I came to know God as a young teenager through the pages of missionary biographies: Corrie ten Boom, Brother Andrew, David Wilkinson, Jackie Pullinger, Amy Carmichael, Joni Eareckson Tada, Jim Elliot et al.
In those days RE lessons were scripture based: a story, a picture and some questions to be answered, in full sentences, with all the correct spelling punctuation and grammar. This did not inspire me but I was hungry to read and my dear old RE teacher, who taught in a tumble down ex-science lab, left copies of tracts and Christian paperbacks lying out on the benches at the sides of the room (I think this is now against the law!). We were free to borrow these and I devoured them. I fed myself on tales of courage and devotion, eagerly reading these stories of ordinary men and women with extraordinary calling on their lives. I followed them on their journeys to far off lands, their kindness and generosity to the poor felt like kindnesses to me. I loved the miracles, the healings and the answered prayers. I began to believe as I read. I loved that they found faith in the smallest victories and in the dark dark times too. I had not known that God could speak to men and women in visions and dreams or in plain ordinary ways to bring them hope or show them something that was true and good.
I keep a shelf now, of missionary tales, and encourage my children to read . The story of Jim Elliot remains one of our favourites.
Wherever your missional theology lies, you can not fail to be inspired by the single minded love of God that compelled the 25 year old Elliot to leave the comforts of home, church and family on a mission to reach one of the most impenetrable groups of tribal people in the jungles of South America. Missionary history will never forget the story of Elliot and his team, savagely killed by a remote tribe of Ecuadorian Indians as they attempted to reach out to them with the love of God.
If you haven’t read the story (and even if you have) I am offering a free give away on the blog today. This is a copy of, Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates of Splendour, the story of the mission based on memories, journals and letters. The copy is secondhand but in excellent condition. All you have to do to be entered into the draw to win is to let me know you have read this blog post. You can do this by liking the post on Facebook, liking the post on the blog, messaging me privately or simply telling me when you see me.
Finally I would like to share this video. In it Elisabeth Eliott and the other widows recall their reactions to the terrible events and how they grew to reconcile what had happened with their belief in a loving God who had good purposes and plans for their lives
You may also be interested in this copy of the ten page feature, ‘Go ye and preach the gospel. Five do and die’ from a January 1956 Life magazine.