Ultimate adversity -- martyrdom... tends to validate one's purpose. Eg., dying for attesting to the truths they'd written about Christ, the martyred apostles added credibility to their message. Conversely, Chuck Colson speaks of the inability of Watergate conspirators to hold their lie together for even 2 weeks when under fire. Compared to the martydom of saints... it made the compelling argument, he said, for the TRUTH of God's word -- and thus the basis for his conversion in a jail cell.
At age 5, Steve Saint lost his father -- martyred jungle-pilot Nate Saint. Steve and other family members of the 5 missionaries killed in that attack, later went in to live among AND LOVE that tribe. Last week, Steve gave his testimony recently in front of our govenor and those gathered at the Indiana Leadership Prayer Breakfast. Further, a compelling new (secular) documentary film called "Beyond the Gates of Splendor" -- about the transformation of that tribe -- is now starting to make the rounds to the various film festivals. Jan & I were fortunate enough to have gone to see it at the Heartland Film Festival here in Indy. It was indeed moving. Adversity (Martyrdom, in this case) and Diversity (extremely different cultures being reconciled in the pattern of Christ's love).... makes a powerful case for the Gospel.
Many books & articles have been written, and stories told... to the ends of the earth... about this famous group of modern-day martyrs. In one such article, Christianity Today succinctly captured the question which plagued the murdering 'Aucas', and the answer which transformed their lives & community into what they are now, called 'Hourani':
"They had to know the answer: why would the cowodi [white men] let themselves be killed rather than kill, as any normal Huaorani would have done? This question dogged Gikita until he heard the full story of why the men wanted to make contact and about another man, Jesus, who freely allowed his own death to benefit all people."
Steve went further, imbedding a vivid picture indelibly in our minds & hearts.... Although the missionaries had guns with them (for protection against wild animals), yet one of the Americans simply bear-hugged an Auca in an effort to try to stop further killing... and was himself killed from behind.
The warriors later asked, "Why did he wrap his arms around the smaller warrior, when he could have killed him?"
We could only hope to be so obvious with our love for people NOT like ourselves.
[Btw, any other day, I'd make a pitch for the value of "technology" when combined with reconciling Christ-like love -- but Steve's pictures say it all.]
Application: In my life, how can I apply these lessons of adversity & intentional diversity? Hmmm. As we start-up our "Urban Tech Center" here in Indy, may we be able to apply the principles of faith, expressing itself through sacrificial love, and by being intentional about 'crossing great divides' among people not like ourselves.