He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.
Jim was a missionary to a remote tribe in Ecuador. Every other westerner who had ventured into their part of the jungle, this tribe – the Aucas – had killed, but Jim, his wife and their friends were not deterred. They knew God loved these people and they were determined to communicate that love to them.
What’s the worst that could happen? They could die, but they agreed with St Paul that ‘to die is gain’.
And indeed, the nay-sayers were proved right when Jim and his 4 fellow missionaries were killed by the Aucas shortly after making contact with them.
Yet the story doesn’t end there.
Jim’s wife, Elisabeth, took her children and moved with several of the other widows to take their husbands’ places on the mission field. The Aucas had no concept of forgiveness; in their culture, wrong was always repaid with wrong, violence with violence – eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The very fact that these vulnerable, grieving people would move to live with the very tribe who killed their husbands and fathers spoke volumes to the Aucas.
It was a long, hard road, but eventually the love of God demonstrated through the lives of these American missionaries won over the hearts of the tribe and many of them came to know and love the Lord for themselves.
Jim gave up his life – something he knew was not his own anyway – and God took that gift and used it to win many more lives for Himself. A worthwhile exchange indeed.