A few days ago, my friend Juan arrived back from Ecuador with the TMC summer missions team he was leading. We were only able to talk for a couple minutes yesterday, but I was blown away by this:
The caption said: "A Huaorani man that killed Jim Elliot and the missionaries… now prays for our safe return."
This is Palm Beach where Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian were murdered as they attempted to reach the Huaorani's with the gospel.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. These certainly are. And what they say is this:
It is not vain to give your life for the gospel. It is not a waste of time and energy and resources and blood and sweat and tears and prayer to offer up your life on the altar of the Great Commission.
I'm not talking about dying for Christ. I'm talking about living for Him. The latter can be much harder, because it means dying more than once. Living for Christ means dying all the time. Jesus said "Take up your cross daily" (Luke 9:23). Paul said "I die every day" (1 Corinthians 15:31). They weren't joking, they weren't exaggerating, and they weren't talking about an option. Jesus doesn't do options. Jesus does ultimatums.
The five men who gave their lives on Palm Beach fifty years ago understood that. But it wasn't just a belief that they held. It was a belief that held them. They loved God and they believed that He is glorious. They loved Christ and were convinced that He is the only Savior. They loved the gospel and knew that everyone needs it. And they loved the people who didn't have the gospel and they gave everything they had to get it to them. This is what Christians do. This is what Christians do because this is who we are.
Is it worth it? Fifty years later, I think we can say that it is. Praying for your lost friends and family and co-workers is worth it. Building real, long-standing relationships with unbelievers in order to share the gospel is worth it. Supporting missionaries and giving to outreach opportunities and being purposefully frugal and working hard at your business in order to give more is worth it. Being faithful in the details and the mundane and the seemingly insignificant is worth it. Being mocked and ridiculed at work or at the park or on the plane or in your family for the sake of Christ is worth it. Living and dying for the sake of the gospel, every second of every day, has always been worth it. Sunday, January 8, 1956 wasn't in vain. And neither is today.
Find your Huaorani's. Find your Palm Beach. Love the people who live there. Reach out to them. Pray for them. Be bold and be wise. And be foolish if you have to. Go die on that beach. Die every day until they see Christ in you, until they see the gospel in Christ, until they repent and believe and are saved. Someday they will. Someone will.
Look at the first picture again. Someone did.