Book review time! I read Through Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot while I was sick in bed the past few days and still reeling. If you’re like me, and have grown up in GA’s or any other Christian missions organization, you’ve heard the story of Jim Elliot and his five missionary colleagues who risked their lives to plan and carry out a plant to share the gospel with a tribe of hostile indigineous people in eastern Ecuador. Jim, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian (sp.?), Pete Flemming, Ed McCully and their wives were, simply put as my husband would, baller. Or is it ballers? You get the point.
These five couples were exemplary long before the dramatic climax. Elliot does an incredible job setting the stage for the events of January 1956. Not only do we hear how they ended up flying in a yellow Piper plane over hostile Indian territory, we get to hear how they ended up in Ecuador to begin with- AND how they met their wives (who all have pretty great names too, Olive, Marj, Marilou, Barb, and Betty. I hope we would be friends if I had the privilege of knowing them). Elliot tells the important story of these five men and their obedience FIRST to the Lord- whatever that looked like in the season. Eventually it led them all to be married, move to Ecuador, minister beautifully to people groups in the area, and finally combine forces to bring the gospel to the Auca/Waorani tribe deep in the jungle. I say it is important, because we are prone to focus on the dramatic, but that would be totally missing the point in this case. These five men and their incredible wives were godly…wherever they were. In America as they studied, they were seeking the Lord and committing themselves to him wholly. As they shared the gospel around the States, they were faithful to what the Lord had called them to- to preach his Word. As they met their spouses, they were godly, putting each other a firm second in the line of allegiance. As they prepared to move overseas, they were faithful. As they prepared to go overseas, they did not lose sight of the one true prize, Christ. As they learned Spanish and built houses in the jungle, doing things that didn’t seem to mean much “to the kingdom”, they were faithful. They did not lose hope.
As they planned the operation that would eventually cost them their lives, they did not shrink back, they did not falter. They counted the cost, and moved forward. They did not look to the right or to the left, but heard a voice behind them saying “this is the way, walk in it.”
They were able to walk with joy the path set before them, knowing it could mean their lives, because they had made a pattern of walking just so all along.
The five men were brutally martyred for their faith in January 1956 by the very people they had come to share the gospel. Their diaries an letters are so unbelievable to read, now, over a half a century later. They were confident in what the Lord had led them to, and they were confident that the outcome would be “of him.” Their wives were too. I cannot imagine.
Olive Flemming and her husband Pete had only been married a few months.
I cannot imagine. Graham and I have been married 13 months now and I still feel as though I am just getting to know him, just beginning to realize what an amazing gift I have received in him.
What happened to the tribe that killed them? Well, they are believers now. Elizabeth Elliot and Nate Saint’s sister, Rachel, moved into their tribe a year or so after the massacre to share the gospel of Christ with them. You heard me.
Don’t know what to do with that? Me either. Read the book, and let me know what you think. Don’t have time to read the book? Find it. It’s worth it.
May we begin patterns of life TODAY that welcome the Lord to be that little voice behind us saying “this is the way, walk in it.” AND let’s pray for courage to walk in it.