Archives For Heroes of the Faith Book Club

I’ve been re-reading Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot along with my junior high English class, and TGOS is also the May selection for Julia’s Heroes of the Faith Book Club at Dark Glass Ponderings.

This book tells the story of five young missionaries who accomplished what every Christian aspires to—they lived and died for Christ. However, their brief time on earth and the way God took them home have left an indelible impact on generations of Christians.

In 1956 Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian lost their lives in an attempt to bring the Gospel to the Woadani or Auca tribe of Ecuador. There is so much that could be said about these brave men and their wives. I’ve already posted about them several times at the links listed below. So today I’d like to focus on one lesson the book brought home to me.

Words Jim Elliot wrote while in college

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story of these five men reminds me how perfectly God matches a life path to each personality He creates. When I was young, it seemed like Christians who dedicated their lives to Christ were immediately forced to go to some faraway outpost or jungle setting where they had to give up civilized life in order to be holy. I feared that a life of service might mean the same for me and balked at the idea. Nate, Jim, Ed, Pete, Roger, and their wives are a good reminder of what I eventually learned about God’s leading in our lives. God’s purpose is uniquely suited to each of us. He wants us to be happy and fulfilled doing what He created us to do. Since God is the one who made us, who knows better what will please us?

He tells us this again and again. We just need to trust His Word . . .

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11~

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will [shape] the desires of your heart.” ~Psalm 37:4~

“For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” ~Psalm 139:13&16~

The missionaries in this book chose the jungle and enjoyed everyday life among the simple people there. They were pioneers at heart and loved rough, outdoor adventures. Even the actual film footage of their last days—when the five men were camping out on the beach—features them joking, laughing, singing.

And the photos and film of the men’s first meeting with the Auca people show how exuberant they were to have finally made contact.

Reenactment from End of the Spear

The guys did not consider their lives to be filled with sacrifice. In the jungles of Ecuador, they felt they were fulfilling their purpose. 

Quote from Journals of Jim Elliot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through Gates of Splendor not only relates the details of the men’s jungle adventures, it also shares excerpts from the letters and diaries that reveal their hearts. As I read their hopes, dreams, doubts, and fears in their own words, I realized they were exactly where they wanted to be doing exactly what they’d dreamed of doing.

Each of the guys had been raised in homes that taught their children how to have personal relationships with Jesus Christ. Their parents read and discussed Scripture with them, brought them to church, showed by example how to live for Christ each day, and encouraged their children to discover God’s purpose for themselves. Most of the men and women involved in this story had felt God calling them to be missionaries since they were very young. So the Lord had been getting them ready to go to the Aucas for their entire lives.

What’s your purpose? How has God worked in your life to bring you this far? Have you ever felt God making an adjustment in your life when you’ve gotten off track? Feel free to share!

For more readings about the folks from this story, follow the links below:

In the past, I’ve written about Elisabeth Elliot and her husband Jim–how they met, fell  in love, and ended up on the mission field in Ecuador. In 1956, Jim and four other missionaries gave their lives to reach the Auca, now called Waodani, people for Christ. The book Through Gates of Splendor tells the story of these brave men.

The book also inspired a documentary, Beyond the Gates of Splendor, which shows interviews with the Waodani and the widows and children of the martyred missionaries. One of those left behind, Nate Saint’s son Steve, then wrote a book called End of the Spear, in which he shared the Waodani side of the story—what motivated them to kill and what brought them to repentance and salvation after the deaths of the five young men. His book was made into a major motion picture of the same name.

The legacy of this story now continues in a documentary called The Grandfathers, featuring Steve’s son, Jesse Saint. In this documentary, Jesse tells the story of his time living with the Waodani tribe and how he built relationships with the men who speared his grandfather—men who are now believers desiring to follow the one true God. They played important roles in his life as he searched for his own purpose in Christ.

I’ve admired the families involved in this story for years and, during my younger days, wondered what it would be like to be one of them. I assumed my spiritual journey would have been easier had I shared their powerful legacy. Jesse’s story reminded me that God acts with perfect wisdom when He puts us into families and chooses the circumstances of our life journeys. As Psalm 139 says, “All the days ordained for [us] were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” It didn’t matter that Jesse Saint’s grandfather and father were famous men of God, he still had to find his own place in the world—apart from the burden of expectations their legacies created.

Here’s an excerpt from the promotional blurb about the movie: The Grandfathers is a motion-graphics documentary by writer/director Jim Hanon and producer Mart Green. It tells the journey of Jesse Saint. In the heart of the jungle, Jesse must confront his family’s past as he determines his own future. This documentary is a moving tribute to a young man’s quest for significance and purpose – and his remarkable impact on the three tribal elders who, unwittingly, are on a quest of their own.

You can find out more about the film at this website. It’s also available for purchase at Amazon.com.

This is a great film to use with a youth group or home school group. I’m reading the book Through Gates of Splendor with my junior high English class right now and plan to use this movie, along with End of the Spear, at the end of our unit.

This post also gives me a great opportunity to remind you about the Heroes of the Faith Book Club started by Julia at Dark Glass Ponderings. We’ll be discussing Through Gates of Splendor at Julia’s blog and here at Doorkeeper on April 30th. (I’ll be on a New York City day trip with my class, so my post will go up on the 29th.) You’ll find further details about the book club in this post.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a happy day!

Have you ever felt like you weren’t doing it right? Life, I mean. And maybe you’d like to shadow someone older and wiser to see what they’ve discovered that you’re missing? If so, have I got a group for you! It’s the Heroes of the Faith Book Club.

This group was started by faithful homeschooling book reviewer/writer Julia, who blogs at Dark Glass Ponderings. (Here’s the link to her original post about Heroes of the Faith.)

Now, I know some of you might be thinking, “She just finished featuring one book club I didn’t have time for, and here she is introducing another.”

But this one’s different! Let me give you a quick rundown . . .

  • You’ll have an extended period of time to read each book. (60 days for this first one.)
  • Each book will feature a true-life inspirational story.
  • You’ll have the chance to discuss the book with others who have read it. (We’ll begin our first book discussion on April 30th.)
  • Sometimes there will be prizes 🙂 (I’m giving away prizes that go with this first book.)
  • You’re more than likely to be greatly changed by the time you finish the book.

Julia’s book choice for our first discussion is Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot. Here’s how the Book Angles review site describes the book:

Through Gates of Splendor can safely be called a Christian classic. It is a powerful, close-up look at the lives of ordinary people who loved God first and foremost, desired His will, and trusted Him. There is much to inspire the reader to abandon fear and live every moment fully for God’s purposes. The accounts, often in the missionaries’ own words, may well inspire young readers to reach the unreached and/or to obey God with the same discipline and wholeheartedness as the book’s main characters.”

Chuck Swindoll also endorsed the book, “I would say, without hesitation, God used this book to change my life.”

Through Gates of Splendor has been in print long enough that there are many places for you to obtain a copy. First, you may want to check with your public library.

Another great place to grab the book is on Half.com. I found many copies of the book there for 75 cents. Once you add shipping and handling, that will bring your price up to almost $4.00, but that’s still a great price for a Christian classic. Follow this link to view copies of the 2005 edition at Half.com. This is the link to copies of the 1995 edition. Both editions are bargain priced.

The book is also available both new and used at Amazon.com and for $5.99 at Christianbook.com.

Here’s how to participate: 1. Buy or borrow a copy of the book. 2. Read it over the next two months. 3. Come back to Doorkeeper and Dark Glass Ponderings for a book discussion on April 30th. Simple, right?

According to the Bible, Paul encouraged the Christians he’d been mentoring to take a good long look at his life and then pattern it. Philippians 4:19 records his words, Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you.” That’s the verse I’m claiming for this special book club. I want to take a good long look at the lives of some Heroes of the Faith, and then find a way to duplicate their devotion, passion, and impact in my own life!

I hope some of you will consider joining us in the Heroes of the Faith Book Club. And if you do, also consider leaving a comment on Julia’s blog post as well–just to encourage her. Again, the link to her post is here.

To whet your appetite, here’s a short clip from the documentary version of Through Gates of Splendor. In this section of the video, the wives of the missionaries and the remaining Aucas (also called the Waodanis) share their first impressions of each other. Also, the ladies talk about the preparation for Operation Auca:

Don’t you love those old photos and videos? It’s a great story!

Follow this link to read my post about Elisabeth and Jim Elliot.