Summary: Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.

Lent 2—March 8, 1998

John 20:31 "...and that believing ye may have life through (Jesus') name!"

Last year a group of 34 students from two state universities in Washington State took a study trip into the Amazon jungles of South America. They were led on the last part of their journey by Stephen E. Saint, who happens to be the son of Nate Saint, one of the five Auca martyrs, (Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCulley, Roger Youderian, and Nate Saint,) killed 40 years ago as they tried to make contact with the Aucas, properly now called 'Huaorani'. What has happened since that first day has been a miracle story. This last fascinating glimpse into the miracle was reported in just this week's Christianity Today (3/2/98).

This group of 34 had come to study what they thought would be Stone Age people. Steve Saint has a home among the Huaorani. Some of the very men that speared his father and the others have become like adopted grandfathers to his own children. He has been helping the Huaorani develop ways of raising money for self-sufficiency, and he met this group himself.

The 34 students were taken by jungle bus deep into the forests as far as roads would go, where they were met by three Huaorani men, who led them on a 14-hour hike through jungle trails, followed by a journey in large dugout canoes to a campsite along a jungle river, where they were joined by other members of the Huaorani tribe.

The students quickly learned to respect and enjoy the warmth of the men who guided them. They were welcomed at the camp site, and were so comfortable with their new friends that they asked Steve when they would meet the Stone Age savages they had travelled so far to meet. Steve told them that they had been traveling with them— and they were now surrounded by them. The students did not believe him. So Steve Saint suggested that they ask any of the older people where their fathers might be.

One student took the challenge and nodded to one woman. Steve translated her reply something like: "My father is already dead a long time ago; having been speared he died." Four other Huaorani told the same story. One woman that had really "charmed" the students with her kindness, a very warm and friendly mother of ten, pointed to an old man in the circle: "He hated my family and killed all of them!"

The students were stunned. They had second thoughts about their own safety.

Then Dawa, one of the quietest women spoke up. Pointing at the grandfatherly old man sitting next to Steve Saint she told the students: "He is Kimo. He hating my family speared my father and mother and brothers and sisters and took me for his wife." That really stunned the students. They were deep in the jungle. They had to depend on these people to get them out again. Steve Saint said he thought of what they must be thinking right about then. It occurred to him they didn't know the story we have heard so many times in Christian circles.

Steve put his arm around the old man Kimo's shoulders and told the students, "He killed my father, too." Then there was stunned silence.

At last someone found courage to ask: "What changed these people?"

Steve Saint repeated the question in the language of the Huaorani. The Stone Age people tried to tell the students how it used to be before they changed. They threw babies away when they were a trouble. They buried people alive so their spirits would not be able to return to torment them. Some had strangled their own children with their own hands. But then they tried to explain WHAT THEY BELIEVE about a God they knew as the Man-Maker the missionaries told them about, who had sent his Son to die for people who were full of fear and hate and revenge.

Then Dawa, the wife of Kimo spoke. I quote from Steve Saint's article: "Badly, badly we lived back then," Dawa said. "Now, walking God's trail which he has marked for us on paper (meaning the Bible,) we live well. All people will die, but if living you follow God's trail, then dying will lead you to heaven. But only one trail leads there. All other trails lead to where God will never be after death."

The students were silent. But then Dawa went on to give her own version of an altar call: "Have you heard me well? Which one of you wants to follow God's trail, living well?" The students were silent again— and then one hand was raised.

Steve said that Dawa understood what that raised hand meant, and clapped her hands and said, "Now I see you well. Leaving we will see each other again in God's place some day!" Then she looked at the other 33 and said "Dying I will never see you again if you don't follow God's trail. Think well on what I have spoken so that dying we can live happily together in heaven."

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