This happened on January 8th. I missed it but when I realized I wanted to post it anyways. We need to be reminded when God's people give their life in His service.
*The five men on "Palm
Beach," a strip of sand on the Curaray River, Ecuador, knew that there was
danger. But they took the risk for a chance to make friendly contact with the
Huaorani (Auca) Indians. Missionaries Ed McCulley, Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Pete
Fleming, and Roger Youderian, had landed on the makeshift airstrip in their
"modern missionary mule" (a Piper Cruiser).
Back at Shell Mera,on this
day January 8, 1956, Marj Saint waited for word. The short wave radio crackled.
Marj listened as her husband, Nate, told her that "a commission of
ten" was on its way from Terminal City. "Looks like they'll be here
for the early afternoon service. Pray for us. This is the day! We'll contact
you next at four-thirty."
Excitement was intense.
Months of efforts were about to bear fruit! The "commission" was a
group of Huaorani men. Terminal City was the code name the missionaries had
given to a Huaorani village they had spotted from the air. If Nate spoke in
code words, it was because he did not want Ecuadorians with guns pre-empting
the mission's friendly overtures to the natives. The Huaorani were sturdy
forest dwellers who had fiercely resisted all efforts to subdue them, killing
many people who ventured into their territory.
Nate had first spotted one
of their villages from the air on September 19, 1955.
On October 1st,
missionaries developed a plan for making contact, when bad weather kept Johnny
Keenan from flying Ed back to his home station at Arunjo. Ed, Nate and others
gathered at Shell Mera and talked into the wee hours of the morning, huddled
over maps. How could they demonstrate that they came in peace and not in
What they decided to do was
fly over the villages and lower gifts to the people. Using a public address
system, they repeated friendly phrases that Jim had collected from an Huaorani
woman on a nearby hacienda. "Biti miti punimupa: I like you; I want to be
your friend." Soon large numbers of Aucas were converging for the gift
drops. Finally the day came when the villagers tied a gift to the line in
return--a feathered headdress.
Next, a landing spot had to
be found. They chose a playa (sand bar) on the Curaray River. Nate ran
simulated landings, touching his wheels to the sand to test its firmness. It
seemed okay. Finally on January 3rd, Nate and Ed landed. The sand proved softer
than hoped, but by letting air out of the tires, a safe landing and takeoff was
possible. Nate ferried the other men and supplies to the camp. They erected a
prefab tree house and shouted friendly words into the bush. Four days later a
Huaorani man and two women appeared. Now, on this day, January 8th, 1956,
several Auca were headed to "Palm Beach."
Four thirty rolled around,
time for the planned radio contact. Eagerly Marj switched on her radio back at
base. Nothing! Had the men been invited to the Huaorani houses? She waited.
There was no sound. The minutes passed, and lengthened into hours. Silence.
Johnny Keenan flew over Palm
Beach on Monday morning. He reported to Marj that he had spotted Nate's plane,
stripped of its fabric. On Wednesday he saw the first of the bodies from the
air. Then another. Soon it was evident all five men were dead. A ground force
moved in to bury the men. Ed's body had washed away.
A shipwrecked sailor
recalled Jim Elliot's words: "When it comes time to die, make sure that
all you have to do is die." The five men on the beach had been ready to
die and their deaths were not in vain. Through the efforts of the widows, the
Huaorani discovered Christian forgiveness. The day came when they explained
that they had killed the five out of fear, thinking they were cannibals. The
same Huaorani who killed the men became believers in Christ.
Ellliot, Elisabeth. Through
Gates of Splendor. New York: Harper and Row, 1958.
Hitt, Russell T. Jungle
Pilot. Discovery House, 1997.
Various internet articles.