61 Years Ago These 5 Men Gave Their Lives for Christ
Today is the anniversary of the death of 5 missionaries speared to death in the jungles of South America while bringing the Gospel to a tribal people who had no contact with outside civilization.
Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Flemming, and Roger Youderian were the young, ambitious for Christ missionaries working to reach a tribal people living along Curaray River of Ecuador. The men were speared to death on a sandbar called “Palm Beach” in the Curaray River on January 8, 1956.
What seemed like a heartbreaking tragedy and widely circulated in the press as one, Elisabeth Elliot, Jim's widow with a 10 month old daughter, saw things differently. Elisabeth saw this loss as no accident, but as an opportunity to forgive and love her husband's murderers. And that she did when she returned to carry on the ministry of her husband and his co-workers. Elliott and her daughter, along with Rachel Saint went back to the same people who killed their husbands and eventually led many of the same people to faith in Jesus, translated Bibles into their language and planted a Christian community there.
Wheaton College has a special memorial section in their school's archives celebrating their lives and legacies. They write, "After the death of her husband Jim, Elisabeth continued working with the Quichua, and kept actively in touch with continuing developments surrounding the deaths of the five men and continuing efforts to reach the Waorani with the Gospel. Her book, Through Gates of Splendor, told the story of the five men and had a major impact on Christians around the world, particularly in the United States. In 1957, Elisabeth met with Dayuma’s aunts who had fled tribal violence. They were reunited with Dayuma in 1958, and the three Wao women opened the way for Elisabeth, along with her daughter Valerie and Rachel Saint, to go and live peacefully in a Waorani cluster of homes belonging to Dayuma’s kinship group. This group included the men who had killed the five missionaries. Elisabeth lived there off and on until 1961, helping lay groundwork for understanding the Wao language and learning firsthand about Waorani culture and beliefs."
John Piper of desiringGod.org writes concerning Elliot, "Around the world, the death of these young men was called a tragic nightmare. Elisabeth believed the world was missing something. She wrote, “The world did not recognize the truth of the second clause in Jim Elliot’s credo: ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.’”
There life and legacy lives on today in the hearts of Christian workers around the world who, inspired by their sacrifice, continue carrying the torch and the message of Christ to the ends of the earth.