I was still in Junior High when Jim Elliot died in Ecuador, January 8, 1956. I remember reading of his death in newspapers and in Life magazine. I wondered then about how missionaries approached people where cultural barriers were much stronger than language barriers. I thought of him as being much, much older than I was. He was 28.
I thought about the tribe they were attempting to reach. How easy it would be for others to see the danger and go where there as great a need, but a better reception. Then, I thought of Christ, who went exactly where He was needed, knowing what was to come:
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)
Jim’s wife, Elisabeth, carried the same concern for this tribe. She returned to work with them. There are several books she and others have written about that work: Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, Through Gates of Splendor, and Robert Lloyd Russell's compilation of Elliot's tapes, Jim Elliot: A Christian Martyr Speaks to You.
Almost sixty years have passed since Jim Elliot’s death, but his testimony to Christ’s work in his life continues. In 2002, a documentary was filmed, Beyond The Gates of Splendor, to tell the story of what happened after the five were killed:
Set in the Amazon basin of Ecuador, Beyond the Gates of Splendor tells the story of the Waodani, a violent and isolated tribe, and five North American families who contacted them. All five of the North American men were killed (Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, and Ed McCully). Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of one of the men, and Rachel Saint, the sister of another, went to live with the Waodani. Later, Steve Saint, the son of one of the slain men moved his family from Florida to live with the same Waodani family that had killed his father. (IMDB.com)Because they believed in Jesus as Christ, sent from God:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)
The world, not the neighbors seen from the front porch or met at the grocery store. The world. So that whosoever believes should not perish. It’s a spiritual thing:
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24 KJV)
Those five missionaries felt a need, just as Jesus did when we went to the well:
And he must needs go through Samaria. (John 4:4 KJV)
They, and their families, could have left the tribe alone, just as Jesus could have ignored the woman drawing water. But, they didn’t – and lives were changed. It’s a matter of faith.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)
We can all build our faith:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)