This weekend my wife and I finally got out to see the movie End of the Spear.
With a 4 year old and a two year old it takes some planning and coordination for something as simple as movie going.
End of the Spear was primarility about the story of Nate and Steve Saint and missionary work with the Waodani
or Auca (Quechua for "savage") Indians of Ecuador in the 1960s. The Waodani were a tribe of fierce warriors known for their intense spearing of their enemies and their cycle of revenge killing over many years. The tribe was to the point where they were almost extinct due to the cycles of violence. Into this world stepped the Christian missionaries who would come to be known as the Ecuador Five
. Jim Elliot
, Ed McCully
, Roger Youderian
, Peter Fleming,
and their pilot Nate Saint
. The film presents the story of the spearing of the five missionaries from the vantage point of the Waodani, which was a welcomed approach. Through seeing the story through their eyes one is able to see the utter humanity of a people living in a stone age fashion. The Waodoni are human in every senses - in their hopes and loves as well as in sinful savagry of a people wracked in the midst of a culture of murder and revenge.
The providential convergences in the story are quite fascinating to see:
- A young Waodoni girl (Dayuma) runs away from home after a savage spearing of her people by a rival tribe. Dayuma winds up in the care of Western missionaries and grows up to help their cause. Her brother grows up to be a warrior and a leader set on revenge.
- Dayuma helps the missionaries (primarily Elliot) learn some Waodoni language and with this help they secretly locate and make contact with a Waodoni tribe. It just happens to be the tribe of theDayuma's brother.
- The five missionaries make contact with the tribe. It is friendly and looks to be heading in a good direction.
- One of the Waodoni lies to his people about the westerners due to his own involvement with another Waodoni girl. He tells his tribe that the foreigners killed and ate the flesh ofDayuma - this causes them to go into a rage and fall upon the five men spearing them to their deaths.
- What follows is quite remarkable. The wives of the fallen men, move in and live with the Waodoni, seeing many of them come to Christ at the witness and forgiveness of these families.
Though the film focuses primarily on the Saint family and the Waodoni, I have recently been reading quite a bit on Elliots life. It is quite a shock to many to see men give everything. Worldly possesions, life and limb, giving up family and loved ones only to see a self-destructing amazon tribe know the Jesus that saved their lives and loved their souls. Anthropologists will angle and debate whether contacting tribal people and preaching the gospel to them is "a good idea." Yet one must ask the question - has this not always been the way of Jesus. His gospel of the grace and forgiveness of God has spread to peoples far and wide. In its wake have followed literacy, health care, education, and souls brought to salvation and liberty from sin. Savage Europeans, Savage Africans, Savage Asians, Savage Americans, Savage Tribes of every tribe, tongue and language have seen a similar fate at the pierced feet of the king of kings. All sinners, all redeemed and changed. I am no naiive person to think all the activities of missionaries is carried out with peace, sensitivity, and kindness. Many atrocities have come by zealous people who have done terrible things. Yet I will still rejoice at the many who have come to faith through the missionary efforts of humble people, who did not consider their own lives of any value, only that others would know the Savior of the world and the gospel he commands us to preach.
Preach they did; they lost everything and gained everything. They gave their all, but did not loose a thing. Elliot is well known for a statement made as a very young man. He is no fool to give up that which he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose.
Much to learn from such souls - who endeavored to live life to show the surpassing value of the knowledge of God.
This week I write a short biography of Jim Elliot - I look forward to pulling my research together so others may see what a life can look like which is dedicated to the living God. Only one life - and it soon be past - only what is done for Christ shall last.
May such a song rise in this generation - to his the praise of a humble servant King, who rules not through swords, tanks or bombs. But through love and spiritual power to overcome evil with good.