Saturday, January 06, 2007

Doing mission when death is gain: Introduction

I want to take some time to write about Operation Auca, about what doing mission when death is gain looks like. About what it really means to believe and live in Psalm 63:3. To hold the Kingdom, and the glory of the King more dearly than your own life. At the moment in my mind it looks like this. A brief introduction, an overview of what happened, a look at some of the protagonists and then a look at the aftermath. I'm sure that there will be repitition within the posts themselves, and that i will probably miss out some very important areas of the mission.


Operation Auca was an attempt by five American missionaries to take the Gospel to the Huaorani people of Ecudor. In the true spirit of the confidence found in Matthew 24:14, they were to go to another people group, another tongue, another tribe, and preach the Gospel secure in their calling, and in the victory of the risen Christ.

The Huaorani themselves numbered about 600 hundred, split into three mutually antagonistic groups, who lived in a river basin in eastern Ecuador. At the time of operation Auca they were recognised, infamously, as one of the most savage peoples in the world. They were known for fiercly defending their land against outsiders, any of whom they viewed as canibalistic attackers. Even before the missionaries got there, they were known for having killed rubber plant workers in the 1900s and shell oil workers in the 1940s. They were clearly a group of people in desperate need of the Gospel. In addition to this, the tribe was also known for violence against itself, with one family group regulaly attacking anothers homestead before fleeing, although this practice seemed to have died down slightly by 1955 and the arrival of the missionaries. Despite that they appear to be a people, and this appears to be a mission that was so dangerous, there is little need for hyperbole or exaggeration.

So what was it that made these five take on such a task? They were young, some of them newly married, some of them fathers...why did they go and do something that, on the face of it seems reckless and irresponsible. It seems that for Jim Elliot at least, the Urbana student missionary conferences that he attended left a serious mark, and we'll look more at the individual motivation when we look at the men themselves. But what did they see in the Bible that so many appear not to see today?

I've already alluded to two of my favourite verses in the Bible, Matthew 24:14 and Psalm 63:3. Aside from the precious, soul refeshing promises in Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 3:18, these are the verses i cling to. Isn't Matthew 24:14 fabulous? It seems to me the choice we are left with here is 'be doing evangelism, or be wasting your life'. There can be no cop out here. No 'waiting and seeing'. As sure as the end will come the Gospel will be proclaimed to all nations. All people groups. Every ethnicity. And when will the end come? When will we see the Son of God return in white hot glory? When the Gospel has been preached all over the world. Jesus has done the work for these people, so lets go and get them. May the Lamb recieve the glory due His name.
And Psalm 63:3 sums it up. The steadfast love of the Lord is better than life, so we will praise God. What do you lose if you lose your life? What do you gain if you lose your life?

I don't know whether these verses had any impact on Operation Auca at all. I would imagine that what i see in the call of the Great Commission is a fraction, a shadow of what these guys saw. But what i do know is they saw Christ, and His suffering, and His victory, and His worth. And they went.

1 comment:

Holiday At The Sea said...

I enjoyed this post. Good stuff.
I see that you are obviously a Piper fan...Woo Hoo!