But boys need heroes, so Sunday school teachers and youth ministers became creative, scouring the ranks of closely related denominations -- the Wesleyans, the Pentecostals, the Salvation Army. And they found Jim Elliot (1927-1956), a young missionary from the Plymouth Brethren who moved to Ecuador to try to win the Quechua for Christ.
Eventually he changed his mind: he would make first contact with the savage Auca Indians (actually called Huaorani), who lived in the Amazonian region of southern Ecuador, in order to win them for Christ.
After all, the Quechua were already Catholic -- not Christian, of course, but the Bible, or at least the Gospels, were available to them. They at least knew who Jesus was. The Auca were completely untouched -- they had never heard of Jesus at all.
"Operation Auca" began in September 1955, with the standard "first contact" tactic of exchanging gifts. On January 3rd, 1956, Jim and his companions established a base and had friendly encounters with some of the Auca men. Things seemed to be going smoothly. But on January 8th, 1956, ten Auca warriors approached and speared Jim, three other missionaries, and their pilot Nate Saint to death.
Martyred for the cause of Christ.
Nazarenes had very few martyrs -- the church only began in 1909. So Jim Elliot and the other missionaries were a big deal.
"Would you die for Christ, if He asked you to?" our youth minister asked.
In 1957, Jim's widow Elisabeth published an account of "Operation Auca," Through Gates of Splendour. It was adapted into a Spire Christian comic in 1974.
There are about 4,000 Huaorani today, mostly living in permanent settlements, their culture all but destroyed.
1. I rather liked the idea of five men all together, with no women around.
2. Who didn't wear shirts.
3. The Huaorani were mostly naked.
4. That friendship between Mincaye and Steve. Best friends with your father's murderer. How romantic is that?