A Fresh Look at the 5 Missionary Martyrs in Ecuador

The Gospel Coalition | 5/20/2019 | Staff
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Speared to death.

The phrase has been written so many times it’s almost lost its meaning.

Missionaries - Death - Members - People - Group

Five American missionaries, speared to death by members of an Amazonian people group. The widow and the bereaved sister who forgave the killers and lived with them in order to share the story of Jesus.

American evangelicals tell this story again and again—on radio and in magazines, at concerts and conferences, in books and movies. Sometimes we flesh it out, sharing details from that week in January 1956 when the five men died, or from Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint’s early life with the tribe. More often we mention it in passing, a reminder of why we’re talking about Elisabeth Elliot in the first place or the lead-in to an update on the Saint family’s ongoing relationship with the Waorani.

Story - Years - Counting

We’ve been telling the story for 63 years and counting, after all. We know what happened.

But in God in the Rainforest: A Tale of Martyrdom and Redemption in Amazonian Ecuador, historian Kathryn T. Long suggests we may not know as much as we think.

Details - Story - Space - Details - Account

We never know all the details when we report on a true story, but even those we do know often can’t fit in the space allotted to our telling. We have to pick and choose which details to weave into the account, and which to lay aside. This process of selection, whether we’re aware of it or not, shapes what we believe to be history.

Long gathers up the available threads of America’s most-told missionary story. She re-examines the familiar portion of events, filling in historical and cultural context around the 1956 attempt to contact the Waorani. Then she goes on to trace the story as it continues to the present.

Messy - Rainforests - Ecuador

Disciple-making appears to be slow, uncertain, and messy in the rainforests of Ecuador, just as it...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Gospel Coalition
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