“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies A LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not CONFORMED to this world: but be ye TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind …” (Romans 12:1-2).
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).
In the Old Testament God sought from his people, dead sacrifices. Today, God is looking for LIVING SACRIFICES who will live, love, and serve like Jesus did during his earthly ministry. But it all starts with making the choice between being CONFORMED by a godless world, or being TRANSFORMED by God’s Word!
Sixty years ago, this month, five men (Jim Eliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Yourderian) literally gave their lives for the cause of Christ. All five men were attacked and speared by a group of Huaorani warriors. The news of their deaths was broadcast around the world, and Life magazine covered the event with a photo essay.
The deaths of the men galvanized the missionary effort in the United States, sparking an outpouring of funding for evangelization efforts around the world. Their work is still frequently remembered in evangelical publications, and in 2006 was the subject of the film production End of the Spear. Several years after the death of the men, the widow of Jim Elliot, Elisabeth, and the sister of Nate Saint, Rachel, returned to Ecuador as missionaries with the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now SIL International) to live among the Huaorani. This eventually led to the conversion of many, including some of those involved in the killing. While largely eliminating tribal violence, their efforts exposed the tribe to increased influence from the outside.
While they were students together at Wheaton College, Ed McCully had written an impassioned letter to Jim Elliot describing how the Lord was compelling him to be a missionary. Ed was in law school and working as a hotel night clerk, but was unsettled in his heart about his decision to become an attorney. While he was walking and praying one morning, the Lord unmistakably sharpened the focus of his life to a single point. In the letter Ed wrote:
Jim, I have [only] one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all of my energy into it. Maybe he’ll send me some place where the name of Jesus Christ is unknown.
Five years later, Ed confirmed his heightened fervor for the desperately lost Waodanis in a simple statement scribbled in the margin of his journal:
I’m willing to give my life for a handful of Indians!
And a few days later, Ed McCully and his four friends did. Five good seeds fell into the ground and died on January 6, 1956—and the crop began to spring up. This single incident, widely reported in newspapers around the world, set into motion events that brought most of the hostile Waodani Tribe to faith in Christ. It also served as the impetus for thrusting tens of thousands of missionaries into virtually every country of the world in subsequent decades.
Those words, “I am willing to give my life for a handful of Indians” are inspiring to say the least. I suppose that beckons the question,
“Who or what are you and me willing to give our lives for?”