In 1956 Roger Youderian, Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully and pilot Nate Saint launched Operation Auca. The Aucas were one of the most difficult tribes to reach; they didn't like outsiders and killed most of them on sight. Having made initial contact with the fierce Auca people, they felt that the time had come to make personal contact. With Nate at the controls, their plane landed on the sandy beach of an Ecuadorian river where they met some of the Aucas. Two days later, these five men were speared to death.
Time and Life magazines sent reporters and photographers to cover the story. An unbelieving world lashed out at what they thought was a needless loss of life. "What a shame!" many exclaimed.
In 1963, Operation Auca was the theme of one of my commentaries. I quoted Jim Elliot, who said, "He is no fool to give God what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose." A listener wrote a sharp letter of rebuke saying that the five who were killed were the real fools. "They got what they deserved - a spear in the belly!"
I responded to the man's words, trying to help him realize that the five men died for a cause - one he neither knew or understood. Several years passed, and I received another letter from the same person. He told how alcohol had cost him his wife, business and wealth. As he sat homeless on a street corner, a young woman walked up and said to him, "God loves you, mister, and so do I!" He cried. In the letter, he wrote, "Now I know it was I who was the fool." Sitting on the gutter as a destitute bum, he came to understand why some are willing to die to share the love of Christ.
So whose fool are you?
A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless. PROVERBS 14:16