No Greater Love

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:40 AM

There is no greater love than this/There is no greater gift that can ever be given/To be willing to die so another might live/There is no greater love than this.” Steven Curtis Chapman wrote those words in reflection of the five missionaries who died in the early 1950's attempting to reach the Auca Indians.

I've been reading Through the Gates of Splendor, the story of the five written by the one missionary's wife, Elizabeth Elliot. It's really amazing the sincerity and excitement these men had at entering the jungles of South America and approaching a tribe who killed almost anyone that came near them. They gave up great opportunities, both worldly positions and other (safer) missions opportunities, to reach out to a group most people just tried to avoid.

In sacrificing their lives for the Gospel, these missionaries opened up the door for the eventual entry of the Gospel into the Auca society through Elizabeth Elliot. The Gospel transformed the Aucas dramatically lowering the homicide rate and causing the tribe to get an entirely new focus… on God.

Yet, to do this, these missionaries with their entire life ahead of them, gave their lives. In perhaps a reflection of the dangers he and his team were about to subject themselves to, Jim Elliot stated “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” What a powerful testimony of faith.

I sit here and I wonder, if God called me to travel to some remote part of the world, would I have the immediate willingness of these men? Would I view my own survival as unimportant if it meant the spread of the Word of God? I'd like to say I would, but I wonder — it is easy to say that typing from the comfort of my computer chair, what if I were in that small yellow biplane heading for the territory of a tribe I thought would probably kill me? Could I really do it?

I'm not sure what kind of conclusion is appropriate. These are just the thoughts that strike me tonight. I know I want to be like those five. It makes me somewhat uncomfortable to wonder whether I would be.

Tags: Faith
Article Path: Home: Faith: No Greater Love

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3 comments posted so far.

Unless a seed falls to the earth and dies. . .

The impact of those men (and their wives, who survived, carried on the mission work, and have been an example of trusting in the Lord in spite of great loss) has been so far-reaching. Their sacrifice did pave the way for the Gospel to be proclaimed and recieved among that one tribe in South America. And God has also used it to motivate so many more Believers to the mission field. I cannot count how many women I know who have been inspired to trust in the Lord with daily concerns as well as through great trials by Mrs. Elisabeth Elliot.

Interestingly, Both Jim and Elisabeth came from families that were grounded in the Faith. In a biography I read, I was amazed by how clearly I could see God’s covenant being lived out in the generations of those families.

Posted by Alexandra - Aug 31, 2003 | 10:50 AM- Location:


Stephen McCracker of CS-FSLUG is a full-time missionary in Equador with HCJB Radio, a ministry that resulted from this very story. I have another friend that spen the summer there and was very impressed.

I understand your plight. I’ve come to the conclusion that God gives us the strength we need when we need it. I think from the story of the lives of these men that God prepared them specially for this and that inspires me to wonder what is God preparing me for. I don’t think it’s that, but some missions activity I’m sure of.

SCC’s latest tour and CD acually had a Auca Indian that had been alive when these men were killed join him. The same friend that went to Equador went to the concert and said it was an excellently missions focused concert or perhaps more accurately praise and worship session.

Posted by Josiah Ritchie - Sep 01, 2003 | 9:40 AM- Location:

RE: No Greater Love

Alexandra, you are definitely right. It certainly has had wide reaching effects.

Josiah, you have a good point about God giving us strength when we need it. I also know the feeling of not being sure where God is leading… I’m kind of in the same position. I feel torn in a few directions, so I’m just kind of waiting and praying about it for now.

It’s interesting you mention SCC’s latest concert series. I got to see that when he was in town, and that sparked my interest (which lead to me reading Through the Gates of Splendor). It was amazing to see Steve Saint, son of the missionary Nate Saint, and his father’s killer standing together testifying to God’s transforming power.The most powerful moment was when SCC and the Auca, Mincaye, sang a duet together — Chapman in English, Mincaye in his tongue. I posted on the event last year: .

I also had the opportunity to meet Steve Saint last December. Saint’s daughter, who died a few years ago, was a friend of a member of my church. When that member got married, Saint flew in for the wedding and agreed to do a sermonette and presentation at church the next day. It was really interesting and informative.

Posted by Timothy R. Butler - Sep 01, 2003 | 7:29 PM- Location: MO

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