Saturday, January 22, 2011

Light Trumps Darkness

"There's always going to be bad stuff out there. But here's the amazing thing -- light trumps darkness, every time. You stick a candle into the dark, but you can't stick the dark into the light." -Jodi Picoult

My world has recently been expanded to include the famous story of Nate Saint, and his four companions who were slaughtered by the Waodani (also called Huaorani or Auca) people of Ecuador. And I was shocked by how dedicated they were…to go to the people who knew only killing and being killed; to be that totally given to a mission that they’d go through with it, no matter the personal cost; to not fight back or fire their guns when they saw the warriors charging with their spears.

They let go of their personal comforts that they could have had at home and moved to the untamed, foreign land of Ecuador.

They let go of their reservations in reaching an untamed, barbaric tribe and initiated contact.

They let go of their own natural instincts of safety and self-preservation and put themselves in a very dangerous place.

Somehow, without knowing the natives personally, they loved them enough to let go and reach out.

And as if that isn’t amazing enough, I was struck with another thought. My mind flashed to the wives of these five men. They loved their husbands to the point that they would share their mission. They would leave their extended families at home and struggle to take care of their immediate families in this unforgiving alien country. They hugged and kissed their men goodbye on that fateful morning, praying that this meeting with the natives would go as well as the previous, but still knowing that anything was possible. And, when days went by and their men didn’t return, they could only assume the worst. Somehow, by some divine assistance, those new widows found forgiveness in their hearts for their husbands’ killers, enough to go visit and even live among them.

They loved their husbands enough to let them leave on the ill-fated trip, loved the natives enough to forgive, and loved their God enough to get through the whole mess.

As it is so clearly evidenced, love is not safe. In a world obsessed with personal safety, this story could be more proof not to put yourself out there; an “I told you so” to every person warned of the danger of love. I see danger in elaborate home protection systems, and numerous insurance plans. I’m not talking about being dumb with our material things; keep honest people honest. But the extent to which we go, making sure that we can’t be touched, should be called into question. The same goes for heart matters – get to know the cashiers at your local grocery store, get involved in the community, give time and energy even when you don’t feel like it. Be yourself, even when you face the fear of rejection. Love wholeheartedly and unconditionally, even when you know it might never be returned. Our hearts, time, and money are not our own.

We know that Operation Auca and the missionaries’ sacrifices were not in vain. The killing of the men, followed by the forgiveness of the woman, allowed the Waodani people to accept God (or Waengongi) into their lives, and the revenge killings between tribes reduced by 90%. In the well-known words of Jim Elliot (one of the five men killed), “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

What differences can I make if I open my heart to the people around me and leave my safety in the hands of God?

~~~I have only watched the movie “The End of the Spear”. If any of my readers own books pertaining to the Palm Beach massacre, or the missionaries’ lives before or after, I would love to borrow them.~~~


  1. All I can say is, I want to live and love more like Jesus.

  2. Recently I've been thinking about how cost effective I am in loving. I find myself wanting equal or more return for what I give instead of risking and being as generous as Jesus is.
    Reading E. Elliot's books in school and out of high school was hugely formative for me. Jim and Elizabeth are my heroes. Sorry I can't loan you my books! ~Anita