Not everyone can handle the stress of being a Missionary. We have grown so accustomed to the easiest way of life that to be in unfamiliar surroundings, even for even one minute, would cause great anxiety. But some men and women have a hunger and deep passion for the lost in remote places of the world. Jim Elliot had this passion. His calling was for the lost tribes of the Ecuador jungles. God lays a path to bring the Gospel to those He loves. However, sometimes, things do not go as we plan, but God’s plan is bigger. We may not understand the why’s, but we can rest assured God knows what He is doing.
Jim Elliot: The Life of a Missionary
Even the non-Christian world knows the names Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, and Kirk Cameron. They have television programs, meet in large arenas, and reach millions for Christ. Their calling is to deliver a positive and encouraging message of a loving Savior to the masses.
Then there are names we don’t recognize; Brian Harrel, Chad Inman, and Dan Dwire. These unfamiliar names have similar lives to Jim Elliot’s. They have all answered the call to be missionaries to foreign countries.
- A calling – Both evangelists and missionaries received a specific call for the lost. They have a heart for a specific group of people. Much prayer takes place to reassure of the calling. For some, it’s a gut feeling, for others it is a slower process; they know they want to minister to the lost, but where and who is more difficult to narrow down. Either way, the desire is there, and the beckoning of God exists.
- The means – You have heard the sayings, “where there is a will, there is a way,” and, “where He guides, He provides.” For a missionary to function effectively, they need funding for their missionary purposes. This requires donations from mission boards, churches, and congregations. If God has not called us to go, then we should be supportive in sending missionaries to accomplish the Great Commission.
- The support – We can help fight the unseen battles missionaries face day to day. The doubt, the unfamiliarity, and even the culture of the people they are going to minister to. Prayer becomes one of the greatest tools. You may not be able to go or to support financially, but we all can pray.
Jim Elliot: The Sacrifices of a Missionary
We often do not consider the sacrifices missionaries make. We go from day to day running through our lives without a second thought to the things we have and use on a normal basis. When working in the mission field, many of these home comforts, are inaccessible.
- Comforts of home – When we flip the switch, the lights come on. When we turn the knob, clean and clear water comes out of the faucet. We have washing machines, showers, and air conditioning when it gets too hot. Food is another thing that is often overlooked. Missionaries often eat what the natives do; which is not steak, baked potato, and grilled vegetables.
- Friends and family – For many missionaries, it is a family endeavor. As with those mentioned above, the entire family lives on the mission field. When Jim Elliot was a missionary, it was common for work to be an individual calling. Jim went, his wife and child stayed in the states. Often when a missionary lands in the country they are called to, they leave friends and family behind. Not permanently, mind you, but for the duration of that trip, there is little to no contact. Christ did say one must not look back when they are set about answering His call.
- Comfort zone – Speaking to people you are familiar with is easy for most of us. But to reach out to a stranger, especially one who looks different or speaks a different language, can be daunting. A missionary’s calling is about stepping out of comfort zones. If Jim Elliot stayed at home with his wife and child because witnessing to the Acuas was uncomfortable, then that tribe would not have heard the Gospel.
Lessons from the Life of Jim Elliot
The heartbreaking story of Jim Elliot is that he was in a first contact situation with the Acuas. Their reaction was unfortunate but understandable. Misunderstanding and the feeling of being threatened often leads to sudden and swift action. And the Acuas reacted by taking the lives of Jim Elliot and his team.
Missionary work can include life-threatening situations. But should that deter us from spreading God’s saving grace? Did it stop Peter? Did it keep Paul from his change of heart? Did it keep any of the disciples from boldly proclaiming Jesus Christ? All of them paid the ultimate price for sharing the Gospel. So, Jim Elliot was in good company. Better than that, his sacrifice opened the door to the Acuas, eventually being led to a relationship with Christ. And it was Jim Elliot’s widow, Elisabeth, who was instrumental in finally reaching the lost Ecuadorian tribe.
Do you have a calling to the mission field? Do you have a passion for the lost around you? Or do you feel a nudging to a foreign country? If so, speak to the pastor of your church, or send us here at GOD TV an email. The mission field is vast. There are ways to participate that one would not think of. All in the effort of extending the challenge to answer the call of God.
If you can’t go, send. If you cannot send, pray. All links in the chain of ministry are important. Missionaries like Jim Elliot need your support to do the job God has sent them there to do.
To read more about Jim’s wife, Elisabeth, click here.