Back in 2005 there was a semi-popular movie (in some circles) called End of the Spear. It was based on a true story of five missionary families going into the Waodoni tribe in Ecuador to share the good news of Jesus with them. Up until this point, the tribe was unreached (meaning no one had ever told them about the gospel). The movie tells of this story, and then expands on what happens after the men of those families were speared to death by some of the tribesmen. It's an incredibly powerful story of redemption and forgiveness.
One of the men was named Jim Elliot, and I think he's typically the most known of all the men because he was a writer. Over the years, it seems like if you wrote journals and books, people remember you better than those who were not writers. Anyway, I also want to include Elisabeth Elliot in this post because I think we too often forget that while the men were heroic and gave their lives in this mission, so did the women and children who were courageous and spent many years of their life working with the Waodoni tribe, sharing about Jesus and offering forgiveness to the men who killed their husbands/fathers. I think they are no less heroic for their actions, yet not a lot of books are written about them.
But, for some primers, here are some resources that you don't want to miss:
Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot (book). Elisabeth Elliot (his wife at the time) wrote this book about Jim's life. It's also very good and gives a great look at him and the experience they went through. It includes pieces of letters written between the two. Some parts of it remind me of Jake and I's love story. :)
For preschoolers and childrenThe Jim Elliot Story (video + activities). This DVD (Vision Video- which has a great collection of Christian videos) is one of the many in the Torchlighters Heroes of the Faith series . This animated video (30 minutes) is aimed at children between 8 and 12, and it tells the story of the men and the Waodoni tribe with Jim being the main character. Asante (age 4) liked the movie. He had a lot of questions afterwards (and I explained some of the parts as we watched), but he was greatly impacted by it. The DVD also comes with a study guide and some extras (an EXCELLENT interview with Steve Saint, son of the martyred Nate Saint), as well as a couple other things. This movie doesn't sugarcoat the story, which I appreciate.
Glimpses for Kids- online overview of Jim Elliot.
The Saints (Nate and his wife Marj, son Steve, and sister Rachel)
Nate Saint was a missionary pilot who played a pivotal role in finding the Waodoni tribe. His story is another one that has been told almost as much as Jim's. His son, Steve, still works with the tribe today.
Heroes for Young Readers: Nate Saint (book). This book is for kids and tells a little of Nate's life before going to Ecuador and then the story with him being the main character. It's written in poetry (abcb), but it's a story. What I like about this book is that it sheds some more light on why the men were killed- because of some lies told by a couple of the Waodoni young people that made the foreigners look dangerous. This book is published by YWAM. They also put out an activity guide that goes along with three other books. The activity guide (and cd) focuses on character education and includes some great activities (related both to the story and the country in which the story takes place), music, and coloring pictures. I just got this in the mail and I'm really excited to take the kids through some of the activities. I plan on posting more about it later this weekend.
The End of the Spear (movie). It's well-done and does a good job of telling the story in a compelling way. I remember sitting in the theater and crying my eyes out afterwards because I so admired the courage and obedience of these families. They heard God, they went, they gave their lives, and people came to know the Lord because of their willingness to obey, even though things weren't easy and everything didn't work itself out perfectly.
Jungle Pilot (book). Biography of Nate Saint.
What blows me away is that these families decided to go to Ecuador because God had placed a calling on their lives to go tell people about Jesus who had never heard. They went, not because they loved adventure or needed a thrill, but because they were deeply committed to obeying God no matter what He called them to, and they loved people so much that they would give their own lives in order to tell them about Jesus. These families knew the danger, but had courage to obey. And they did so with joy. There aren't many people today who would risk it all, especially having young children like these families did (mostly under the age of 5, I think). In fact, many of us are nervous to move out of the suburbs with young children in fear of not giving our kids every opportunity we can to help them to be well-rounded individuals.
After the men died, the women didn't catch the next plane home, but several stayed (with their toddlers/preschoolers!) and continued to pursue the Waodoni because that's what God had called them to do in the first place. Just because the men had died didn't mean God was asking the women to abandon the mission. God used those courageous and strong women to bring a tribe of families to the Lord. Can you imagine?
So let's tell our kids about this story.... helping them to see that sharing the gospel isn't always safe. Sometimes God calls us to do dangerous things. A few of us will end up physically giving up our lives. But all of us are called to give up our lives on other levels if we choose to follow Jesus.
He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot
Thank you to YWAM for their generosity in sending me books and the activity guide about Nate Saint in exchange for a review!
Also, thanks to Vision Video and Christian History Institutefor sending me the movie about Jim Elliot! Who knew that these two great companies had such great resources for young children.