When I first heard of the death of a young American while trying to share the gospel to one of the most isolated tribes in the world, I was intrigued, yet not surprised. Missionaries have been sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ for centuries, many meeting horrible fates. Despite that knowledge, I remain in awe of the courage these missionaries exhibit in following their calling despite uncertain futures.
John Allen Chau was only 27 when he took a ride with local fisherman to India’s North Sentinel Island, home to a tribe of hunter-gatherers, cut off from the outside world. He tried to reach the Sentinel island on November 14, but could not make it. Two days later he went better prepared, left his dingy midway and took a canoe alone to the island. Fishermen reported that Chau faced a “flurry of arrows” as soon as he stepped on the island. They tied a rope around his neck and drug his body. One source reported that before Chau was killed he wrote he was “doing this to establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island … do not blame the natives if I am killed.”
Now that’s the power of love!
Chau’s story reminds me of another young missionary. After years of training, Jim Elliot had no doubt God wanted him to share the gospel to the Auca Indians in Ecuador. Finally, Jim, other missionaries, and their pilot, Nate Saint, had their chance in 1956. After landing on a beach close to the jungle, they waited several days for the Aucas to return to the beach. As two women walked out of the jungle, Jim and Pete waded over to them. They then heard a terrifying cry behind them, turning to see a group of Auca warriors with their spears raised. Within seconds the Auca warriors killed all the missionaries. But don’t think this story ended there because it didn’t. In less than two years Elisabeth Elliot, her daughter Valerie, and Rachel Saint (Nate’s sister) were able to move to the Auca village, live amongst the tribe, and share the Gospel to the Aucas. Many became Christians. They are now a friendly tribe. Missionaries still live among the Aucas today. Jim Elliot once said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Here is a man who believed in and lived his faith. He exhibited the power of love.
As Martin Luther King said, the power of love can drive darkness and hatred away. In a world filled with so much division, bitterness and resentment, no matter where we are, we have a huge mission field just waiting for us to share the power of love to someone else!
What do you say?
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King