In the late 1950’s or early 1960’s I read an article in either Post or Life Magazine about the Auca Indians of Ecuador. I was deeply touched by the article because even at that age I was aware of a calling on my heart and life to do God’s work.
The actual story begins in 1955 when five missionaries spent several months trying to make contact with this Indian tribe that others in Ecuador considered “very savage.” They dropped gifts from the missionary plane and actually received gifts in return. By early 1956 they made physical contact and spent several days exchanging gifts and filming the natives. And then suddenly home base lost all contact.
When another plane was sent out it was discovered that all five of them had been killed. The most poignant part of the article was that a few years later two women: one a widow to one of the men and one a sister to one of the men, went back and finally made contact and lived with the tribe. How much love and courage that must have taken! They must have had such a burden on their hearts for the souls of these people that they moved beyond their own loss and let the love of God work through them. Many of the men who participated in the killings were converted to Christianity.
Why am I telling you all this today? Two days ago I watched the documentary Through Gates of Splendor about this event. This story has stayed with me through 53 years of my life. A picture from that magazine article has stayed with me all these years as the bittersweet end of the story. And that picture just as I remembered it was the last shot in the documentary. The picture’s of a tall, bronzed, practically naked warrior holding the hand of a tiny blond child, Valerie Elliot, whose father this man had killed.
What love for Christ and His kingdom these women showed.