Jim Elliot (1927-1956)
Success for a missionary is not taking the Gospel to new lands and establishing the Christian church there. That is what God does, and He does it in His way and in His timing. Success for a missionary, as for any Christian, is being obedient to God's will.
Jim Elliot always wanted to be a missionary. He grew up in a family which read the Bible daily and lived a Christian lifestyle. He went to college with his focus on those activities which would help him to be a missionary.
After he graduated, Elliot had the opportunity to go to Equador to work amongst the Quichuas peoples and he went there in 1952 with Peter Fleming. For more than three years they worked amongst the people establishing a missionary post and an airstrip. Of course they had the task of understanding the language of the Quichua people as well. Jim Elliot married to Elisabeth Howard in 1953.
In 1955 they began their attempts to get to know the mysterious Auca tribe. They decided to drop gifts to the Auca tribe from Nate Saint's aeroplane. Eventually they agreed that the time was right for them to go into Auca territory. They flew in and established a base. They made initial contact with some members of the tribe and contacted the missionary post by radio to tell them that things were going well. That was the last time that contact was made.
The five men were Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, Roger Youderin and Peter Fleming. Their bodies were recovered and their equipment and personal property was brought back.
To many people it would seem that Jim Elliot's dream and the aspirations of the other men had ended in failure. But they had done what was expected of them and it was now time for God to continue with His plan. Amongst the personal possessions was a camera and amongst the pictures taken were some of the Auca Indians who had initially made contact with the missionaries. The people in the photographs were recognized by an exiled Auca woman who had helped the missionaries learn the language. They were relatives that she thought were dead!
She made contact with them and before long Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint (Nate's sister) were living amongst the tribe. They established a church and many of the Aucas became Christians. Elisabeth returned home to America after several years but Rachel stayed with the Aucas for many years.
The story of Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, Roger Youderin and Peter Fleming has become one of the great missionary tales throughout the world. Many, many people have been inspired by these men. They have also been inspired by the the wives, and sister, of these men. Marilou McCully set up a school for missionary children in Quito. Barbara Youderin went to work with another tribe. Elisabeth Elliot has produced many books, including an excellent on the Christian principles on raising children.
The deaths of these men, a personal tragedy for their families, has become a world-wide testimony of faith in Christ and dedication to the work of God, which is much, much bigger than the conversion of a jungle tribe to Christianity.