Speared to Death

by | Jun 1, 1999 | Persecution, Sacrifice

Consider also the fruit produced by the five martyrs in Ecuador in 1956. Steve Saint, the son of martyred pilot Nate Saint, learned the details of their martyrdom many years after the fact. Steve had frequently worked among the people who killed his father, since all of them had become believers through the widows and relatives of the martyred men. (Yes, the widows of the martyred men led their husbands’ murderers to Jesus.) He knew that his father and the other missionaries had guns, but they had made a covenant never to use those guns in self-defense against a human attack. What then actually happened on that fateful day in 1956?

It turns out that the killers-most of whom were teenagers and not experienced killers-were involved in a dispute with their own tribe, and they tried to shift the blame to the missionaries, taking out their anger on them. But the missionaries did not defend themselves or try to flee, a striking fact that the natives noticed, paving the way for their conversion later. After killing their victims, the Indians saw and heard strange sights and sounds. They saw people who looked just like the martyred foreigners (called cowodi in the Indian dialect) standing above the trees, singing songs that they later identified with choir music (which, of course, they had never heard before). Others saw the sky filled with lights, moving around and shining. It seems the angels-or heavenly witnesses-were singing! What a sacred moment to God.

Five young men were killed in the line of duty that day, leaving widows and children behind. These men were cut down­actually speared to death-by the most violent of the Huaorani Indians (called Auca, meaning “savage,” in their language). Was it worth it? Steve Saint, who was left as a boy without a father, looked back 40 years later and gave the answer:

God took five common young men of uncommon com­mitment and used them for his own glory. They never had the privilege they so enthusiastically pursued to tell the Huaorani of the God they loved and served. But for every Huaorani who today follows God’s trail in part because of their efforts, there are a thousand cowodi [foreigners] who follow God’s trail more resolutely because of their example. The success withheld from them in life God multiplied and continues to multiply as a memori­al to their obedience and his faithfulness.

This is the Jesus way to win the world, the principle of multiplication by martyrdom. It is the forgotten secret of Church growth, the unstoppable weapon of our revolution. It is the spark that will ignite a whole generation, just as one short sentence-“Yes, I believe!”-spoken by two teenage girls facing death helped spark a youth revival at the end of the twentieth century. This is how we overcome; this is how we change society; this is how we make disciples; this is how God’s kingdom grows. We die and we multiply!

Excerpt taken from Michael L. Brown’s book, entitled Revolution in the Church, published by Baker Books and available through ICN Ministries www.icnministries.org , p. 241-243.


Speared to Death