Love at Palm Beach
Speaker: M.Noorhoff

Matthew 5:38-48

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'  But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

How would you feel? What would you do if your father, your brother, your husband, your son had been killed without provocation, killed simply because someone needed to be killed, they were outnumbered  but it wouldnft have mattered they were ready for death and did not fight back but instead reached out to their killers in love. As there love flowed so did their blood just as Jesusf blood flowed for all of us as he cried out to us in love. Today we will recall such a story. Perhaps many of you already know it. If you do you will not mind hearing it again, if you havenft heard it, it will inspire you and humble you. This is a story of Gods love and a story of Christians who carry this love without regard to his own life. It was a suicide mission but so was Christfs It was a mission of love. It was a story that shocked and inspired a generation. I hope it will also inspire this generation and all of you.

 Most stories have a beginning and an end, but the story of the Woarani is still flowing. It didn't end even when the 5 Hero missionaries were slain by spear-throwing natives while daring to contact one of the world's most violent and isolated tribes along a jungle river in Ecuador.

 The five deaths - 50 years ago this month - got international attention and inspired generations of evangelical missionaries.

And now, "End of the Spear," a feature-length movie based on their story, is scheduled for release in the United States Jan. 20 in 1,200 theaters. It comes on the heels of "Beyond the Gates of Splendor," a documentary on the story that was released on DVD this past fall. The original story told in the book through the gates of splendor the video based upon this is in the church library.

 What makes the story more compelling is that a widow and a sister of the missionaries daringly went to the tribal settlement nearly three years after the slayings, converted the killers to Christianity, and largely stopped a centuries-old cycle of revenge slayings.

 Other widows and their children have since visited the group. Video and photographs of broadly smiling tribesmen with their victims' family members present riveting images of friendship and forgiveness.

"I think it's fair to say that this story of the five men was probably the defining missionary martyr story for American evangelicalism in the second half of the 20th century,"

 Aided by a dramatic search for the missing men and a spread in Life magazine, the missionaries drew broad public attention because they were young, bright, good looking and deeply spiritual, and they died at a time when Americans were seeking heroes, she said.

 The Martyrs of the story are;

  Jim Elliot was from Portland, Oregon. At Wheaton College he was president of the Student Foreign Missions Fellowship. A perceptive thinker and writer, he wrote in college: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." He was married to Elisabeth Howard, from a prominent Christian publishing family in Philadelphia. The Elliots had an infant daughter.

  Pete Fleming was from Seattle, and at twenty-seven was a year younger than his friend Jim Elliot. Pete had recently received his M.A. in literature. He was married to his childhood sweetheart, Olive, and they had three young children.

  Ed McCully, the oldest son of a Milwaukee bakery executive, attended Wheaton and starred on the football team. He had won the National Hearst Oratorical Contest in San Francisco in 1949 and studied at Marquette University Law School. He and his wife, Marilou, had an eight month-old son.

  Roger Youderian was raised on a Montana ranch. He attended Northwestern schools in Minneapolis where he met his wife, Barbara. They joined the Gospel Missionary Union and were working with Mr. and Mrs. Frank Drown among the head-hunting Tivaros when the Elliots, Flemings, and McCullys arrived.

  Nate Saint, the most animated of the lot, had been flying missionaries in and out of stations in the Ecuadorean jungle since 1948 for Missionary Aviation Fellowship. Builder, inventor, and skilled pilot, Nate had devised an alternate fuel system for single-engine planes and an ingenious method of lowering a bucket by using a spiraling line to the ground. "During the last war, we had to be willing to be expendable," he wrote. "A missionary constantly faces expendability." Nate was married to a nurse, Marj, whom he had met in the service. They had three children.

 The McCullys, who then had two sons, lived in a makeshift home on the Waodani side of the Arajuno River. The Quichuas they were working with refused to remain with them after 4 p.m. because of lingering memories of Waodani attacks, according to "Through the Gates of Splendor," a bestselling book by Elliot's widow, Elisabeth, that has become an evangelical classic. An electric fence 30 yards from the home, beyond accurate spear-throwing range, provided a warning system.

 The missionary families had long heard of the feared Waodani, then known as Aucas, a pejorative Quichua term meaning gnaked savages.h Anthropologists who studied the tribe called it the most violent group they had ever seen; six of every 10 Waodani adults died due to homicide. Neighboring tribes, as well as oil company workers in the region, feared the Waodani. The many stories of violence across the region included the fatal spearings of three Shell employees at Arajuno in 1942. The first known missionary to the Waodani, Jesuit Father Pedro Suarez, was slain with spears in 1667, Elisabeth Elliot wrote. Later, violent intrusions by rubber traders and others heightened the tribe's distrust of outsiders, especially whites.

 But the missionaries felt a strong call to save souls, regardless of the physical dangers, according to the book, the missionaries' diaries and family members. Their excitement surged when Nate Saint and another missionary spotted a Waodani settlement from the air about a 15-minute flight from the McCullys' outpost on Sept. 29, 1955.

In September of 1955, the men located a Waodani settlement from the air, and for three months regularly flew over the village in Nate Saintfs bush plane, using a loudspeaker to call out friendly greetings and lowering a bucket to deliver presents. Eventually the Waodani reciprocated by leaving gifts of their own in the bucket\a wooden headband, a parrot, carved combs, peanuts, and other trinkets\and the missionaries thought the time seemed right to make ground contact. Mindful of the Waodanifs reputation, they took precautions. They packed guns and arranged a schedule of radio contacts with their wives.

They landed on a sandbar in the Curaray River, a few miles from the Indian settlement, set up a camp, nicknamed it Palm Beach and waited for contact , Several days later, three Waodani\one man and two women\came out of the jungle and spent the day with the men, riding in the plane and sharing their food. There was no indication of what was to come.

The first contact, with a tribesman named Nenkiwi and two women on Jan. 6, went well. They even gave the exuberant tribesman a plane ride. But a raiding party returned on Jan. 8, a Sunday, and killed the missionaries.

 On Sunday, January 8, the appointed time for a radio contact with the missionary base came and went with no word. The wives at first held out hope that the radio had broken, but a search the next day found the plane and campsite had been torn apart. A ground party was quickly organized, including Ecuadorian soldiers, Quechuas, and other missionaries in the area. It was soon confirmed that all five missionaries had been speared to death at their camp. A bullet hole was found in the plane, but there were no fallen Waodani. The missionaries apparently had used their weapons only to fire warning shots.

There is a scene in the movie, Nate Saint is about to take off to approach the Waodani and is saying goodbye to his wife and son Steve.  Steve asks his father to promise to use his gun if they are in danger, Nate turns to his son and says gthe Waodani are not ready for Heaven son but we areh and with that said goodbye

Shortly after all five cuwoody (foreigner) had been killed and their bodies thrown in the river, the jungle night fell like a black velvet cloak. In the midst of the blackness, the sky suddenly became alive and alight with singing shining people. Angels? Perhaps so - ushering the five martyrs through the Gates of Pearly Splendour of which they had sung before takeoff for their secret mission? As suddenly as they had appeared, the heavenly host were lost to view but, **"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined."

 On Friday January 13, 1956, as the search party rounded the bend before Palm Beach, they saw Nate's stripped plane. Frank cried inwardly to the Lord for grace and strength. Knowing the Waorani used to throw their victims' belongings in the river, the missionaries searched the Curaray. They found Nate's and Roger's cameras, broken spears, aluminum sheeting torn from the mens's beach shelter and a shovel. This they used in turn to dig their friends' grave.

But that blood-soaked beach is not where the story ends. The families, though staggered, recovered quickly to carry on the work. Within two years, sensing that the tribe might eventually kill itself off if it did not change its ways, several more of the Waodani women left to seek help from gthe foreigners.h Jim Elliotfs widow, Elisabeth, and Nate Saintfs sister, Rachel, and the Waodani women, were able to take the message of the gospel to the entire tribe.

Elisabeth Elliot and Nate Saint's sister, Rachel Saint, made contact with the Waodani settlement near Palm Beach with assistance from three Waodani women who had left the group. The native women returned to the tribe, spoke of the foreign women's love and kindness, and returned with an invitation to live with the group. Elisabeth Elliot, her 4-year-old daughter and Rachel Saint arrived in the settlement on Oct. 8, 1958. Elliot lived there until 1961. Rachel Saint remained with the tribe, dying in the jungle in 1994.

 Gikita, the man who led the raiding party, told Yost that when the two missionary women first spoke of Christ, Gikita replied, "Ah, that's what we have been looking for."

"Gikita told me, 'We had been trying to figure out ways to stop the internal killing, to have a relationship with the outside world, because we saw goods and wanted access," said Yost, adding that revenge killings ended quickly.

 Miraculously, the brutal killings which had been integral to the tribe for generations, stopped almost immediately. And those who led the killing party that fateful day, three of whom are still living, became leaders of the Waodani church.

 Today, about 20% to 25% of the Waodani are Christians, and revenge killings are rare in their territory except for one group that continues to isolate itself, Yost and Saint said. Services are non-denominational and informal.

Nate Saintfs son, Steve, and Mincaye now travel around the world to tell of the tribefs transformation. Mincaye says he and his people have learned about gGodfs Carvingsh (the Bible) and how they now walk gHis trailh (Godfs way).

In the words od Dayuma the first Waodani to become Christian as she returned to her tribe and told them of Jesus

gJust as you killed these foreigners on the beach, Jesus was killed for you.h