January 8, 1956: Five Missionaries Martyred

Today is the anniversary of Jim Elliot’s martyrdom: January 8, 1956. Jim along with Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian were committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and the propagation of the gospel among the unreached Auca Indians, more properly referred to as the Huaorani, in Ecuador. On this date all five men were martyred, leaving behind wives and families. As tragic as this was, in the wake of these deaths and in the providence of God, many were drawn/called to missions. It is a true yet often unexplainable way God works. Like Jesus, the Master, the gospel advances through death – certainly spiritual and at times physical.

All of these men played an important role in this ministry. Jim appeared to have a more prominent role, not because of importance but because of his pen through which he was able to write simple yet profound truths. Those statements came to light through Elisabeth Elliot, Jim’s wife, who wrote two books in particular that the Lord used, and continues to use: Through Gates of Splendor and Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot. Many of us have been touched and moved by those statements. For Jim these were words that bore witness in his life. For those of us who are moved by those words he uttered, it is easy for those words to remain great quotes without it being reflective of our lives. This reminds us that truth must not remain vicarious, i.e. truth for someone else, but it must be personally appropriated.

The Lord used these books, these incredible accounts of living all of life to the glory of God with heart, soul mind and strength, significantly in my life many years ago as a young believer seeking to take the Lord Jesus Christ’s commands for discipleship seriously. He still uses them today. What about you?

Were you living at the time, or shortly after this happened?

  • If so, do you remember this event, and what of it do you remember?
  • How did the Lord use it in your life, or does He, perhaps, still use it in your life?

Were you not living at the time or too young to remember, but have read these accounts?

  • How has the story of how the Lord used these men and their wives (and families) influenced/affected you?
  • What difference has that made in your life?

Are you unaware of these martyrs and have you not read these accounts?

  • I encourage you to do so!
  • Be prepared to be moved, and pray to be open to learn from the ongoing “cloud of witnesses.”

May this serve as another reminder to all of us to live all of life by God’s grace and for His glory, and then may we be willing to go and serve likewise.

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