Through gates of splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
I was told from the beginning of this book that five men, missionaries to natives in the jungle of Ecuador, were killed when they entered the area of a violent, little-known tribe.
Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Nate Saint.
I was ready for the book to be somber and depressing.
However, the story, written by the wife of one of the men killed, was lovely.
The author gave background of each of the men and, by their own writings and the witness of those close to them, told how they’d decided to come to Ecuador. She gave detailed description of their lives and work with the natives of the country, and of how they came to the desire to reach the Huaoranipeople, then known as the Aucas.
The story was delightful, often humorous,, a lively telling of these young men and their wives as they prepared for and took on this work.
Much of the telling came from letters and journals from the five men, right up to the last days when they landed in the jungle near the Auca people. They expressed excitement, humor, frustration, joy, exhaustion, and a strong commitment and desire to share the grace of Jesus with these people who had never heard of him.
The part of the book that told of their death and right after was surely sorrowful. But, through God’s care, the wives held on to their faith and trust in God. Not only that, but many of the families remained to continue in the mission work in Ecuador.
From the beginning, the Auca people were still loved and still sought after, until Christianity found a beginning with them. This can only be through the grace of God and the willingness to obey of those who trusted him, even through their great stress and tragedy.
The author gave two epilogues. One from 1958 when she, her three-year-old daughter, and the sister of another of the men, went to live with the Aucas, at their request, for two years.
The second epilogue was from 1998. The author went back to visit these people decades after the event. With warmth she told of meeting with some of the people she’d worked with, including two of the men who killed her husband, who were now Christians.
I found the second epilogue to be filled with wisdom, about the event from forty years earlier, about the wonder and mystery of God’s will. This final writing in the book touched me as deeply as the story that came before.
The author said that this event, which had touched the hearts, stirred the thinking, and changed the lives of many people, was still just one event in God’s time. She said she came to know that God is God. Though his ways are far beyond our understanding, Elisabeth Elliot said, she could only find rest in his will.
Job 41: 11: Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.