We think of martyrs who lived a very long time ago, who may have been skinned alive or marched off to be beheaded.
Not too long ago, there were two young girls who went to the same high school. It was a very typical April day.
Later, they were each confronted by the teen gunman. He pointed the gun to one of the girl's heads and shot her point blank and had asked if she believed in God. But he probably knew she did. Many of the students there did believe in God. He went to the other girl and asked her if she believed in God, when she said, "Yes". He shot her, but she lived, and he later died.
- Columbine High school 1999
We can never forget those who have lost their lives so courageously.
Nor can we ever forget the twenty one Coptic Christian farmers who were marched out the day of their execution. There were twenty and one Ghanian, but he later converted to Christianity and said, "Their God, is my God".
All twenty one were lined up side by side kneeling in their orange jumpsuits. Each Christian had his own executioner standing directly behind him. The ISIS executioners were clad in black with their heads completely covered. They stood ready to execute holding their dull butcher knives ready to execute with the deadliest pain possible. Each humble Christian man whispered just before his death, "Lord, Jesus Christ". And it is said, Christ looked compassionately into each humble man's eyes just before their death. - Libya Massacre 2015
We will witness the brave and very heroic souls who died for Christ; Christ, our first martyr, who died for us.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
American Clergyman and Civil Rights Activist
(1929 [assassinated] 1968)
Jim Elliot - 1956
Philip James Elliot (October 8, 1927 – January 8, 1956) was an evangelical Christian who was one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador.
Elliot and Fleming arrived in Ecuador on February 21, 1952, with the purpose of evangelizing Ecuador's Quechua Indians.
They first stayed in Quito, and then moved to the jungle. They took up residence at the Shandia mission station. On October 8, 1953, he married fellow Wheaton alumna and missionary Elisabeth Howard. The wedding was a simple civil ceremony held in Quito. Ed and Marilou McCully were the witnesses. The couple then took a brief honeymoon to Panama and Costa Rica, then returned to Ecuador. Their only child, Valerie, was born February 27, 1955. While working with Quechua Indians, Elliot began preparing to reach the Huaorani.
Elliot and four other missionaries – Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, and their pilot, Nate Saint – made contact from their Piper PA-14 airplane with the Huaorani using a loudspeaker and a basket to pass down gifts.
After several months, the men decided to build a base a short distance from the Indian village, along the Curaray River. There they were approached one time by a small group of Huaorani and even gave an airplane ride to one curious Huaorani whom they called "George" (his real name was Naenkiwi). Encouraged by these friendly encounters, they began plans to visit the Huaorani, without knowing that Naenkiwi had lied to the others about the missionaries' intentions.
Their plans were preempted by the arrival of a larger group of about 10 Huaorani warriors, who killed Elliot and his four companions on January 8, 1956. Jim Elliot was the first of the five missionaries killed when he and Peter Fleming were greeting two of those attackers that showed themselves pretending they were interested in taking plane rides with them.
Elliot's body was found downstream, along with those of the other men, except that of Ed McCully which was found even farther downstream.
His journal entry for October 28, 1949, expresses his belief that work dedicated to Jesus was more important than his life (see Luke 9:24. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.") He wrote, "he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." He follows the journal entry with a citation from Luke 16:9 ("that when it shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations".) It is close to a saying of the English nonconformist preacher Philip Henry (1631–1696) who said "He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep, when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose".
Life magazine published a ten-page article on Elliot's and his friends' mission and deaths. After his death, his wife Elisabeth Elliot and other missionaries began working among the Huaorani, where they continued evangelistic work. She later published two books, Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot and Through Gates of Splendor, which describe the life and death of her husband. In 1991, the Jim Elliot Christian School was created in Denver, Colorado. In 1997, the Jim Elliot Christian High School was founded in Lodi, California.
In 2002, a documentary based on the story was released, entitled Beyond the Gates of Splendor. In 2003, a musical based on the story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, entitled Love Above All, was staged at the Victoria Concert Hall in Singapore by Mount Carmel Bible-Presbyterian Church. This musical was staged a second time in 2007 at the NUS University Cultural Centre. In 2006, a theatrical movie was released, entitled End of the Spear, based on the story of the pilot, Nate Saint, and the return trip of Saint's son attempting to reach the natives of Ecuador.