I watched ‘End of the Spear‘ recently –  a film that recounts the true story of Operation Auca, in which five American Christian missionaries felt a deep ‘call’ from God to connect with the Waodani people of the Ecuador jungles.  Based upon actual events from the 1950’s – from their initial contact with the Waodani, their deaths shortly after contact by the Waodani and the incredible journey that began for the surviving families – one of forgiveness, redemption, love and the opportunity to share the gospel with this lost ‘stone age’ tribe.  The movie tells the story from the perspective of Steve Saint (the son of Nate Saint, one of the murdered missionaries), and Mincayani, one of the tribesmen who killed the missionaries. The two eventually form a bond that continues to this day. To say the least, this movie was intense!  Realizing that it is based on a true story made it even more amazing!  Many of the South American jungle tribes were notorious for their brutality, fierceness and seemingly low value for human life.  The Waodani were no different.  In fact, what made this particular tribe stand out from the rest was that they nearly caused themselves to become extinct from the mass killing that was happening within their own tribes – self inflicted genocide!  But, that didn’t stop this group of 5 missionaries who felt a deep ‘call’ from God to connect with the Waodani people.  They knew that regardless of their reputation, history and culture, God loved them and they were worth the risk.

It is almost unfathomable to imagine that there are still people groups on our planet that are ‘uncivilized’ – many still living like they were from 5,ooo years ago! Our western culture with its fast air flight and ever so rapidly advancing technology has made our planet earth seems increasingly smaller and smaller.  What is even more boggling to my mind is the realization that with as much as these two cultures may differ… in fact even be at opposite ends of the spectrum, God made both of them.

A few years back, I took a college level co-orespondance course called “Communicating Christ Cross Culturally“.  One of my main project assignments was to pick a people group/culture that was very much different than my own (african tribe, eskimos, etc.).  Then, choose a ‘westernized’ story (children or adult) – like Cat in the Hat, Cinderella, Hansel & Gretel, etc. and re-write it in such a way that an african village or eskimo clan could understand… keeping in mind that they have no concept of what a car is, or a grocery store, or living in a house is like, our form of government or family structures.  Pretty much our way of living is completely foreign to them, yet I still needed to find a way to communicate the story in a way they could understand its intent and meaning.  It was definitely harder than I thought it would be.  I ended up having to rewrite it several times.  Every time I’d proof read it thinking I was done, I’d find something in there – a reference to a ‘western’ culture thing or concept.  I’d have to come up with something that was culturally relevant to compare it too. Not easy!

This exercise however, taught me a very valuable lesson – how easy it is for me (growing up and living in America all my life), to have the mindset that my ‘culture’ – my way of living – my way of thinking and believing is the only right way to live and everyone else who is ‘different’ is ‘wrong’. This not only applies to different ethnicities around the world, but applies also to our own ‘sub-culture’ groups here in the U.S.  How easy is it to become ‘proud’ and ‘haughty’ when we think that we are ‘it’.  I’ve even seen instances where people have thought that because they live in the United States, have a nice home, nice car, nice family, nice job – they must be God’s ‘favorite’ or on God’s ‘good side’.  Yes, I am blessed to live in America, but that doesn’t make me any better or in favor with God more than the ‘stone age’ tribes in Africa or Ecuador !  In fact, I’ve come to think at times, that living in America and being influenced by western cultured thinking, actually can be a detriment and hinderance to understanding and living out what is truly important in this life.  I heard it said once, “The most important things in life… aren’t things.”  But, God in His infinite wisdom created a ‘bridge’, a plan, a way for us to know Him personally that applies to all people, regardless of culture, history or ethnic background.  These five missionaries and their families understood this and they were willing to follow God’s  crazy call, putting themselves in harms way to built a culturally relevant ‘bridge’ between themselves and the Waodani people that God loved so much. And, unfortunately, as it sometimes does, it took an unthinkable tragedy, the deaths of all five men at the hands of the Waodani to open the door of opportunity for this ‘bridge’ to be built.  The remaining family could have packed their bags and went back to the States, but they refused to let the deaths of their husbands be in vain and they knew that although extremely painful, their deaths did not mean that God’s call was dead.  God still loved the Waodani people.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives.” John 12:24

For more information on the movie and a brief interview with Steve Saint, see : http://www.christianindex.org/1924.article.print

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Comments
  1. Great blog! I truly love how it’s easy on my eyes and the details are well written. I am wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which ought to do the trick! Have a nice day!

    • brian hetzer says:

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I do have a ‘subscribe to my blog’ section on my homepage- bottom left. BTW – how did you find the blog? God Bless you!

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