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Missionaries’ costly self-denial is challenge to seminary students

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–An emotional and unplanned time of invitation was the response of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary students to the challenge of Frank Drown, former missionary to the Shuar Indians of Ecuador and friend of the “Auca Five,” when he shared the story of his friendship with the five missionaries killed by Auca Indians on Jan. 8, 1956.
Speaking at a Feb. 9 chapel on the Kansas city campus, Drown challenged the students to become missionaries. “I want to challenge you today,” he said, “give your life — be it life or be it death.”
As a former missionary among the headhunters of Ecuador, Drown knew firsthand the job can be dangerous. “Some people have said that the Auca five were fools, but they spoke more through their death than they would have through 50 years of living.”
Reading from Matthew 16:24-25 the challenge to find one’s life by losing it for Christ, Drown told the inspiring story of his close friend, Nate Saint, who, along with four other young missionaries, was speared to death by the very Indians he wanted to reach for Christ.
Saint, a pilot and friend with whom Drown had worked among the Shuar Indians, felt a heavy burden to share the gospel with the Aucas. Saint, along with Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully and Roger Youderian, borrowed Drown’s radio for their first meeting with the dangerous Indian tribe. When their plane did not return and it was spotted on a sandy beach, everyone feared the worst. Drown was asked to go to the scene and retrieve the bodies of the missionaries.
Drown recalled the details of that January day. He buried the men in a single, large grave. “The clouds came in and it became very dark,” he said. “The soldiers who were supposed to protect us were out in the jungle. They came in because they were so scared. It was just like the day Jesus died when darkness came over the land.”
People learned later that the five men had guns and that Jim Elliot shot his into the air. The Indians asked, “Why didn’t they use the guns? They could have killed us all.” Drown said a missionary replied, “Because you weren’t ready for heaven, but they were.”
People all over the world have heard the story of the courageous missionaries who gave their all for the cause of Christ, Drown said. Their story was told in the book, “Through Gates of Splendor,” by Elisabeth Elliot, wife of one of the five victims.
“Did you know,” Drown asked, “that there are more Christians around the equator of the world than in North America. It is great to see savages turn into saints. It is a miracle of God, and God may want you to be a miracle somewhere in the world.
“It isn’t for us to say where we will go,” Drown continued. “God is our owner, and he will tell us where to go. If you want to bless the world, give them the gospel. That’s what missions is all about.”

Patterson is a newswriter at Midwestern Seminary.

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  • Ingrid O. Patterson