"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." (Jim Elliot)
In 1956, Jim Elliot and four other men (Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, Nate Saint, and Ed McCully) set out to Equador to minister to the Auca. The Aucas were an unreached people group with no contact from the outside world and were know to be hostile to any outsiders.
For three weeks they circled the tribe in their Piper PA-14 airplane, dropping gifts and attempting to show that they were not hostile. After a few friendly encounters, they prepared to make direct contact with the tribe. On January 8th, 1956, Jim and crew landed their plane on the beaches closest to the Auca tribe. There they were met by women and children and began to believe that they had made a friendly connection.
But it was all a facade. Once the men got to a certain point on the beach they were ambushed by a group of 10 Auca warriors. They drove 8 foot long spears into the hearts of each of the missionaries. All five died that day on the beaches of Ecuador.
Elizabeth Elliot, Jim's wife, did what I don't think I could ever fathom to do. She went to Ecuador to finish Jim's work. After hearing about Jim's death, remorseful and heartbroken, she began to pray "God, if you want me to go to the Auca Indians I will" (not expecting God to answer that prayer). But He did.
Two years after Jim had been killed, Elizabeth and her three year old daughter Valerie embarked on their journey to the Auca Indians. Once there they began to do the same strategy that Jim had done to made contact. After a few weeks the tribe invited her in. She lived under a thatched roof for a year trying to learn and decipher the Auca language. After a year she felt comfortable enough to ask to tribe leader for an interview.
The tribe leader, a 40 year old man, tallest in the group, sat under the thatched roof Elizabeth had been living in for the past year, and began to talk. Elizabeth asked about the tribe's culture and history, and other questions of the sort. But after a while she asked if he could recall the events that occurred on January 8th, 1956.
He began to tell her about 5 white men that landed their plane on their beach. They were meet by the women and children, but then him and 9 other warriors attacked these men with their spears killing all 5 of them.
At this moment Elizabeth realized she was sitting face to face with the man that killed her husband.
There was a pause, then the tribe leader said:
"I have killed twelve men with the spear I hold in my hand. But I did that when my heart was black. Now Jesus' blood has washed my heart clean, so I don't like that anymore."
Elizabeth Elliot knew something that most of us forget. God is in control. And because God is in control, it frees us to do and go places no one else wants to go for the name of Jesus. People told Elizabeth that she was crazy to go to the Auca Indians, but she knew that them hearing the name and story of Jesus was worth the danger.
What if the people of God lived fearlessly? Not worrying about our safety or comfort. You know what would happen?
Change would happen.
Healing would happen.
Salvation would happen.
Let's live fearlessly.