Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Waorani and God's "Carvings"

Recently Katie and I saw the movie, End of the Spear. It's a very violent movie, but very worthwhile. It relates the story of how in 1956 five Christian men were speared in their effort to bring the gospel to the Waorani people (also known as the Aucas, a derogatory name for them), and how they came to hear and respond to the gospel from the wives of some of these men.
After that movie, I read Tim the children's missionary biography Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer, about Nate Saint, who was one of these men who were speared. I promised Tim that after the book was finished, we could watch a video that we had purchased at a Missions Fest conference about 6 years ago. It was of Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint, who has since gone to live with the Waorani people at their request, and who spoke at the conference.
Various times through the biography, Tim wanted to stop reading because it is a painful read even though written for children. It was the promise of watching this video that encouraged him to finish the book.
In the video, Steve Saint first read a letter from a woman who believed that missions work was wrong, that the only kindness was to let primitive tribes keep on living the "pure" life they have always lived. Steve had brought along an elderly Waorani man and translated for him his plea for the audience to send more people to other tribes who have not yet heard of God's "carvings," and whose first-hand account of the past violence of his tribe did well to refute the "purity" claimed in the woman's letter.
Steve also related how a group of nonbelievers from U of W went to visit the Waorani and hiked deep into the jungle with a number of them. One woman mentioned to Steve how she'd heard that there was somewhere nearby a very violent tribe who was prone to spearing people; where were they? He told her to ask any member of the tribe where his or her father was. She asked one, who responded that his father had been speared. Another student asked another member of the tribe. His father, too, had been speared. Another student chose another member of the tribe. She said her father, her mother...she named off about 8 members of her family who had all been speared, and pointed to the man among them who had killed them. One woman's entire family had been speared; she alone had been left alive on the condition that she marry the one who speared them; she pointed there to her husband, who was sitting next to Steve.
After all this discussion, one of the students asked with concern whether they were safe here in the jungle with all these people! When this question was translated, the tribespeople laughed. One of the Waorani women spoke passionately to the students for about two hours about their need to follow God's path. She asked if any there would like to follow His path, and one girl raised her hand. She said to her that if the students had visited them before the Waorani had learned to follow God's path, they would not have lived until morning; that since the girl would follow God's path, she knows that even though the girl would fly away in two days, she still will see her again at God's place.
You want adventure, you want meaning in life? Read missions biographies and you'll get it vicariously. Though I have not been a missionary, I have a dream that if I were, I would have adventure added to meaningful living all together--not vicariously, but firsthand. Maybe, someday...
Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

4 comments:

J.OTIS MERSTER said...

I know it's been said many times, but it can't be said enough, we are all missionaries-in our neighborhoods, workplaces, etc. I don't have people throwing wooden spears at me, and I live a very priveleged life. Just being faithful to the calling I've received can be a challenge as I depend on God daily with the unique health trials He's appointed me. I heard someone say recently that some give by going and others go by giving. I guess where you are in life and what you do is all dependant on what place the Spirit has given you in the Body.

Gods girl said...

I really like that movie. This is a great post.

Leila said...

I have yet to see either of these movies, but it's amazing to hear my Great Aunt tell me about that time and the people - Pete Flemming was one of my Great Uncle's closest friends (they were roommates @ the UW), and Olive was my Aunt's Maid of Honor at her wedding. They were a close-knit group - seeing all the original newspaper clippings she has kept is staggering. It makes me ask - would I have gone? And if that was my husband, would I have ministered to my husband's killers? What an awesome testimony.

NeverAlone said...

Thank you all for your comments!
JenM, it's true we should all minister just where we are--that's a great test to whether we are able to minister anywhere else. Health trials of course would seem an indicator that God intends for you to stay where you're planted, and it's good to be content with it. I'm limited by circumstances too, so far.
God'sGirl--thanks!
Leila--what a wonderful and amazing connection! Small world!