A woman whose father was one of five American Christian missionaries killed by Amazonian tribesmen in 1956 is the subject of today’s Witness programme on the BBC.
Valerie Shepard and her widowed mother Elisabeth Elliot spent two-and-a-half years living with the tribesmen shortly after her father, Jim, and four of his fellow missionaries were killed.
She says that as a little girl she doesn’t remember being afraid of them, though they had a reputation as a violent tribe that knew nothing of the outside world – the reason her father and his colleagues went to tell them about Christianity. Jim Elliot wrote before he left for Ecuador: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”, a saying which has inspired Christians to devote their lives to risky missionary work ever since.
At the end of the programme, Shepard concludes: “Of course it was a tragedy and of course I’ve often wished that I had known my dad – still do – but I really believe that God allowed this to happen so that more and more people could actually see what real commitment to Christ means. And I really don’t believe their lives were wasted.”
Elisabeth Elliott wrote two books about her experiences: Through Gates of Splendor and The Shadow of the Almighty.
The radio programme will re-air in the UK tomorrow (23 Jan) on BBC Radio 4 at 12.04 GMT.