(Photo courtesy of BBC.com)
Men with a Mission: Jim Elliot
By Selma Komisky
“There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better; resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons. We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn’t deserve them!—making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.”
– Hebrews 11:37-38
When I think of someone that was in the trenches for Christ, I recall American evangelical missionary Jim Elliot. In my opinion, he was a courageous godly soldier for the cross and reminded me of the young Stephen, who was an intense follower of God, a deacon (helper) and evangelist in the Bible found in Acts 7:54-60. It says Stephen was a man full of God’s spirit and faith who was 29 when he was killed. Elliot paralleled this first young martyr Stephen, since Elliot was also martyred (someone who suffers death rather than deny his religion, or anyone who sacrifices his life or something of great value for the sake of principle) on January 8, 1956 in Equador at the same age. Jim was the first to be speared and died along with four other brave missionaries: Ed McCully, Nate Saint, Roger Youderan and Pete Fleming.
One thing we can take away from Jim’s legacy is he was passionate about his calling in ministry. He was “ In it to win it, ” spiritually so to speak. He wanted to build a bridge with the fierce unreached Auca people in the jungle and extend to them the love of Christ. He went as far as to learn their language to communicate with them and chose to live in Auca territory for three years.
In parallel, Stephen in the New Testament spoke boldly, fervently and openly before the Sanhedren and rabbonic court. The people were indignant towards Stephen and stoned him in their wrath. But, He echoed words of Jesus from the cross on forgiveness for his attackers.
Likewise, the same words of forgiveness came from Jim’s wife toward the Auca (pronounced awqa) Indians – the very ones whom Jim desired to share the love and hope of Christ. His wife, Elizabeth, and the other men’s wives moved to Equador and continued to minister the word of God to the Aucas. Later, the leader and other Aucas that attacked Jim and the others on Palm Beach accepted Christ and became Christians.
When Stephen died, Saul of Tarsus was observing the stoning of Stephen and he became a believer and became Paul the apostle. In conjunction, the Enemy doesn’t want us to share this good news. Why? Because he knows that people will get saved, healed, and restored.
In closing, here are 4 important takeaways from Jim Elliot’s life and legacy:
1. What the Enemy Meant For Evil God Turns For Good.
“You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened.”
– Genesis 50:20 (GNT)
2. How Will They Know If We Don’t Tell Them?
“But how shall they ask him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”
– Romans 10:14 (TLB)
“Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.”
– Matthew 6:12 (GNT)
“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.”
– Matthew 6:15 (GNT)
[judging others] “Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others, and God will forgive you.”
– Luke 6:37 (GNT)
“The Lord says, “It was my will that he should suffer; his death was a sacrifice to bring forgiveness. And so he will see his descendants; he will live a long life, and through him my purpose will succeed.”
– Isaiah 53:10 (GNT)
“All of you, my fellow Israelites, are to know for sure that it is through Jesus that the message about forgiveness of sins is preached to you; you are to know that everyone who believes in him is set free from all the sins from which the Law of Moses could not set you free.”
– Acts 13:38-39 (GNT)
4. Live Out God’s Great Commission
“He told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.’”
– Matthew 28:16-20 (TLB)
If you want to learn more about Jim Elliot, watch the “Story of Beyond the Gates” YouTube video here at Marked Ministry!