Friday, January 20, 2006

Reflections of Elisabeth Elliot, Widow of Slain Missionary, Jim Elliot

“I think back to the five men themselves, remembering Pete’s agony of indecision as to whether he should join the others in the venture, Ed’s eagerness to go even though Marilou was eight months pregnant, his strong assurance that all would be well, Roj’s depression and deep sense of failure as a missionary, Nate’s extreme caution and determination, Jim’s nearly reckless exuberance.

“I think of the tensions that developed after the men died among those who had to try to ‘pick up the pieces’ of the work they had left behind. There was misunderstanding between some of the mission boards as to what part each was to play in continuing efforts to reach the Aucas.

“I think of how, when Rachel and I finally arrived in the Aucas’ jungle clearing, we found that what she and Dayuma had been using as the Auca language was not readily understood. Dayuma had forgotten a large part of it, and had unwittingly jumbled up Auca, Quinchua, a smattering of Spanish, and a little English intonation for good measure. Then gradually I saw, to my dismay, that Rachel’s approach to linguistic work, her interpretation of what the Indians did and said, and the resulting reports she sent out were often radically different from my own.

“I think of the Indians themselves—what bewilderment, what inconvenience, what disorientation, what uprooting, what actual diseases (polio, for example) they suffered because we missionaries got to them at last! The skeptic points with glee to such woeful facts and we dodge them nimbly, fearing any assessment of the work which may cast suspicion at least on the level of spirituality if not the validity of our faith.

“But we are sinners. And we are buffoons. I am reminded of an occasion in Bible school when I nearly laughed aloud in the middle of a prayer. Following a long session in which one student after another had confessed his sins, real and imaginary, our principal, L. E. Maxwell, stood up and boomed out, ‘O Lord, deliver us from our sad, sweet, stinking selves!’

“It is not the level of our spirituality that we can depend on. It is God and nothing less than God, for the work is God’s and the call is God’s and everything is summoned by Him and to His purposes, the whole scene, the whole mess, the whole package—our bravery and our cowardice, our love and our selfishness, our strengths and our weaknesses. The God who could take a murderer like Moses and an adulterer like David and a traitor like Peter and make of them strong servants of His is a God who can also redeem savage Indians, using as the instruments of His peace a conglomeration of sinners who sometimes look like heroes and sometimes like villains, for ‘we are not better than pots of earthenware to contain this treasure [the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ], and this proves that such transcendent power does not come from us, but is God’s alone.’ (II Cor. 4:7, NEB)

“We are not always sure where the horizon is. We would not know ‘which end is up’ were it not for the shimmering pathway of light falling on the white sea. The One who laid earth’s foundations and settled its dimensions knows where the lines are drawn. He gives all the light we need for trust and for obedience.”
Today, as a bright light, Waodani missionary, Mincaye (Steve Saint’s adopted father) is an encouragement to me. He preaches to all that Itota, the Son of Waengongi, is able to cleanse the vilest heart of wenae cae.


HT: Sharper Iron. Read the rest of the article on the five missionaries to the Auca Indians. Excellent article.

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