In 1956, 5 young men were killed in the jungle of Ecuador. It made headlines around the world. Jim, Roger, Peter, Ed and Nat had sought to befriend the Auca Indians with a view to sharing the gospel of God’s love through the Lord Jesus. The name Auca was a derogatory term meaning “naked savage” given to them by a neighboring tribe called the Quechuas with whom they historically warred.
What is amazing about their story which you can read about in a book called “Through Gates of Splendor” written by Jim Elliott’s widow, Elizabeth, was that some of the widows and Rachel, Nat’s sister, actually went back to live with the Auca people.
If my memory serves me correctly one of the widows baptised the man who speared her husband and Nat Saint’s two children were themselves baptised by Kimo and Dyuwi, members of the party that killed their father and his four mates. What an exciting transformation brought about by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It has been said that “forgiveness is the most therapeutic idea in all the world”. And it is, since it saves us, firstly from ourselves where bitterness can dominate and cripple; secondly from taking revenge against others; and thirdly from God’s judgement. Forgiveness is essential to our health now and to our eternity.
A film called “End of the Spear” was made in 2006 and was based upon a book written by Steve Saint, one of the children baptised by his dad’s killers.
Jesus spoke about forgiveness, modelled forgiveness in those memorable words from the cross – “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”, and made forgiveness possible for us through His death upon the cross.
And here is something for us to be thinking about. Do we practice forgiveness? Do we forgive like the Lord has forgiven us?
By the way, the Aucas are now known as Waodani (God followers), testimony to their transformation by the gospel.