragedy back in 1956.  Everyone who learned about this event was shocked.  But that was not the end of the story.  Many thousands of people began to pray for the wives and children of these five men.
 Others began to pray that God would send other missionaries to tell the Aucas about Jesus.  Before these men died, very few had even heard about the Aucas – now everyone was crying out to God on their behalf.  Even the neighboring Quichua Indians in Ecuador were praying for the Aucas to be saved.
The amazing grace of this incredible story is that those individuals God used to turn the tide amidst a people that would have eventually killed each other off and wiped out their entire population involved Jim Elliot’s wife, Elisabeth, their baby daughter Valerie and Nate Saint’s sister, Rachel. 
These women went back and did not let hatred get the final word.  They told the people who murdered their husband, father and brother about God’s redeeming love.  And today, the Waodani’s are no longer a people to be feared – they are a people of authentic faith. 
 It was Elisabeth Elliot who has said so eloquently, “Only God who made iron swim, who caused the sun to stand still, in whose hands is the breath of every living thing- only this God- who is our God forever and ever- – only He could have done it.”
And that brings us to a movie that I encourage you to go and see – “The End Of The Spear.”  Steve Saint, the son of the murdered missionary pilot Nate Saint, shared that this movie could only have been made with the permission of the Waodani people. 
At first, the Waodani’s said, “No.”  It only changed after it was explained to the tribe how desperately America needed to hear their history.
 Saddened by verbal details about recent North American killings (they were told about such tragedies as Columbine and Paducah killings and 9/11) the Waodani’s felt compelled by God and gave their blessing to the project and in doing so- in a strange mysterious twist that could have only been authored in heaven. Now the Aucas are being the missionaries to us in teaching us how to treat one another with love and respect and to value life much more than we presently do.   
“He is no fool who gives away what he cannot keep – to gain what he cannot lose.”  Let me know what you think of the movie…
You can email Pastor Rudy by writing him at baseball@eticomm.net or The Lighthouse Church, PO Box 1026, Rio Grande, N.J. 08242

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