Sunday, 11 June 2017

Jim and Elizabeth Elliot


Missionary and Martyr to Ecuador


What unbelievable inspiration I've been fed with this week as I've looked at the lives of this very special couple who committed themselves to serving God by seeking to reach out an unreached tribe of Ecuador. I've wept, I've laughed, I've soul searched and prayed, and more than anything I have been stilled with awe at God's grace and the wisdom of His plan. 

Much loved and highly academic, Jim Elliot arrived in Ecuador in 1952, aged 24 with linguistic skills taught by a former missionary to the Quechua people. His aim, along with a team of 4 other bright missionaries (and their wives) of his own age, was to continue evangelising amongst the Quechua people, and in 1953 he married the woman he had agonised in prayer over for 5 years, fellow missionary Elisabeth. Between them, they translated the New Testament into the Quechua language.

In 1955, Valerie was born in the Ecuador jungle......

But family life didn't stop the next step of the mission. Their growing desire was to reach out to a tribe that was notorious for it's barbarism. Any outsiders that entered their territory were never seen again. This tribe was called the Aucas, the Quechua word for savage. They lived and died by the spear, killing many of the Quechus tribes folk, and causing the closure of an oil drilling company through killing several of the workers. They had no justice structure, and 6 in 10 amongst the tribe itself were killed from their own people by spear.

After being in Ecuador now for four years, they had been praying for an opportunity, and for God's leading to make contact with the Aucas, wanting to reach them with the Light if the Gospel. The Lord made a way, but it was not to come cheap. After spotting some Auca houses when out flying in their plane, a plan was made by the five brothers in Christ to fly over the Auca village and lower gifts from the plane to show friendship and peace. This went on for 13 weeks, with the gifts being received, and the Aucas in return fastening a baskets of their offerings to the rope dangling from the yellow plane. There was a small stretch of sandy beach near the savage tribes village, and the men were able to land there one day, and made contact in person.

The exchange was friendly, confidence increased, and as the men returned back home that night in their plane and return trips were being planned. After one particular trip, however, the men were not to come back. After no radio contact for a night and a morning, alerts were sent out from the wives and news soon hit America; broadcasts were swiftly on air with calls for prayer over these five missing men who had entered savage territory. Searches were made, and the men were found floating in the river after being speared to death. The Aucas had been led to believe by one of their fellows that the 'Foreigners' were going to kill them.

The wives and their children decided to stay to continue the work

Valerie was just 10 months old



Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Matthew 5:43-48

They continued to live and work among the Quechua's, when one day, by God's incredible working, two women from the Auca tribe came to live with Elisabeth. They learned the ways of God, and Elisabeth was able to start learning the Auca language. These two ladies were to provide a link to the Aucas, and by God's grace Elisabeth was invited to live amongst the very tribe that had killed her husband just 2 years before. In 1958, along with Rachel Saint, Elisabeth and 3 year old Valerie moved into a traditional house with the Aucas. 

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
Revelation 5:9

After just 2 years, the homicide rate decreased by 90% as the tribe were taught that there is a trail that leads to life, with an eternal home at the end, but those who would walk on it cannot murder. This destructive people confessed that had the missionaries not arrived, they would have killed each other off. Now they remain as a jungle tribe, but no longer living in darkness. The very men who killed the five young Christian men grew to be elders of faith in Jesus; hard men became tender, and learned the ways of peace. The village was won over to Christ, a people group taken from the clutches of satan and into the everlasting arms. 

To watch a documentary about this whole story, please see Beyond the Gates of Splendour

Elisabeth went on beyond Jungle life and returned to America where she had a very full life writing over twenty books, and hosting a daily radio programme called Gateway to Joy for twelve years, that can still be heard on demand on....the Bible Broadcasting Website.  A woman of the Word and prayer, she learned great wisdom and trust as she stayed stedfast in her commitment to bring the love of God and the message of hope to those in darkness.  
She gave her life to encouraging others of the faithfulness of God, One who can be trusted in the midst of seeming chaos, Who is worth both living and dying for. 

I hope you have been blessed by this very brief introduction to these remarkable people, and I pray that you will be tempted to pick up one or two of her books, and perhaps listen to some of her many messages available of youtube. Though she went to be with the Lord in 2015, she still has plenty to say to you that will strengthen your faith and help you to keep your eyes on Jesus.

Monday, 5 June 2017

James Renwick, a Covenanter

A few years ago, I was blessed to receive a packet of blessings in the post from my dear sister in Christ. In it was a booklet called "Covenanters Call Back", a glimpse into the lives of the saints who died for their faith in Christ, in Scotland during the 17th century, 

Here is a tiny taster of the book, and a solemn reminder of the price that was paid by the courageous ones who were not ashamed to call Christ their own in a less comfortable and "tolerant" era.

David Hackston
From Rathillet in the parish of Kilmany in Fife, came David Hackston, a stranger to grace and to God, until in his youth he went up into the hills to hear the homeless, wandering preachers tell forth the good news of the blessed gospel.
Not long after, he experienced forgiveness through the Blood of His cross and took his place among the persecuted people of God.

James Renwick

Although poor, his parents succeeded in providing him with an education, both at school and at university in Edinburgh. 
Chosen to go abroad to study for the ministry, his life made a great impression on those who knew him, and after ordination, he went back to the homeland he loved.
Never strong in body, he laboured incessantly in the work of his Master.
His life was constantly in danger, with government troops pursuing him all over southern Scotland, forcing him to hide in caves, huts and wherever he could find shelter.
On 17th February, 1688 at 26 years of age, this trustworthy and true servant of Christ sealed his testimony and his ministry with his blood. He was among the Christians executed publicly for their faith, and the struggle for religious freedom.

There are many short accounts in this little booklet by M McBride, if anyone is interested, please leave a comment and I will give the address where a copy can be requested.

I was very interested in these individuals as I read the brief accounts in this great little booklet, so I looked further into this faithful characters. 

James was born in 1662 in Dumfriesshire, and went on to religious studies at the University of Edinburgh. Aged 21 he witnessed the martyr of several Covenanters, including that of Donald Cargill, who was a Minister to the Covenanters movement. Leaving a huge impression on young James, he joined the society and traveled to the Netherlands with four others to further study the scriptures and receive his ordination. 

Aged 23, he was back in Scotland preaching his first sermon, and spent the next five years travelling and ministering in his native land, trying not to get caught. The persecution grew worse and worse, with many Covenanters being executed, both young and old between 1685 and 1688. This time is know as the Killing Times. 

Renwick kept on preaching but was finally caught in January 1688. When the captain of the troops that caught him saw how young he was, he said “What! Is this the boy Renwick that the nation has been so much troubled with?” On the day of his execution, some people tried to get Renwick to pray for the king. But he replied, “I am within a little while to appear before Him who is King of kings, and Lord of lords, who shall pour shame, contempt, and confusion upon all the kings of the earth who have not ruled for him”. 

His last words were, “Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit, for thou hast redeemed me, Lord God of truth.” He was then hanged in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh – the last Covenanter martyr to be publicly executed. The date was 17 February 1688 – 3 days after his twenty-sixth birthday.

Grass Market today, with memorial stone marking the gallows where over 100 Covenanters resisted not death by public hanging.