Jim Elliot was only 22 when on October 28, 1949 he wrote this in his Journal: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. Seven years later, on January 8, 1956, his body and those of four other missionaries were discovered on a stream, brutally pierced with spears and hacked by machetes.
Their attackers, the Auca Indian tribe of Ecuador, were not exposed to outsiders and were known to have been violent and murderous. Jim Elliot and the five other missionary couples knew of this. Nevertheless, the passion and desire they had for evangelism and spreading the Gospel to those who had not heard it inspired them to not put personal safety ahead of their calling.
Only 29 when he was killed, some people may have thought of Jim’s life as wasted. On the contrary, he is a true modern day martyr. Above all, significance does not come from a long life. A short life, like his, lived in the service of fellow human beings, is worth far more than a million long lives lived for self-gratification.
Jim Elliot’s widow Elizabeth (they were married on Jim’s 26th birthday, October 8, 1953) and daughter Valerie (born in 1953) along with Rachel continued to work with the Auca Indians.
Working for change in communities and society in general does unleash heart-wrenching trials and challenges. At the end of the day, what matters is the quality of the seed grown, and, for life to continue, the seed must die. .