"He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him."—Psalm 126:6
In 1966, Jerome De Jong, a minister in the Reformed Church in America wrote an article in a magazine called The Missionary Monthly. The title of his article was "Sowing in Tears." Here is his article:
"Shell Mera calling and tuning for Palm Beach. Please give us a long call so that we can tune you in." Not a crackle broke the silence. Yes, it is 10 years ago that on January 8, 1956 blood was shed by five young men in the jungles of Ecuador; God's great demonstration that even in the 20th century, it costs time, money, effort, and even life too bring the gospel to the lost.
"Perhaps it will be good for us in this anniversary year of their deaths to remind ourselves that 'the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.' It is also profitable for us to ask, for the sake of our youth, what kind of men were these martyrs? Were they rejects, misfits, men who could not make a success of anything else so they were sent to the mission fields?
"Ed McCully was 6 feet 2 inches tall, 190 pounds, 28 years old. Ed was a star end on Wheaton's championship football team, track star, senior class president at Wheaton College, law student, oratory champion of the US.A. in 1949. He and his wife worked among the Quichua Indians.
"Nate Saint, 32 years old, was a methodical, inventive man. He was a cautious pilot. It was he who invented, among other things, the spiraling line technique used with the gift drops (to the Auca people) and the alternate fuel system which every Mission Aviation Fellowship plane now carries.
"Rodger Youdarian, 32 years old, during the second world was was a paratrooper and was decorated for action in the Battle of the Bulge. He and his wife were missionaries to the head-shrinking tribe of Jivaros.
"Pete Fleming, 27 years old, held a Master's degree in literature and expected to be a college professor. He was athletic. He and his wife lived among the Quichuas at Puyupungo.
"Jim Elliott, 28 years old, was also a graduate of Wheaton College and at the school was a champion wrestler and honor student. He and his wife worked among the Quichuas in Shandia.
"These five men burned with a desire to make the gospel known to the Aucas, a tribe that had never heard the gospel. True, it was a small tribe. It is equally true that the world could never understand why five lives should be sacrificed for these unlettered, uncivilized savages. And yet, as far as these men were concerned, these were precious lost souls, men who needed to be saved! For this, no cost was too great.
"On Tuesday morning, January 3, 1956, the five men enjoyed a peaceful breakfast in Arajuno, prayed together and then sang, "We rest on Thee, Our Shield and Defender. Thine is the battle. Thine shall be the praise. When passing through the gates of pearly splendor, Victors, we rest with Thee through endless days." (Inter-Varsity Hymnal, p. 9)
"Away they flew, in the little plane, to Palm Beach on the Curaray River deep in the jungle of Ecuador. Away—to death? No, no, a thousand times, No! They flew away to victory.
"It was here that on Friday, January 6, the men met their first Aucas, a young man and two women. What a time of rejoicing, what happiness that now at last the barrier was seemingly broken.
"But in the all-wise and inscrutable providence of God, a quarrel had broken out in the Auca settlement. There was a bitter debate about a new wife. As a result, anger was stirred and resentment. The best way to overcome this was to go out and murder the white men whom no one really trusted anyway.
"Sometime on Sunday, January 8, 1956 between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m., a murderous party of Aucas arrived at Palm Beach. All five missionaries were slain and their personal belongings were thrown into the river. There followed an investigative search and later a burial party led by the Rev. Frank Drown. How the tears flowed! How the Christian world, yes, even the secular world stopped, paused, and wept at the dreadful loss. And life went on. The world went back to its tasks. But, thank God, the church continued to pray. Would there be fruit in this apparently impossible situation? On Wednesday, November 13, 1957, three Auca women suddenly appeared and were brought into contact with the missionaries. One of these women, Dayuma was converted and baptized during the summer of 1958. As a result of this work of God's Holy Spirit, Betty Elliott and Rachel Saint were invited to go into the Auca village. There they labored and prayed and taught. Betty Elliott comments, "Now that I have met these men who have killed our husbands I find it very strange—strange to find myself between two very remote sides of a story. To us it meant everything in life and continues to mean that. To these simple, laughing, carefree forest people, killing five men was little more than routine and they have probably nearly forgotten about it now."
"In 1961, nine Aucas were baptized. By 1964, the Gospel of Mark was finished, having been translated into the Auca language.
"The last of this story has not yet been written. Eternity will reveal the fruit and the full joy from the tears. Contacts are being made by these people with the down-river Aucas, as yet untouched by the Gospel.
"However, there is an amazing sequel to the story. In June of 1965, Marjorie Saint took her son Steve and daughter Kathy to Palm Beach on the Curary among the Aucas. There a simple ceremony took place. Dayuma read for all to hear from the Gospel of Mark, recently translated into the Auca language. Four were then baptized. Dayuma's adopted brother, a down-river Auca girl and Kathy and Steve Saint. Kimu, one of the killers talked seriously to each of the four explaining that when one is baptized he is saying to all that he truly loves the Lord and wants to walk pleasing to him. Then he prayed, 'Father, when we came here years ago, we did a bad thing when we killed those foreigners, but today we have done what we know you wanted us to do, and some day all of us will meet in the air to go to be with you.'
"And so these same waters at Palm Beach which had caught the falling heroes ten years before became the scene of a baptismal service where former Auca killers became ministers and Kathy and Steve were buried with Christ in baptism.
"Thanks be to God, for He doeth great and marvelous things!"
God has commanded the church to go out into the world carrying the seed of His Word. All believers are involved in the mission of the church in one way or another. Some people must physically go, They may leave home with tears, like the mother's tears that flowed in Liverpool, England in 1853 when Hudson Taylor parted from his mother, leaving on a double-masted sailing ship to go to China as a missionary. Those tears were part of the recipe for the founding of the China Inland Mission. That is a story of tears all by itself.
We can only imagine the scene in heaven when
Out of the ivory palaces
Into a world of woe
Only his great, eternal love
Made our Savior go.
Jesus is the greatest Sower of all. He sowed in tears. Now He is reaping with joy.
Far and near the fields are teeming
With the waves of ripened grain;
Far and near their gold is gleaming
O'er the sunny slope and plain.
Lord of harvest, send forth reapers
Hear us, Lord, to Thee we cry;
Send them now the sheaves to gather
Ere the harvest time pass by.
Thou whom Christ the Lord is sending
Gather now the sheaves of gold;
Heavenward then at evening wending
Thou shalt come with joy untold.